Microsoft is trying yet another approach to get you to use Live Search. Previously they have tried everything under the sun, including giving miles for flights such as Midwest Airlines. Sadly the games there are nothing to write home about and it isn’t surprising that Microsoft went back to the drawing board.
This the aptly named SearchPerks is set up to give away tickets that you can the trade in for stuff (the perks). Sounds alright in concept, but it is poorly structured. Right off the get go you notice to win anything worthwhile takes forever (though they say during the promotion they will give away extra). Here is a simple breakdown from Search Engine Land:
- 105 tickets (4 days worth of searches) = 1 ringtone
- 250 tickets (10 days worth of searches) = 100 frequent flyer miles
- 5,500 tickets (7 months worth of searches) = xBox wireless controller
The length of time is determined because you can only get 25 tickets a day. Oh, and the promotion only runs until April sometime.
I wonder if they are taking the wrong approach to this altogether. I really liked Yahoo’s “Search For A Cure” program. The money is going to breast cancer research. I also noticed that on a survey at Banana Republic the reward for filling out the survey was not a percent off or dollar off perk. Rather it was some amount would get donated to a charity of your choice -from a list of 5 or so.
The fundamental question here for me is what are you really trying to do with these programs and who are you targeting? It seems like with a program that rewards the individual user that when the perks end they will just stop using it. When I consider the promotions that donate the money I think that the user gets to feel good about doing it.
Why is this such a big deal? Easy, because when the promotion ends and the user was getting the perks they now have no reason to continue to use the service. But if the perk goes to a charity, the user was not getting anything, but rather giving something, when using the service. When the perk ends they are no longer ‘giving’ anything but also there is nothing that will make the user feel like something is being taken away from them – as is the case in a perk that rewards the user.
Another important point, in my view, is that the perk for charity is more likely to be picked up on a larger news site because the company is giving to a good cause rather than greedy users (from a public perception standpoint). I think that promotions that give stuff away on the web generate a big surge of people trying to play the system and then just fall off. No loyalty. No long term PR to point to for the company. Compare this to a news story about how the company is “doing their part” to help the world. The company can use the promotion as a platform to point out that they helped while also promoting whatever service they were trying to get you to use.
So is this going to work this time? I don’t think so because there is no long term perk for the user and I don’t see any reason to switch other than to “watch out for number one” and the stop after the promotion ends. That is the thought from The Cake Scraps.
10/4 UPDATE: While I never said that Live Search was a failure – just that Microsoft is trying everything under the sun – there is evidence from Hitwise that shows that the Cashback promotion Microsoft is running may be increasing Live Search’s use. Extra information can be found here and here but I still stand by my post that these are short term gains and use will fall off if/when these promotions are discontinued.