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InformationWeek Daily Newsletter InformationWeek Daily - Tuesday, May 27, 2008 Microsoft Live Search Cashback Deserves Some Credit With Live Search Cashba...
InformationWeek Daily Newsletter

Information Week
InformationWeek Daily - Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Editor's Note

Microsoft Live Search Cashback Deserves Some Credit

With Live Search Cashback, Microsoft has decided that it's willing to take some heavy losses to buy search market share. Ignoring the bribery, which inevitably will have to end, the search engine itself is actually pretty good.

The benefit of this program for the merchant is that it's a cost-per-action plan for customer acquisition, with the cash kickback coming from the merchant and going into the customer's account. Normally the search engine company would take a cut of that money -- or all of it -- but for now Microsoft is passing the entire amount back to the customer. It's better in many ways than the cost-per-click plan that's typical of Google AdWords, which makes the merchant pay but doesn't guarantee a sale. It's a lot harder to perpetrate "action fraud" than "click fraud," for example.

Live Search Cashback beats Google Product Search with the "Bottomline Price" feature. I can't tell you how many times I've searched for the best price on a product, only to go through most of the purchase process and find out there are additional processing fees or outrageously high shipping charges. So back I go to the search listings and try several other sites until one of them has a reasonable total price. Live Search eliminates those empty-basket shopping trips by showing the actual price after tax, shipping, and cash back allowance. Several other search engines like PriceGrabber have this feature as well; it's surprising that Google lags behind here.

A lot of you probably work for large companies and have company credit cards. That is one of the places where purchase gimmicks can generate sales, and one of the reasons why I don't like them. I'm a business owner, and these kinds of deals provide the wrong incentives. Employees can be tempted to steer company purchases toward these deals not because they're the best price, but because they get to keep the kickbacks -- rebates, gift certificates, airline miles, you name it.

In the end, what I really want is to quickly find a product at a good price, and my experiments with Live Search Cashback did that. I'd love to see Live Search integrate product and merchant reviews, which Google Products already has; a good price means nothing if the merchant can't deliver or the product doesn't work. Although a lot of people will no doubt come to Live Search for the cash back, Microsoft's built a search engine that's good enough to use whether they pay you or not.

Have you tried Live Search yet? If not, does the cashback offer appeal to you? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section.

Dave Methvin
[email protected]
www.informationweek.com

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