MSN Search To Share Advertising Revenue With Users?

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MSN Search To Share Advertising Revenue With Users?

Bill Gates was speaking crazy talk last week during a trip to India when he eluded that MSN Search may be sharing advertising revenue with its users (isn’t that the iWon business plan?). According to the San Franscisco Examiner, Gates hinted that MSN Search may be looking to share the wealth with its users; “When you use a search engine, if somebody is making lot of money from advertisers they ought to share it with you,’’ Gates said during a business interview with Indian news channel NDTV Profit.

In a swipe at Google Inc. (GOOG), the world’s most-used Internet search engine, Gates said Microsoft’s search products may eventually give users software programs or even cash after they click on an advertisement.

Come to think of it, this revenue sharing crazy talk is not such a bad idea, however, I would not agree with sharing based upon clicks on search advertising. Doing so would lead to disgruntled advertisers and a new, higher plain of click fraud beyond the 3rd tier and bottom feeder search community and onto the web’s 3rd most popular search service. Instead, a points system based upon searches which lead to measureable actions on websites or percentages of product purchases gifted back to the consumer by MSN.

Just imagine, MSN assigns each registered consumer an ID which builds up points one can use in MSN Shopping in the same way that frequent flyer miles are managed. Come to think of it, a partnership with Star Alliance or a domestic carrier would be a nice into to the MSN Search Points system as the MSN Search Points could be used to build discounts at partnered flights, gas pumps, hotels and supermarkets. In addition, MSN member search oriented purchases could also be tracked, with MSN issuing a percent back on MSN Search driven web purchases.

Question is, just how much is a new loyal search user worth to MSN? Greg Sterling of the Kelsey Group looked into this question last March : “According to data released by Nielsen//NetRatings, as reported in AdWeek, MSN’s new broad consumer marketing campaign has seemed to drive some usage growth. According to Nielsen, MSN’s search market share grew 1.4 percent from 12.8 percent to 14.2 percent in the previous month. The apparent cost of that growth has been MSN’s US$150 million, spent on high-profile TV broadcasts such as the Super Bowl, as well as other media.

Ok, let’s due the math. According to the US Census Population Clock there are currently 297,860,662 Americans. With about 140,000,000 active Internet users in the United States.

Microsoft spent $150,000,000 last January to boost MSN Search a 1.5% hike in the search market share, roughly 2,100,000 US users. For each new user that MSN Search gained from the advertising campaign, MSN Search paid roughly $72 per new search engine user. Give or take a few percentage points do to user drop off, it’s safe to say that MSN Search would pay $75 a month for a loyal search user.

So, if Microsoft would send you a check for $75 every month, would you use their search engine atleast once a day to find information?

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • Greg Sterling

    Loren: That original post:

    . . . was based on a $$ figure reported by AdWeek. I was subsequently contacted by MSN telling me that the $150 m number was wrong — “I wish I had that much to spend,” the MSN rep. told me.

    Still, they spent a lot.

  • Yes I would use their search engine once a day for $75. Not for useful work though because it does not work very well at this point.

  • This doesn’t make sense to me. Take it further and assume a higher take-up – and at even a far lower figure than $75 surely this could be the most expensive customer acquisition programme ever created – even for the 800 pound gorilla? Could even beat Hoover as the nuttiest open-ended promotion ever?

  • I would even go one further, I believe that a large portion of search engine marketing is focused on the B2B marketplace. So if I were a company, I might contract with MSN to put MSN search on our intranet, that way it would be the engine of choice for our entire company. Then block Google.

  • The idea Bill Gates had is already coming true..! Check out to view the business opportunity and for the web portal that generates revenue for users.