After taking Bing up on its "Bing It On Challenge," which asks Internet searchers to use Google and Bing in a side-by-side blind test, to our surprise we have discovered that Bing delivered just as often as Google. Here's the way the challenge works: Users input search terms and then pick the better side without knowing which engine generated those results, five separate times. In its own trials, Bing found people picked their product over the more popular Google, 2:1. And, they're hoping if you try out this tool you will realize how wonderful Bing is compared to Google. As of now, Google dominates. The latest Comscore data had Bing at its highest ever penetration, giving it a eensy 15.6 percent to Google's whopping 66.8 percent. Microsoft wants us to change our habits. Hence this advertising campaign. So, as a big Googler -- I admit to using Bing for flight searches -- I accepted Bing's challenge, thinking after multiple searches the old standby would pull out ahead. That's not quite what happened.
When taking the test I tried to pick five diverse, yet realistic search terms. And I settled on the following:
- "Rebecca Greenfield" (my name, which apparently 57 percent of us have done.)
- "iPad HD"
- "The Rain Parade" (a not very well known 80s band a friend told me to look into earlier that day)
- "Cord cutting statistics"
- "Devil Wears Prada blue shirt scene" (In hopes of finding this scene from The Devil Wears Prada)
Here are the results:
Picking the better side isn't a science, but there was a sort of logic to which side gave better results. For my name, the Google side had more recent accomplishments than Bing, which seemed like something I would rather have come up than stuff I did way back when. It also put social media stuff higher up. For the "iPad HD" search, Bing showed a slew of similar news articles about the Kindle Fire HD that just premiered, where as the alternative had those news articles, plus actual information about the Apple product. For "The Rain Parade", Google showed a bunch of videos in a row, Bing gave videos mixed with information, which felt more useful if I wanted to learn about a band. Both sides gave plenty of varied articles with good statistic on cord-cutting, so that's why that was a draw. And Bing won that final round because it pulled the clip I wanted up as the second result, whereas Google gave me a bunch of actual blue shirts.
Of course, that is just the experience of one. But, if Bing's crazy 2:1 findings extrapolate to the entire Internet user population, most of you will like Bing better. And that might be enough reason to switch. Perhaps there are already things that irritate you about Google, like the fact that is has forced Google+ on us, or that its search results often pull up what has happened most recently what that isn't always what's relevant, or that it doesn't carry terms over from Google.com to Google News. But because it is "the best" you've stuck with it. This gimmick might open your eyes to a whole new world of search. Or maybe not. Slate's Farhad Manjoo tried that earlier this year and even though he liked Bing, in the end he decided to stay loyal to the brand he used for all his other Internetting. "Over lots and lots of searches, Bing mostly worked really well, and one or two times, it didn’t," he wrote. But: "If you’re never really going to escape Google—and if Bing is pretty much exactly like Google—what’s the point?" For him and maybe for you too, there is none.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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