Monday, August 09, 2010

Microsoft Launches Bing Shopping, Offers Free Ads

Following the demise of Bing Cashback, Microsoft is offering online retailers free clicks from the Bing Shopping page, reports Internet Retailer, as it positions Bing to better compete with the dominant shopping engine from Google, which already offers eTailers free clicks from its shopping section.

"Bing also will offer online merchants that feed data to Bing Shopping paid listings that will provide them greater exposure, again following Google’s lead, search marketing experts say.

“'I believe Microsoft will follow Google’s lead and have a free offering for merchants as well as an ever-expanding array of ad units and offerings that will get higher visibility than the free listings,' says Kevin Lee, CEO of search marketing firm Didit. 'The free advertising products get the relationship started and the paid ad products are the ones that will get the visibility over time.' When consumers click on products listed in Google’s shopping page there is no click fee paid by the merchant that supplied the product feed. Bing Shopping now offers the same deal to advertisers.

“'Bing’s immediate goal is to bring on as many merchants as possible,' says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., which helps connect retailers to shopping engines and portals."

A spokeswoman for Microsoft confirmed to Internet Retailer that Bing Shopping is offering a free product feed service for merchants which allows product listings and images to appear in search results as free placements. The Bing Shopping site, at, also provides space for sponsored ads across the top and right side of web pages, similar to the general search results pages on, but on both sites all listings that show product images are free listings, she adds. The company has not commented on whether it plans to introduce paid versions of product image ads.

Internet Retailer goes on to say that "Microsoft’s new shopping engine is taking a page from rival Google Inc.’s shopping engine, Google Product Search, says George Michie, CEO of search engine marketing firm The Rimm-Kaufman Group.

“'Bing Shopping follows the model established by Google Base, which is smart,' he says. 'It gives Bing flexibility to do the kinds of things Google is doing with Product Extension ads and Product Listing ads.' Google’s Product Extension and Product Listing ads let advertisers show product images under cost-per-click and cost-per-action models, respectively. Under cost-per-action, advertisers pay Google a fee whenever a consumer clicks and completes a specified action, such as making a purchase or signing up for an online sweepstakes. Google Base, which has been renamed Google Merchant Center, is where advertisers load product information and images that appear in Google Product Search listings.

"With product data and images fed by retailers into Google Merchant Center, Google compiles data on how consumers are clicking on that content and uses that data to help determine relevancy in search results. Bing Shopping now will do the same with product information and images submitted by advertisers, who will have to properly submit their content to reap the maximum benefits through higher search rankings, experts say."

Bing will certainly use the same kind of search click data for its search algorithms. "Wingo says he expects Microsoft to expand the volume of product attributes it lets merchants feed to Bing," notes Internet Retailer, "a step that would enable it to better compete with Google Product Search and broaden the amount of product content that will appear in free as well as paid search results. 'Bing will look to monetize the traffic it can generate with all of the content that it will be able to collect from the shopping feeds,' he says."

See also Internet Retailer's article on Google’s quality score formula.

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