25 06 2010

We are creatures of habit. We eat in the same 8 or 10 restaurants, and probably order the same thing at each one. We have “our” brand of cola or beer. We get dressed the same way. We even shave the same way (I’m speaking for the guys here), because if you don’t, you might accidentally cut off your lip.

And we probably use the same search engine. Which, for Google, means about 70% of us.

So if you are Microsoft and still trying to figure out how to position their Bing engine against a Goliath, you have to be smart. It’s going to take more than just a pretty landing page to get people to switch. After all, Google has mastered the search experience, even adding music listening options (via for those times you are searching for a tune.

But Bing is hanging its hopes on the fact that many of our searches are entertainment-related. Not just music, but also TV and movies. While Google has done well to buy YouTube, it has not yet fully leveraged that strength. Furthermore, as we discussed yesterday, a lot of YouTube’s content is actually user-posted clips from copyrighted TV shows and movies.

Microsoft has dodged that bullet by forging relationships with dozens of companies to be able to provide over 20,000 complete TV episodes, courtesy of Hulu, CBS and Viacom. Oh yeah…Viacom…the company that just lost a law suit with Google. Well, at last the Viacom content on Bing has their blessings.

Stir in movies, music and video games, and you have a complete entertainment portal.

While Bing is not likely to unseat Google from atop search rankings any time soon, this is a clever effort to carve out a little corner of the market. Other search engines hadn’t a clue in years past, trying to fight the giant by facing him head on. Bing, on the other hand, has found a crack in Google’s armor, and is driving a small wedge. Yes, it is a small crack, but a crack nonetheless. And if you happen to like the entertainment search features, maybe you’ll stick around long enough to search for other things as well.

This is just plain good marketing. It seldom if ever makes sense to confront giant competitors on their own terms. No, you have to make your own terms, find your sustainable competitive advantage, and make the big guy wince.

And wince they will. I bet it won’t be long before Google responds. Which means that Bing had better be prepared for a tough fight, because Google is not known for just lying down.

For now, I find it all quite entertaining. Because there are companies competing for my eyeballs. And I don’t have to pay to look. That’s a habit this creature doesn’t mind at all.

Dr “Search Me” Gerlich



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