'Scroogled' Is Microsoft's Latest Lame Attack on Google's Search Dominance

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The new Microsoft marketing push to get users to switch to Bing is more anti-Google than pro-anything, and it's not exactly working at all. The company's new tagline, "Scroogled," is either a mix between Scrooge and Google or screwed and Google—the Internet can't decide—and is the star of a new campaign warning Googlers about the paid ads lurking behind Google Shopping's results. Because of a change made last year, the results that Google claims as relevant are actually paid ads, as this Microsoft webpage and the accompanying video below explain.

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And while Microsoft imparts this handy information, it also reminds the reader about a little alternative search engine called Bing. Google dominates the search space, of course, with about two-thirds of the market share, to Bing's less than 20 percent, according to October comScore numbers. Market share is one thing, and a PSA is another, but as an ad campaign, well, Scroogled has struck the web today as a lot more lame than Microsoft's previous efforts. (Take it from TechCrunch's Drew Olanoff: "once again, Microsoft has done what it’s best at. Copying and then failing.")

Microsoft has opted for a half-grating tone in anti-Google ads going back over a year. Last July we had G-Mail Man!, which again described very real privacy problems with Google's product. Google reads your mail! And then it serves ads that aren't all that relevant. "Isn't that wrong," asks a woman in the video. But, the too-long YouTube video came off as "straining so hard to be cool, its veins pop out," as CBS Money's Erik Sherman put it.

After that, Microsoft put out some anti-Google newspaper ads. In February came another clip called Googlighting. Again, it brought up real problems, like Google's offline editing and spell-check issues, and AdWeek's David Gianatasio called it lame. Then came the Bing it on Challenge, which asked searchers to do a blind Bing-versus-Google test. For a moment it felt like Microsoft had started to move away from the attack ads, simply asking people to try it out. (I did and was pleasantly surprised, but still use Google as my main engine.) Then Microsoft put up this landing page: 


It's not that Microsoft shouldn't ding its competitors while trying to get us to use its products, especially when it has valid points to make, as it often does. But, judging on the pretty one-sided reaction from an already pro-Google Internet, this antagonism may not be the way to go. Microsoft's current strategy feels kind of like tattle-telling, which gets the job done but never feels quite right. It's not even clear that it's working. Bing's market share rose for the second year in a row this year while Google's held steady. People aren't leaving Google for Bing—the numbers are coming from elsewhere. Maybe something more subtle? Like those anti-Apple Samsung ads, after-which we thought, "huh, good point" — and not "well, that was a little harsh."  

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.