Can an $80M Ad Campaign Help Microsoft Search?

[qi:115] Microsoft (s MSFT) is going to spend $80 million on an advertising campaign to support its new search effort, rumored to be called Bing, as the company once again takes on deeply entrenched rivals Google (s GOOG) and Yahoo (s YHOO). AdAge magazine reports that the campaign could eventually hit $100 million. There was some talk that Microsoft would rename its search effort Kumo.

Microsoft has tried many tricks, including giving people cash-back rewards, to grab a bigger market share in the search business. The results don’t match the efforts. Microsoft’s search query share keeps declining. In order to jump-start its search business, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant attempted to buy Yahoo, but was rebuffed. It later bought a search startup, called Powerset, and is betting that it can build a whole different experience that will allow it to win market share.

Microsoft research shows that “42 percent of searches require refinement, and 25 percent of clicks are the back button,” AdAge reports. Well, Microsoft would clearly have to deliver results that are far superior to Google and would have to invent a user experience that would prompt people to switch from the search giant. As AdAge points out, “about 65 percent of people are satisfied or very satisfied with online search.”

Search is not quite broken, so there is very little intention on my part to find a solution. I am sure down the line things may change, but for now, Google does a good enough job. It is fast, and the fidelity of the results is still pretty good. In other words, I don’t have much of an incentive to switch. More importantly, Google has become part of the popular vernacular — much like Microsoft Office. We don’t search anymore — we Google stuff. I wonder if this $80 million to $100 million advertising campaign can really help Microsoft.

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