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October 2, 2008

Will Microsoft SearchPerks Pique Searcher Interest?

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A few months ago Lisa predicted that the Live Search cashback program was destined to fail. Well, now Microsoft’s started its newest rewards program, Live Search SearchPerks.

It’s not the first attempt by a search engine to woo users and build trust by appealing to the purse strings. Over at Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan rounded up a great list of incentive-based search programs that Microsoft is running or has run, along with the now-defunct rewards programs from some of the less-utilized engines like iWon and Blingo. Anyone else see a pattern? Stupid question.

Okay, but seriously, let me take off my trendy skeptic hat for a moment. While my gut tells me that incentive-based programs are ruses to buy my allegiance, I actually just signed up for SearchPerks. If you haven’t yet read about how the program works, you basically download this little counter that lives on your IE6 toolbar, and the counter keeps track of how many searches you do with Live Search. Every search you do on Live Search gets you a ticket and you can earn up to 25 tickets per day. The deal ends April of next year and at that point you can cash out your tickets for prizes or hand them off to charity. Just for signing up you get 500 tickets. For perspective, 250 tickets get you 100 frequent flyer miles, while 525 tickets are good for five music downloads. I’ll have that racked up by the end of my first day.

It turns out that I’m not the only one willing to sell off a time-share to my soul. Or maybe just a one-month lease. Truly, there’s no long-term value to bribing customers if the service isn’t up to par. But since signing up for SearchPerks, I’ve been using Live Search exclusively and the results I’m receiving are relevant and, in many cases, include exactly what I was looking for. Keep that up and they may just get some converts.

That’s not to say it’s been easy. From a user perspective, the SearchPerks program has a few things going against it. First, there’s my habit of searching through my toolbar, and I’ve yet to change the default to Live Search. This is mostly because I’m not convinced that Live will be my long-term search solution. Seeing the little “G” in the corner of my browser reminds me that if my new relationship doesn’t work out, I’ll be taken back with open arms. Then there’s the fact that for searches to count toward tickets, the search has to be done through IE6. Here I am with five extra windows up than I’d usually have on my screen, since there’s no tabs in IE6 and I’m not about to stop using Firefox. It’s making me dizzy. And then, privacy advocates may not like that the SearchPerks software records the number of searches you do, the types of searches, the number of ads you click on and any toolbars installed.

Of course, if they expand the apparel prize category to include shoes and bags, it’ll be totally worth it.





One response to “Will Microsoft SearchPerks Pique Searcher Interest?”

  1. Nick Stamoulis writes:

    It will be interesting to see how this fares in the long term. It may do reasonably well due to the current economic state.



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