Bing Starts Drama With Google On Valentine’s Day

Bing Starts Drama With Google On Valentine’s Day

Microsoft’s Bing is stirring up some drama this Valentine’s Day. According to a Bing survey, about one in ten relationships end on Valentine’s Day, and 85 percent of people cite trustworthiness as the most important quality in a mate. And so, in what some might consider a rather cynical move, Microsoft is asking consumers to break up with Google on Valentine’s Day.

Microsoft cites the fact that Google Shopping now includes only paid results as evidence that the search engine is no longer trustworthy. As we’ve mentioned before, this move does seem to go against the spirit of “don’t be evil,” and Google’s traditional opposition to paid inclusion. While the traditional search results are not paid, the Shopping results are.

But Microsoft is on anything but firm ground as it makes the accusation. Bing recommends that merchants submit themselves to their partner,, and promises “higher visibility” as a result. Bing has clarified that this doesn’t mean payment is a ranking factor, it just means that they might get special placement and highlighting, but that they will be labeled as ads.

But even this is misleading, because it’s unclear whether merchants can get listed in Bing’s shopping center without payment. During the holiday season, Bing suspended the ability of merchants to get included in the shopping results without paying. Meanwhile, even as Bing insinuates that Google Shopping consists of nothing but ads, in reality payment is just one of many factors, not much different from the situation at Bing.

While Bing Shopping may be slightly “less paid” than Google Shopping, Google appropriately labels its network as being sponsored, while Bing makes the somewhat misleading claim that payment doesn’t influence its shopping results at all.

Microsoft’s moves may seem desperate and hypocritical, but it’s certainly clear why they’re fighting so hard to cut into Google’s Shopping during Valentine’s Day. According to a survey by NRF and BIGinsight, 26 percent of people expect to buy gifts for their loved ones online, an increase from 19 percent last year.

Meanwhile, local businesses can still cash-in on the move toward online shopping. Forty-one percent of smartphone owners will be using them to shop for gifts, and 47 percent of tablet owners will be doing the same. Most research suggests that searches from mobile devices more frequently lead to local purchases, since these shoppers are more likely to be on the move while they do their research. With convenient maps and driving directions, mobile is a promising channel for the modern local business.

Unfortunately, three quarters of florists aren’t optimized for mobile, and 82 percent of their websites don’t load within 3 seconds, a crucial time span that causes many users to bounce off their site.

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