Bing Offers Own Version Of “Pepsi Challenge” Against Google: “Bing It On”

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.

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Features: Analysis | Google: Web Search | Microsoft: Bing | Top News

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://twitter.com/liamhgfisher Liam Fisher

    It’s really not a blind test at all when anyone who’s spent more than five minutes looking at Google in their life will be able to tell which of the two is Google and which is Bing.

  • http://twitter.com/nlandrock Nikolaj Landrock

    I totally agree :) And to add to this whole thing – I really don’t think it works in todays marketing. Furthermore, the way Bing communicates on Twitter is, to me, utterly repulsive, for a supposed professional company. “RT if you this, RT if you that” – It’s like the teenagers on Youtube asking for likes when they post comments.

  • Matthew Cole

    I just ran a test and had 1 draw and 4 Google results. It’s arguably all down to personal taste. What this test doesn’t take into account is the user interface of both search engines, which will have a massive impact on peoples preference.

    Still, interesting to see which you actually perfer. If the statistic was the other way around, and people preferred Google 2:1, do you think Bing would advertise it?

  • http://twitter.com/jrpurdon Jeffrey Purdon

    The study they conducted is severely flawed. They had participants do ten queries to select a “winner.” Of nearly 1000 people, just over half of them chose the Bing results 6-10 times. An eighth of them chose Bing just 5 times. The remainder (about a third) chose Bing 0-4 times. It’s deceptive to classify someone who picked Bing results 6/10 times as someone who “prefers” Bing results, and Bing’s blog post doesn’t give us any insight into how many participants fall into this category. Given this, I’d venture a guess that the same results could be achieved by flipping a coin.

    Another major problem is that the study asks participants to choose which engine produced the “best” results, but what is that supposed to mean? Because participants were taken out of their normal search settings and asked for a vague qualitative response, there’s no way to interpret what “best” means in this case. Participants weren’t asked to research topics, purchase something, find answers to questions, or other common search tasks, so how are they supposed to gauge the quality of the results? Which ones are more visually appealing? A more honest study would look at a quantitative metric like task completion time, number of clicks, time spent on page, etc.

    The last thing that makes no particular sense is that ads, Snapshot, Knowledge Graph, and such were stripped out of the “blind” results page. Supposedly these would give too much away about which SERP was being displayed. But both Google and Bing use these tools to improve the quality and usefulness of their results. This is just more evidence about how ill-defined “best results” are for this study. If Google wanted to cry foul (not that they’d bother), they could say that not letting them use their whole SERP would be like telling Coke it wasn’t allowed to use any sweeteners in a blind taste test.

  • Alan Nowogrodski

    There is a note at the bottom that says:

    “Based on a comparison of web search results pane only; excludes ads, Bing’s Snapshot and Social Search panes and Google’s Knowledge Graph.”

    Not a fair comparison…

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.tietjens Richard Tietjens

    Bing is the search engine for people lacking critical thinking skills. Thus I conclude that it’s used by the Tea Party rank-and-file. Those of them able to get someone to turn on their computers for them, at least.

  • musa_aykac

    Microsoft are cleverer then you think.. They know what they are doing

    They are going after the young market so a new generation grow up with Bing being cool and Google eventually become non relevant and unfashionable.

    You can tell this by their song choice and advert for the IE9 browser http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFE4rkSaKOY its targeted toward the young generation

    Google is not the innovative company they once were and have become ignorant and greedy. In the next few years Bing will eat more and more at their market share.

  • Ittiam

    To its credit, bold move by MS…

    But Bing is too late to the game, just like Outlook.

    Google has moved the search away from just ten blue links. Bing may finally win the ten blue links, but does it really matter

  • totnuckers

    ” Bing will eat more and more into their market share.”

    Dream on! bro.

  • http://www.facebook.com/drmani.s Dr.Mani Sivasubramanian

    On 3 out of my 5 searches, I voted ‘Bing’ as being better. Wow!

  • http://profiles.google.com/elad.richardson Elad Richardson

    I think that this whole challenge is kind of misleading.
    First of all, Microsoft removed Google’s knowledge graph from the results, a feature that would have given Google a huge advantage.
    Furthermore, the challenge compares only the results aspect but search is not merely about the results it’s about the whole experience of searching.
    For me, searching with Google is much more engaging, the results appear faster, the whole design is much cleaner and better looking and advanced search tools are easily accessible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ameerulislam Ameer Ul Islam

    I’m an absolute Googler, I chose Google 3 times and draw 2wice. Lol

  • http://searchmonkeys.us/ Karthik kumar

    To add more, Google’s image results (from within the universal SERP) were ripped off too, while Bing’s image results showed up.

    And the results were highly different in the ‘Bing it on’ search results from that of the same queries searched from Google and Bing, individually.

    On a lighter note, I don’t think there is much of a ‘Google habit’ to break. I hear the I’m-gonna-move-over-to-Bing stuff all the time.

  • http://twitter.com/nlandrock Nikolaj Landrock

    I totally disagree – the “young segment” you are talking about are not the ones following Bing on Twitter – so their tweets does not even target the audience they are aiming for (if you are right). It seems like they are shooting blanks in the darkness – if they believe that will give them an edge over Google, they are wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/the.nathaniel.bailey Nathaniel Bailey

    Yeah that’s very true, I could tell with all the searches which was google, but I find this bit funny on the results page (google 3, bing 1 and 1 draw):
    “Google may have won this round, but others picked Bing web search results over Google nearly 2 to 1 in blind comparison tests.*”
    That’s with me picking the winner accordingly to who I thought gave the best results rather then simply picking google all the time lol

    Its a good idea, but it can be cheated very easily because like you side most people would know which results are from google, so we could in fact all go screw with Bings scores/results by spamming the site so that google wins all 5 tests 100s of times!

    Also where’s this bit about winning prices? I didn’t see anything on the site about where or how to enter to win anything!?

  • http://www.facebook.com/the.nathaniel.bailey Nathaniel Bailey

    Yeah but look at this:
    “When the results were tallied, the outcome was clear – people chose Bing
    web search results over Google nearly 2:1 in the blind comparison
    tests. Specifically, of the nearly 1000 participants: 57.4% chose Bing
    more often, 30.2% chose Google more often; 12.4 % resulted in a draw.*” from http://www.bing.com/community/site_blogs/b/thedetails/archive/2012/08/06/bingchallenge.aspx

    That’s not 2:1 IMO its more like 2.7:1.5:0.6 by the percentages given by bing in that post meaning that bing are not coming out on top as much as they say because they are not taking the draws into consideration. Plus the majority of people taking the challenge will be bing users anyway, so they should in fact be losing users from this test because 30.2% of there users in fact find google better then bing!

    The reason behind me saying this is because people using google are very unlikely to see the posts on bing about the test site they have created and so its only logical to believe that the majority of people having taken the challenge so far would be regular bing users meaning the should have a higher percentage picking the bing results as those are what they are use to using.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaroncharliesbt Aaron Charlie

    You don’t Bing are pouring the same resources into fighting spam and improving their algorithm and results? Of course they are, but nobody cares so they don’t have to explain themselves every 5 minutes.

  • John-Pierre Cornelissen

    I think they may be cheating. When I tried Bing won 3 and Google 2. I did not really believe it because I was almost sure to pick Google each time just by the way the results were displayed (ie inline linkedin profile image, other images, video results, etc). I then tried it again on the 3 websites: bingiton.com, bing.com and google.com. I would expect one bingiton.com choice match with bing.com result and the other choice to match with the google.com result. Out of the 5 searches being 10 choices, NON of the bingiton.com left/right results matched with the results I pulled directly from bing.com nor google.com.

  • Jillxz

    I can also tell Bing from Google by the color of the print.

  • Jillxz

    I did it three times and got Bing each time.

  • Jillxz

    I agree with you. personally , I have used Google for years , but have found it necessary to go to Bing to get the results I am looking for. Google results are getting worse. . So I am now using Bing a whole lot of the time.

  • Jillxz

    That’s bull

  • http://www.facebook.com/ronncyndi.smith Ron N Cyndi Smith

    you are spot on, my husband and I did the same thing, and your right if it was a fair search they would have mirrored each other and they did NOT! BING IS CHEATING!!! Someone should do a youtube video of doing exactly that, proving to anyone, which is pretty much everyone who watches youtube that BING IS CHEATING!!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ronncyndi.smith Ron N Cyndi Smith

    Oh and hey what about winning a prize? ya just another trick to get you to do the comps hoping your dumb enough not to actually mirror the searches with google and bing. BOYCOTT BING FOR THIS!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698601890 Alex Bowers

    Not to mention, Google take alot of data about you to help make its decisions. if this is being passed through Bings website to Google, then this data is being stripped out; meaning that you aren’t getting the same results.

    Just try it Search on that website, then go to google, do the exact same search; and see how different the results are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jtgsocial.jtgsocialcom Jtgsocial Jtgsocialcom

    Just with that message on the bing it on site stating that bing wins over google 2 to 1 every. They are trying to convince people that it is actually true. I tried it and got 5 to 0 with Google winning every time. Plus Google has a lot more listings of sites that don’t even show up on bing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eliseo.noriega Eliseo Noriega

    ! DO YOUR OWN CHALLENGE !

    When I did the Bing Challenge they made Bing more attractive by showing the images, maps etc above the rest of the search. On Googles side was only simple wording text with no images witch made it less attractive.
    I knew this was not right so I opened two browsers and DID MY OWN CHALLENGE!.

    BING! Failed to show the results that Google show on the side witch are the images, maps etc thus making Google look less attractive! …FAIL!

    I see this as a desperate attempt from Microsoft to “revive Bing”

    Now, now let’s play fair now. If you’re going to cheat people will eventually catch up to you.

    …and you never know. Pepsi might have “accidentally” drop the cokes or left them out on the sun you know??

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