Across From Google I/O, Microsoft Runs The “Bing It On” Challenge

Coming out of Google I/O at Moscone Center in San Francisco yesterday, I did a double-take. Was that Microsoft pitching its “Bing It On” challenge against Google directly across the street. Yep.

“Put the science back in computer science: test your Google bias inside,” read a big banner, over the entrance to the Metreon Mall, which is across from Moscone.

Inside, there’s a “Bing In On” kiosk:

One side is just an invitation to take the challenge; you actually do the challenge on one of the other sides:

The kiosk simply takes you to the Bing It On site, where you’re invited to run five searches and see which results you prefer, when shown them from Bing and Google side-by-side. You’re not told, however, which results are Bing’s and which are Google’s.

I found the machine pretty sluggish to use. The on-screen keyboard wasn’t very responsive, and it seemed slow to load pages. I gave up trying to complete a test, myself.

No Pictures!

Since anything search-related catches my eye, my immediate reaction was to start taking pictures. That caused a mall security guard to tell me I couldn’t. That just made me want to take them even more, especially when plenty of Google Glass-wearing people were wandering through, any of whom could easily take a picture and not be detected.

Indeed, Search Engine Land editor-in-chief Matt McGee, standing with me and wearing his pair of Google Glass, used them for that purpose.

Later, we both headed over to the Metreon for a midnight screening of Star Trek: Into Darkness (great, great movie, by the way). Coming at 2:30am PT today, we were intrigued to see a guy working on the Bing It On machine:

It was opened up physically, and the challenge screen itself was down, revealing what seems to be Windows 7 underneath.

I asked the guy working on it what he was doing, and he basically just said “stuff.” The weird bit was when I went to take a shot from further out:


By this point, the guy in the red shirt had turned up. When he saw me taking a picture, he started saying I couldn’t. I actually have a really nice in focus shot of him looking at me directly saying this, but I thought I’d spare putting his face out there.

No big deal. I had my picture anyway and headed out. I don’t think any type of rigging was going on. I really don’t, no wink-wink, nudge-nudge. It would be pretty hard to do, since there’s no way to anticipate what someone is going to search for.

But, it was sure weird to see such sensitivity over taking pictures of the kiosk in the middle of a very busy mall, filled with smartphone-carrying people.

Was this installed just for Google I/O? I’m checking on that, but I don’t think so. It does appear to be fairly recent, as I can’t find any references to it when I do various searches. Bing has just ramped up its Bing It On campaign, which began originally last September. It may have been installed as part of that or earlier, as kiosks have been in use for months.

Personally, I’ve actually felt this has been one of Bing’s smarter moves, versus the negative Scroogled campaigns. It pits Bing up against Google in a relevancy fight, and Bing can often do very well.

Postscript: Bing has confirmed to me that the installation was put into place specifically for Google I/O. And last night’s repair was to fix touchscreen issues. All sides of the kiosk should now be working today.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Features: Analysis | Microsoft: Bing | Microsoft: Marketing | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Andy Kinsey

    very interesting … certainly when ive compared the too i prefer google

  • Vincenzo Desroches

    It will always be Google over Bing!

  • brian boatright

    Has anyone at Microsoft Bing! actually tried the challenge? Everyone at my office did and Google won every time. If I were Bing I’d make sure at least these looked better than google “weather” or “sunset”

  • Kumar Rajesh

    I will go with Bing…

  • Alan

    I am about 50/50 on the bing v Google. There are some results for photoshop tutorials that I have to go to bing to find.. well I did until I finally bookmarked them.. I didn’t used to have to bookmark them Google would bring them up and I would click on the ones that I had visited before. I had one particular search query that showed about 4 great photoshop tutorials. Now it shows none of them.

  • Josh

    Good job, MS. Finally showing some guts and stepping out of their boundaries. Despite your choice in search, it’s always healthy and needed to have healthy competition.

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  • Nathaniel Bailey

    “revealing what seems to be Windows 7 underneath” Would they not be more likely to use Windows 8 as that’s been designed to work with touch screens? Anyway…

    It’s good to see Bing doing something positive and interactive like this that will make people talk for the right reasons rather then just seeing MS trying to false bing on us with its OS and trying to put google down, which any good business persons will know is not the way to win new custom!

    I must admit that bing is getting better with its results, but I just can’t seem to break away form google still, 1. because its what I know and have always been happy with using, and 2. its what all our clients want to rank on so its a must for me.

    Having said that though, I do try bing from time to time if google can’t find something I am looking for, so its always good to have more then one search engine in your toolbar and bing doing smart and interactive campaigns like this is just the sort of thing that makes people think ‘google didn’t quite find what I wanted this time, how about bing? they said they can do better, lets find out!’

  • Aunesty Janssen

    Love their marketing “balls” – great move by Bing

  • steve blackburn

    I did the challenge and choose google 5 out of 5 using keywords relevant to my website. Unfortunately Bing isn’t ranking my site as high as google.

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