Bing is pulling no punches in its "Scroogled" campaign, accusing Google of in essence spoiling Christmas for consumers and retailers.
As Search Engine Watch describes, what’s at odds is the Google Shopping comparison engine, which favors the pay-for-play Product Listing Ads (PLAs) in results. PLAs are paid Google ads with images and detailed product information. PLAs require merchants to bid to be included.
As Mike Nichols, Corporate Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Bing accused on the Bing Ads blog, "Right in time for Christmas…Instead of showing you the most relevant shopping search results for the latest coffee maker you're looking to buy mom, Google Shopping now decides what to show you – and how prominently to display what product offers they show — based partially on how much the merchant selling the product has paid them."
Nichols puts it pretty accurately: “Merchants can literally pay to improve their chances to display their product offers higher than others inside of Google’s shopping ‘search,’ even if it's not better or cheaper for the consumer.” By extension, it becomes easy for consumers to mistake an ad for an honest search.
"That’s not right, it's misleading," Nichols describes. And it’s not objective, which search, ideally should be. (Is it really? Then why bother to manipulate it with search-engine optimization?) Still, Google’s own founders complained about search engine bias as being "particularly insidious… because it is not clear who 'deserves' to be there, and who is willing to pay money to be listed."
Also at odds: the very verb "To Google." No one "Bings." As Ad Age describes, searchers use Google reflexively and habitually; hence Bing’s "Bing It On" campaign earlier this year, which Bing’s Senior Director Lisa Gurry said was “designed to help them break that habit."
Bing today launched a TV commercial in which a woman warns a friend who just bought some cookware that he has been "Scroogled."
What Does Bing Promise Over Google?
Nichols described Bing’s renewed commitment "to the old rules [of] honoring our side of the bargain with shoppers by delivering better, more objectively ranked search results…Search results are one thing; ads are another." He describes the “Don’t Get Scroogled” campaign as a kind of service, aimed at helping consumers understand Google Shopping’s practice of "pay-to-rank."
Yeah—but what about the Bing Shopping tool? Doesn’t it favor results through its Shopping.com partnership? Search Engine Watch put the question to Bing, and its Senior Director Stefan Weitz denied it. “Merchants can pay fees for inclusion on our third party shopping sites,” thus appearing in Bing Shopping results, but “we do not rank merchants higher based on who pays us, nor do we let merchants pay to have their product offers placed higher in Bing Shopping’s search results.”