What do you do when you can’t get consumers to use your product for free? You pay them to! Microsoft has introduced another incentive for Live Search users, called SearchPerks. In this program, users would receive “tickets” everytime they search. The best way to think of this is like a credit card rewards program.
To participate, consumers must visit the program website by the end of this year, and download a small application that resides within Internet Explorer. All users get 500 tickets for installing the application, and users would be able to receive a ticket for each time they launch a search query, up to a limit of 25 per day.
Microsoft says consumers would have until April 15 of next year to accumulate as many tickets as they want. Prizes range from five music downloads (from Zune?), to clothing, airline miles, and even Xbox 360 equipment.
Make sure you’re using Internet Explorer: the SearchPerks website is not viewable in any other browser, nor is there plug-ins for other browsers. Microsoft is said to have considered supporting Firefox, although it thought there would not be enough interest.
There’s other limits too: A user must have Internet Explorer 6 or higher, meaning some users could be shut out. Altogether it looks like more than just an effort to increase its search share: it also looks like an effort to entice users back to the IE fold, and on top of that making sure they have upgraded.
It joins Cashback, another effort by Microsoft to increase its share, and a few other programs which give users the opportunity to get kickbacks for using Live Search. While they seem to sometimes provide a temporary bump, in the end Microsoft’s share continues to decrease.
August was no different: comScore indicates that Microsoft’s share fell .6 percent from July to 8.3 percent. This was after a temporary bump up in June, which is thought to be due to the Cashback program.
Is outlaying so much money just to gain search share really that worth it? I have to say no. It also can come across as desperate, too. Google hasn’t gotten to where it has by being so forward in asking users to search through it, it has let the search engine sell itself.
Microsoft seems to almost be showing a lack of confidence in its product by continually begging people to use it. That’s not good, and people know from experience that nine times out of ten when somebody’s paying you to use something, its probably not that good.
That’s not the message Microsoft wants to be sending.