I’ve had a wonderful 4-days week-end in the south of France doing hot air ballooning, visiting old small villages and enjoying local food (so French, isn’t it? :) )… There has been a big CSE-related news during those few days: the announcement that the Bing Cashback program will end on July, 30 2010 through a post on the official Bing blog:
One of the principles we have here at Bing is to constantly experiment and learn. […] As part of this “test-and-learn” mentality, we will be retiring the Bing cashback feature […]
Why are we doing this? When we originally began to offer the cashback feature, it was designed to help advertisers reach you with compelling offers, and to provide a new type of shopping experience that would change user behavior and attract a bunch of new users to Bing.
In lots of ways, this was a great feature – we had over a thousand merchant partners delivering great offers to customers and seeing great ROI on their campaigns, and we were taking some of the advertising revenue and giving it back to customers. But after a couple of years of trying, we did not see the broad adoption that we had hoped for.
So we are taking all the learning from the effort and putting it into some new programs for you and our advertisers designed to provide amazing shopping experiences for consumers and great opportunities for advertisers.
Shopping remains one of the most important tasks people engage in while using search, and we remain committed to delivering great shopping experiences for you that help you make better shopping decisions, get great deals, and save time and money along the way. For merchants and advertisers, we have some ideas for making it easy to get a broader array of products and offers into Bing, and we’ll share some details on this later this summer.
Bing tells us they will be taking the Shopping experience to a non-CPC model, ala Google Product Search, which could make retailers even happier as it could mean free traffic. You could also see that a free shopping experience maybe better integrated at the search level and possibly as part of the Yahoo! integration.
From a product point of view, I’ve never been comfortable with the lack of comprehensiveness of the Bing Cashback vertical. What is true for most of the shopping engines on the market becomes weird for a web search that pretends to be comprehensive (at the same time, this cashback program surely provided more value to customers than classic CPC-based models). As such, the strategy from Google to offer free shopping vertical for merchants (with premium placements being tested) seems the way to go for Bing…
We may also wonder what implication this could have on Ciao!, the European shopping site from Microsoft that powers the Bing Shopping section in the European markets… A free shopping experience is indeed easier to deploy globally than a cashback program…