Microsoft just shot at Google cirticizing how the search company is using to show their prefered "paid" products for holiday shopping search. In short, Microsoft wants to alert users about what Google has done with their shopping site right in time for Christmas and explain the risks that come from Google's paid ads that look like search.
To this end, Microsoft has launched a new campaign called "Don't Get Scroogled" that aim to help customer for honest search this holiday season.
Microsoft explains, "Instead of showing you the most relevant shopping search results, Google Shopping now decides what to show you - and how prominently to display what product offers they show -- based partially on how much the merchant selling the product has paid them."
"Merchants can literally pay to improve their chances to display their product offers higher than others inside of Google's shopping "search," even if it's not better or cheaper for the consumer. The result of this new "pay-to-rank" system is that it's easy for consumers to mistake an ad for an honest search. That's not right, it's misleading," bing added.
Bing adds, "We are also calling on Google to stop this "pay-to-rank" system for their shopping results and give shoppers what they expect - an honest search."
Microsoft says, that Google now breaking the rules that made it a trusted brand. "They argue that the difference between answers and ads is shrinking. "After all," they recently said, "ads are just more answers to users' queries.""
"You see, Google recently pulled down its "product search service" and replaced it with a "paid listing ads" service. Search for "Canon EOS" in Google Shopping and you receive pages that look like the old days, with "results" down the middle and ads mixed in. But the "results" are also ads. Every product offer within the shopping search results on that page paid to be there, and where and how high they appear is at least in part dependent on how much they paid. Meanwhile, at least one of biggest online retailers refused to pay Google's new fee, so you won't see any of their product offers and great holiday deals in shopping results," bing wrote.
In short, "Consumers are potentially getting a raw deal because "relevance" is now influenced by how much Google is getting paid, not just by things that matter to shoppers."
Of course, "we accept enhanced listings and advertisements just like other search engines. But at Bing, we just feel Google should distinguish ads clearly from search results and not use payment as a factor in ranking shopping search results," bing adds.
"We won't let who pays us for ads or other services affect what you see in your search results. Search results are one thing; ads are another. We won't switch to pay-to-rank to allow some shopping search results to appear higher than others. We don't believe shoppers should risk paying more, simply because they started their search at Google," Bing said.
Watch this video to see the fine print where Google reveal the truth about their paid ads:
For more information, visit www.scroogled.com.
Update 11/30: Microsoft launched another video in its "Scroogled" by Google's paid advertisements campaign. Check out this video that asks the question, "are you getting Scroogled?"
Update 12/05: So, how did Google responded? According to Bing, Google did respond by praising their service and highlighted how great products look on Google Shopping without really explaining how the products get there in the first place. "They did not contradict or argue any of the facts and information we laid out. The silence is disappointing given how important this issue is to consumers and the online industry as a whole," Bing wrote.
Bing continues to argue against the "pay-to-rank" system that Google uses and recommends Bing instead, which operates on a higher set of principles. "Unlike Google Shopping, we will not take money to boost a merchant's rank in our shopping search results. In short, we don't do pay-to-rank. Where we do have ads, we label them clearly as ads," Bing mentions.
Update 12/06: Bing just released a new holiday themed animated video to help spread the word about what's going on re. its "Scroogled" campaign: