By now, most of America has probably seen the “Bing It On” Bing search engine commercials on TV. The commercials, which ask random citizens to conduct a blind taste test to see which search engine’s search results they liked more, Bing, or search engine juggernaut Google, have been running non-stop for weeks now.

From TV to CPU
This full-court press advertising effort coincided with the Microsoft-backed search engine’s launching of a website for users to try it out for themselves. According to Bing’s commercial campaign, users chose Bing nearly 2 to 1 in comparison testing. However, new info is coming forward more than a month into the effort.

Quick Returns
According to one of the website’s spokesperson, the goal of the “Bing It On Challenge” was to compare the almost reflexive habit of using Google that most users have, to research that says users preferred Bing’s search results within the test. Specifically that 2:1 ratio the commercials tout.
It’s a pretty gutsy concept. It started with Bing conceding that Google is the top-dog in the search engine world. Not that there was a debate to be had in this, but companies often show a sort-of cognitive dissonance when it comes to these matters. It was borderline refreshing to see Bing start with a concession. Bing isn’t trying to say they are number one, they know Google is. Their campaign’s goal is simply asking if Google should be.

So Give Me Some Numbers Already
Since unveiling the online search engine smack-down, the “Bing It On” site has had over 5 million visits. According to the company’s spokesperson, because of this strong response, Bing has been inspired to conduct another round of testing and research. This will be done to find out who truly is the king of the mountain if the brand names are taken out of the equation.
Through the use of an independent third-party research partner, the results from over 4,700 people were compiled. According to the representatives from Bing, of the users surveyed, 64% of users were surprised by the overall quality of Bing’s search results. Furthermore, over half of the users surveyed stated that their overall impression of Bing’s search engine has improved from seeing Bing’s search results compared to Google’s results. The representative then went on to state that they have seen users’ perceptions of the Bing website positively change. Stating that after taking the challenge, 33% of users said they would go to Bing more often for their search engine needs.

I Smell Some PR Magic Here…
So to recap, 33% of primary Google users said they would use Bing more. That sounds pretty good when you first thing about it. 33% is a lot.
Then the math kicks in.

What’s the ratio to that?…Oh yeah…67%. Yep, 67% of the users who use Google wouldn’t use Bing any more after taking the survey. Ouch.

That’s not good. There’s also the use of the wording on the question. Stating that users surveyed would go to Bing “more often.” The term is a bit difficult to quantify. There’s really no way of defining what “more often” means.

While the 33% figure seemed to be spun a bit, not all of Bing’s early return figures needed a shine. Bing reported that 17% of users who deemed Bing’s results to be better after the comparison survey, said that the results displayed flaws within Google’s results. That’s something at least.

So Is There Any Substance Behind The Hype?
While it is still not clear what percentage of users who partook in the survey really thought, Bing is still pushing their campaign forward with the 2:1 ratio. It seems that it is not a perfect science however. In fact, Bing spokespeople have stated that themselves. Coming clean a bit in a more candid statement, Bing representatives said that the site was intended to be more of a fun experiment for users, instead of a true test. They went on to state that it was more about showing how far the engine has come over the last couple years, and how close it now is to it’s powerhouse counterpart.

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too Huh?
Pretty much. Bing seems to want it both ways. It wants to be able to flaunt these figures and percentages without recourse. And if pressed, to be able to fall back on the idea that this is just a fun game for users. On top of that, the site inhibits a large amount of user experience tools that are essential for both engines. Who wants to see Thor fight the Hulk without their powers? Lame.

Sum It Up
This campaign seems like one part social experiment, one part public relations spin doctoring, and one part awesome idea. However at the end of the day, it got people talking about Bing, and let’s be honest, when was the last time we did that?

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