bing

7 Reasons Microsoft should release a Cloud version of Office

In case you haven’t heard, Microsoft Office 2010 will be web based. Yeay!

Google Docs and Microsoft Office

However, they are still going to be charging money for this. Boo!

Microsoft could get a lot of people using Bing if they simply made a cloud version of Office. Sound like a bad fiscal decission? It’s not! Here’s why:

1) Not everyone needs everything that comes with the full version of office anyway. A simple version of Word and Excel would be enough to make most people happy. If they don’t like it, they can buy the full version.

2) PowerPoint is useless to the average user. However, you could retool it so people can create presentations out of their photos, videos, music, narration, and share it on Microsoft Video. If it’s easy to use, a lot more people would create, and you’d have a wealth of fresh, new, common use content on your other platform. (As well as giving people something else to share with your new Hotmail.)

3) You could add more to the sale version of Office, to make it more enticing. Certainly a Microsoft Money for Small Business on Office would help to get more people using both. If people need a heftier version of Office for college or a small business, then they’ll pay for it. Everyone else who just needs to write a quick letter can do it on their site.

4) If you can build dominance with a free version of Office, you can take an important shot at Google Docs, which more and more people are using who don’t want to pay for the full version of Office. The problem with Docs is it doesn’t have the tools and usability people are already used to with Office. The best way to compete with Google is to offer people what they already know.

5) Google Docs kills office on price, sharing and online storage of documents. Obviously, a competing could version would take care of the price advantage. Including sharing and online storage would be simple to add, and level the playing field against Google.

6) Why would Microsoft care to compete with Google Docs? Because it keeps some people using Google Search. If Office was widely available as a component of Bing, don’t you think there would be a LOT more people using that?

Microsoft would make their money back – in advertising. Google has no problem paying the bills each month because they have hoards of traffic. If Bing sacrificed the small percentage of income they get from households that just need a copy of word, and exchanged it for the ad revenue they’d get from all those people using their site, they’d make all that cash back. Seriously.

7) Finally, if Microsoft doesn’t, Google will own the market on free desktop publishing with Docs. It’s been growing slowly, but as more and more people balk at the idea of paying for Office when they can get the simple jobs done with Docs, more will. Office can jump into the fight any time – but the longer they wait, the more people will just get used to using Docs, and they’ll lose the advantage they have now of being the most familiar program.

That’s all of the reasons I can think of in one sitting – but I’m sure there’s more. I doubt Steve Ballmer will read this, but if you are Steve, seriously – you’ve got an Ace in the hole, and you need to play it.

Bing search traffic is much smaller than you’d think

If you’re still fretting over how to get some of that juicy Bing search traffic, stop.

Bing vs. Everyone

Above is a comparison of unique visitors (individuals visiting each site) for Google, Bing, Myspace and Facebook. When Bing launched, they had a massive jump in traffic – in large part because of all their television advertising.  Still, they’ve yet to get much more traffic than Myspace. Myspace, as you remember, is the social networking site everyone has decided is done and no longer worth worrying about.

Instead we are all concentrating on Facebook, and with good reason – their traffic is fast approaching Google’s. It’s pretty obvious that Facebook should be of greater concern to you than Bing. Google and Facebook have completely different kinds of traffic, granted. But if sheer numbers are important to you, Bing doesn’t have them.

Now look at the comparison between Bing and Microsoft’s other search platforms – the ones they wish you’d stop using now that “Bing” is here:

Bing vs MSN vs Live

While all three use Bing results, their numbers still don’t measure up to the collective traffic of Facebook or Google. More importantly, Bing itself is not popular. If Microsoft’s search engine were really impacting the search market, it would have overtaken these older properties of Microsoft’s. Bing had the same leap in visitors at launch, again because of all the television advertising and people’s love of something new.

I still maintain Bing will not rise anywhere near to being a Google competitor until they do something massively right, or Google does something massively wrong. When Yahoo! starts showing Bing search results at the end of the year, Microsoft’s paid search revenue will increase, but it remains to be seen if any of Yahoo!’s traffic comes over to Bing.com proper. Yahoo! will still have all of their other cool properties that people use – Yahoo Mail, Answers, Delicious, Flickr, Messenger – and Bing will still be… well, whatever it is now.

And don’t get me started on how little traffic there is for mobile!

Yahoo Bows out of Search – Bing Becomes the New Number 2

As you probably read last week, Yahoo! has given up on chasing Google in the search engine market. Microsoft’s Bing will now supply Yahoo’s search results, and Adcenter will replace Panama in PPC delivery.

Well, we could all sort of see that coming though, couldn’t we? Between bid offers for Y! and talk about the number of balls they’d dropped over the years, it was only a matter of time.

But so what? The real question for everyone else is, “how will this effect me going forward with my SEM campaigns?

1. You now have to know how to optimize for Bing. Last month I was still telling people, “don’t worry about Bing. It’s just another Microsoft search property that will be changed out for something else completely new in two years, without ever gaining any traction.” Microsoft Network, MSN, Windows Live… there was no reason to believe Bing would be any more important.

With this deal, however, their market share in search jumps from a paulty 13% and fading slowly to 33%. Google still has more eyeballs of course, but Microsoft’s reach has just jumped dramatically.

2. Get used to Adcenter. This is actually a minor Godsend, as Yahoo’s Panama was always something of a pain. I’ve been a fan of the simple yet utilitarian Adcenter for a while, and now, again, it’s worth doing. If Microsoft can manage to squeeze more convertability out of the traffic analytics they just inherited from Yahoo!, you may end up spending more of your PPC budget there.

So what happens if Micorsoft makes their PPC traffic profitable?

3. Expect Google to Retaliate. Not in a sinister way, but in a competitive way, Google will answer the challenge that Microsoft presents. They have the most eyeballs, but to continue to make their millions they need to continue to be thought of as the best place to spend a PPC budget.

As for natural search, I don’t think people will be bailing on Google for Bing anytime soon. Whether they do or do not, however, Google is always updating their product, so you need to stay on top of what they like. The best way to do that is read the findings of other SEO professionals. Webmaster World is a good source of information I recommend – either for learning how to optimize for Bing or Google.

4. Go to the next Search Conference you can. In most any other year, these things are a waste of time. Speakers in a slow news year will talk about a lot of different things that may be useful, but hardly ever necessary. This year, however, it will be necessary for you to learn about what people are doing about Bing. You can also make good contacts there with other marketers and exchange information over time as you both come home and implement your changes.

5. You won’t have to pay for Yahoo! Search products anymore. It goes without saying this, but I’m just happy to be able to. This used to be de rigueur advice for doing well on Yahoo!. For example, the cost for being included in the Yahoo! Directory is $299, and while it did help rank better, it always made me feel dirty. No one should ever charge to be in a directory – if a directory has any quality, they don’t need to. They make their money from all the great traffic they bring in. A cash-strapped Yahoo!, obviously, didn’t mind. Now that they aren’t providing results, you don’t need to worry about it anymore. The directory itself delivers very little quality traffic – few do anymore. Don’t waste your money on it.

While I think it’s sad that search’s Big 3 is no more, it’s really only bad for end users – people searching for something now have one less venue open to them. There again, if there was any room for competition in search, surely by now some new search property would have come out to challenge Google, or Yahoo! or MSN. Since it has only been these three for so long shows there hasn’t been much innovation in a long time. If some new search engine can move into the vacuum left by Yahoo! it will. That one hasn’t in all this time may be a clue that none can.

In the meantime, the good news coming from this is all for us marketers. We now have one less property to worry about optimizing for or spending PPC budget on, while still reaching roughly the same number of people.

My Decision on Bing.com

I was with everyone else when the announcement of Bing.com was made. “A conversation engine? What the hell is that!?!”

Well of course, kids, that’s marketing. Microsoft couldn’t beat Google at search, so they just changed “search” to “decision.” So now they own the “Decision Engine market” because Google never thought of that particular euphemism. It’s not unlike when Starbuck’s started serving “Frappuccinos.” Ice blended drinks had been around for years, but since no one thought to call them, “Frappuccinos,” Starbucks became the winners in the Frappuccino business.

But so what? Bing’s been out a little while now, and I’ve had a chance to tool around with it. And I am happy to announce, Microsoft has effectively become Ask.com. The layout and sidebar features offer the same content, and the results are of the same quality. If Ask is paying attention, they really might want to consider whether or not they’ve been in the decision engine market all these years.

Their media searches are much better than they have been, but this is more a sign that Microsoft has learned to catch up. It has videos from the major sites (Youtube, Vimeo, Viddler, Metacafe) as well as the media outlets and their own video. (Fox, NBC, USA Today.) The results are far less anemic than I remember MSN or “Live” results being. Welcome to the party, Bing.

Ditto for the image searches – a lot of content, not a lot of deciding. Is that unfair? Perhaps – but Microsoft made this label up, so they should have to answer for it. If I do an image search for, “pizza,” how exactly is this different than if I do an image search on Yahoo?

The web search results (I have to stop calling them “decision results” – it’s silly) are roughly the same quality as Google. The layout incorporates that “Universal Search” philosophy that has taken two years to become an overnight success. But those maps and images and accompanying information appear at the bottom of the page instead of the top. IMHO, It’s a rather lame way to differentiate themselves from their search brothers.

I also find it rather disappointing that Bing didn’t incorporate one of Google’s better features, offering the correct spelling of a word if you search using the wrong spelling. You see, I had no idea how to spell “Frappuccino” when I kept referencing them. While Bing didn’t clue me in to my error, Google did. It’s an easy feature that should have been included, especially since so many of us need copy editors in our daily lives.

Given the marketing budget behind Bing, here’s what I think will happen: They will continue to grab up more and more market share in search, just as they did with Live, just as Ask did two years ago. But eventually people will stay with Google, because they’ve been using it so long. They definitely have a better product then they had before, but the majority of users still don’t search things – they “Google” them. (Google’s own hand in redefining the market shows itself in this.)

So who will benefit the most from this? For now, my Dad – he got a Hotmail account sometime during the Hoover administration, and as a dedicated Luddite has no intention of switching to anything else. This means every search he does is on a Microsoft product. He is typical of his age group, so boomers will continue to be the base for MSN/Live/Bing, while the rest of us use Google, our Moms use Yahoo!, and Twitter Search will be the choice for the truly smart ass among us.

Microsoft’s one shot at getting a leg up will be to promote themselves as the search engine for pre-teens and teens. In ten years they will be in that target demo that Google has now, and those of us who are the current target… won’t. Microsoft definitely has the money to keep their advertising juggernaut running forever if need be. If they can manage no to re-brand themselves yet again, and do real work appealing to their future adult customers, then I think it will have a shot.