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Bing Warns Shoppers: Don't Get Scroogled This Holiday Season

Microsoft launches national campaign to alert Americans to Google's new pay-to-rank shopping search practices.

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Bing, Microsoft Corp.'s search engine, today is launching a national campaign to highlight Bing's commitment to honest search results and to help explain to consumers the risks of Google Shopping's newly announced "pay-to-rank" practice, in which the shopping search results customers see are not true search results such as they see elsewhere on Google; they are actually ads that are ranked, in part, by who pays the most. More information on these practices is available at http://www.scroogled.com.

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Instead of showing you the most relevant shopping search results for the latest coffee maker you're looking to buy mom, Google's new redesigned shopping vertical now decides what to show you — and how prominently to display what product offers they show — based partially on how much a merchant selling the product has paid Google. 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 necessarily better or cheaper. That's not right, it's not transparent, it's not what you expect from search, and it's not how we at Bing think search engines should help consumers get the best prices and selection when shopping. Consumers are urged to visit http://www.scroogled.com to learn more about how to avoid getting "Scroogled," a term used by Bing to describe Google's new practice that leaves people with fewer choices and potentially higher prices.

Today, Bing is also renewing its commitment to the old rules — honoring our side of the bargain with shoppers by delivering better, more objectively ranked search results.

We won't let who pays us for ads or other services affect what you see in your shopping search results. Search results are one thing; ads are another.

We won't switch to pay-to-rank to allow fees to influence the ranking of shopping search results. In short, we think that too many shoppers who use Google for their shopping are getting "Scroogled" when they should be getting fair, honest, open search results.

Google's New Practice

In recent weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Google quietly changed its shopping results from "Google Product Search," which represented fairly comprehensive results for products and merchants across the Web, to a pay-to-rank model called "Product Listing Advertising." Merchants must now pay Google to be listed in the shopping results, and how much they pay helps determine how they appear in the rankings, so now every "result" is really just an ad. This new policy means consumers are getting Scroogled.

And that's an issue for shoppers who visit the site they have used for years, conduct what they think is a "search," and get a set of rankings that look like the objective results Google delivers everywhere else. Meanwhile, the lawyers at Google Shopping are now calling results "listings." They even call out, nontransparently hidden behind a disclaimer or buried in a footer, "Payment is one of several factors used to rank these results." Consumers are potentially getting a raw deal because "relevance" is now determined partially by how much Google is getting paid, not by things that matter to shoppers.

Bing, on the other hand, affirms its commitment to honest search. "We don't let who pays us for ads or other services affect how your search results are ranked," said Mike Nichols, chief marketing officer, Bing. "Search, as a business, depends on consumer trust, and that requires keeping search results and ads separate. With Google Shopping the wall between search results and ads is gone — and so are several popular shopping sites. At Bing, we're committed to keeping ads where they belong and will continue to deliver the most relevant search results possible."

About the Don't Get Scroogled Campaign

With the Don't Get Scroogled campaign, Bing is talking to holiday shoppers about the importance of getting unbiased, comprehensive search results when they shop online — and how changes at Google Shopping could leave them with fewer choices and higher prices this season.

Beginning today and continuing throughout the holiday shopping season, the Bing-sponsored Don't Get Scroogled activities will appear online and offline, demonstrating why consumers should be concerned and helping them take action. We're also calling on Google to stop this "pay-to-rank" system for their shopping results and give shoppers what they expect — an honest search. Consumers can also visit http://www.scroogled.com to get information about Google's practices and updates on the situation.

About Bing

Bing is the search engine from Microsoft, designed for people who do. For people like you who are always doing more and don't have time to sit still. Now, only Bing brings together the best search and the best people from your social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, to help you spend less time searching and more time doing. So whether you're on your PC or on your phone, Bing is designed not just to connect you to the information you are looking for, but also to help you get things done right on Bing.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

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