Surely you remember (or have heard about) the now classic “Pepsi Challenge” ad campaign from the 1970s and early 1980s. Pepsi went around to public venues like shopping malls and offered people blind taste tests of its own caramel colored soda vs Coke.
Overwhelmingly people preferred Pepsi to Coke. Microsoft is now trying something similar with search. (Blekko did something equivalent last year with its “3 Engine Monte” comparison.)
In a new campaign and with a new website (Bing It On), the company is giving people the ability to compare search results side by side. Microsoft claims that in blind side-by-side comparisons people prefer Bing by 2:1 over Google.
You enter a query (or choose a suggested query) and then decide which unbranded search results you prefer or whether there’s a “draw.” The site asks users to compare five sets of search results and then tells you which engine won the comparison. The site doesn’t present the full search experience for either engine, just the core results.
Microsoft asserts that Bing now has better search quality than Google and is using the site to try and make that case to the public and help people “break the Google habit.” There are prizes offered as an incentive for people to take the challenge; however curiosity may equally compel people to compare results.
I’m sure that bloggers and tech journalists will be testing this today and reporting their findings. We’ll do our own test and offer a follow-up piece later. In the meantime, take the Bing It On Challenge and let us know how your test turned out.
Postscript: Microsoft intends to aggressively promote the Bing It On Challenge on prime time TV and through a range of other channels, including during tonights MTV VMA awards. Microsoft’s Stefan Weitz said that in a study of 1,000 US adults, conducted by a third party research firm, 57 percent of participants preferred Bing results, 30 percent chose Google and 12 percent said it was a draw.
Weitz said that even when Google wins the perception of Bing improves. However Microsoft is confident that on balance Bing will come out the winner more often than not. “If you strip the brands off and show people the results side-by-side we knew we’d win,” said Weitz.