Searching Beyond the Paid

Friday, April 06, 2007

More Examples of MSN Not Getting It

I know I've been picking on MSN lately, but I just can't help it. A couple things crossed my desk as I was catching up on some industry reading on this quiet Friday afternoon that I just can't let go...

From the New York Times via Search Engine Guide, "What do you do if you've spent tons of money over the last few years attempting to build a product that will compete with the recognized leaders of the industry only to find that no one wants to use it? If you're Microsoft, apparently you start writing checks...." Apparently, MSN has resorted to paying companies to install their search tool on their desktop computers. This made me laugh out loud. Paying people to use your product is even more lame than giving away your product for free, which I've said for years is not a sound marketing strategy. Talk about devaluing your product! My favorite quote from the SE Guide article: "What it ultimately boils down to is this... if you've got to pay someone to use your product or service, it's probably not a very good product or service. " Reminds me of Philipp Lenssen's comment in my earlier post about MSN.

And another goodie, which I've seen several places, including Search Engine Guide and Search Engine Roundtable, is MSN's announcement that they're shutting off advanced queries like link: and inurl:. Any SEM worth their salt knows what these are. They're basic research tools that are critical for doing research on your own site, as well as those of competitors. Well, MSN can't handle the load, so they just shut the features off. Stoney deGeyter's comments on SE Guide are the best: "It must really suck to be a third place search engine and have people actually using your site to gather research."

And finally, this gem from my own research on my adCenter ads. I'm trying to figure out why we're not getting any traffic on some popular search terms. I typed in "childrens magazines" (no quotes) to Live Search, just for grins. I got this:

(OK, I know it's kinda hard to read, but humor me.) What a joke. We're in 7th place. Look at the garbitrage sites in spots #1-#5. How are those ads even relevant to this query??? The "good" ads don't start till #6 - everything above that is just pure junk. How can MSN claim they have an ad ranking algo that takes CTR into account? Who on earth is clicking on those crappy ads??? How are these garbitrageurs getting away with this? Who even searches on MSN, anyway? By the way, this very same ad is a top performer on both Google and Yahoo, so it's tried and true. So I'm really not crazy. Is it just me, or is MSN falling further and further behind the curve here? With results like this, they'll never be able to catch the big guys.


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