Thursday, November 30, 2006

MSN Search and beating Google

Dare Obasanjo from Microsoft has a good post where he argues, "Competing with Google's search engine is no longer about search results quality, it is about brand and distribution."

Dare goes on to explain that Google has become the default search engine. To win, Microsoft needs to reacquire the channels and mindshare that would make them the default.

I agree pretty much with Dare on this one. Back in 2003, things may have been different, but, at this point, I think Microsoft needs to throw around their market power to win.

Microsoft should lock up channels with partnerships, cut out Google from the defaults, make exclusive advertising deals that suck revenue away from Google, and make Live (or MSN or whatever brand they finally pick) part of the general lexicon. It is not pretty. It is not nice. But it is what they must do to win.

See also my April 2006 post, "Kill Google, Vol. 3", where I said:
Microsoft should strangle Google's air supply, their revenue stream .... Microsoft should use its size to make deals .... Microsoft should use its market power to be the exclusive ad provider for large sites .... Microsoft should ... make being an advertising provider unprofitable for others.

If Microsoft wants to win, it should play to its strengths. It should not seek to change the game. It should seek to end the game.
See also my previous post, "Google dominates, MSN Search sinks".

Update: Four months later, Microsoft appears to be making new efforts to lock up channels with partnerships. John Battelle reports, "Microsoft is offering its large enterprise customers free service and product credits if those customers push Live search inside their enterprises."


John K said...

Well DUH!

Unfortunately for MSN and Yahoo, it is GOOGLE that is acting like the scrappy upstart.

It has WON all the key deals (AOL, MySpace, YouTube, Mozilla, Dell & more) this year, while MSN and Yahoo's split meant each of their inventory got smaller.

Despite the fact that this is obvious, (and I have blog entries from 2005 that spell it out) Balmer and Semel don't seem to realize it yet.

Furthermore - Dare's post overlooks something key: MSN has a MUCH INFERIOR search product. Their search engine is at least 2 years behind Google, and is subject to all sorts of manipulation.

Yahoo's product is also inferior, at least for advertisers, as Panama hasn't rolled out, and is at most achieves parity with AdWords 2006. It's easier to deal in volume with Google AdWords.

burtonator said...

This might be a strange war. It seems like one of the major strategies is going to be to destroy the other companies revenue instead of building your own revenue. Tear down instead of build up.

Google is already taking a shot at office which is 80% of MSs revenue.....

More competition is good for me though :)

Anonymous said...

In some ways my intended comment may be redundant, as john k has summed up my primary point nicely (right to the capitalization):

"MSN has a MUCH INFERIOR search product."

Microsoft can cut all the deals it wants, but it's not going to make any gains in organic search until it addresses its astonishing relevancy problem. While it's doing (relatively) well these days at spam control (at least better than Yahoo), there's as many important sites left off the SERPs for any given keywords as those that are included. And, of course, TONS of junk.

In order to market a product, you have to have a product worth marketing, and MSN organic search is far, far from that necessary goal. Yeah, Google is the mega-demon of search with it's multiple billions in clout -- but it's also the mega-success of organic search algorithms.