While the trends we see across our client list differ from industry reports that are based on actual search queries, we feel there are several possible factors playing a role in these trends:
1. Three big vertical areas for Bing are Health, Travel and Local. Microsoft specifically targeted these areas and has even incorporated special tools like Farecast, which helps predict the best day to find the lowest price airfare. These verticals are not in line with the bulk of our client base. So in theory, we may just not be seeing the lift.
2. The novelty of something new means we try it and return to our Google habit.
3. There are glitches. Several clients continue to have selective ads not show, which we immediately brought to Microsoft's attention. One response we received stated, "Upon review... we believe that the new system checks used to improve relevance may be inaccurate in this case." A more recent response received states, "My initial guess is that it has to do with relevancy on the backend and the updates that were put in place when Bing was released. We have seen declines in impressions and clicks across several of our clients." When it comes to paid search, we can only measure when our ad serves, not when it does not.
"We have seen declines in impressions and clicks across several of our clients"??? Has Microsoft forgotten that paid search is what makes a search engine profitable? It is this revenue stream that funds every Googler's paycheck. I would think this would create a huge concern for Microsoft, and that there would have to be immediate fixes that could rectify these ad serving issues. (This is where I leverage my regular Search Insider column to hopefully create some urgency.)
On a positive note, I do like Bing. My favorite thing is the scenic, rotating image on the home page, which has resulted in me making it my own default home page. I often check out this image of the day before checking email, getting on Facebook or playing "Mafia Wars." More important, the results are good; however, to truly gain market share, I think it needs to be more revolutionary. It is an improvement on Microsoft Search, but it isn't earth-shattering.
If anyone from Microsoft is interested, I am rooting for you, but that doesn't mean I am not rooting for your rivals, too. My loyalty is to my clients -- and gains for you mean gains for them.