Bing Attacks Google Shopping With “Scroogled” Campaign, Forgets It’s Guilty Of Same Problems

Bing is attacking Google over its shift to a pay-for-play shopping search engine through a new “Scroogled” site, pledging that Bing has “honest search.” Great campaign, if it were true. It’s not. Bing itself does the same things it accuses Google of. It’s also another indictment of how little the FTC is doing to protect consumers from “search results” they might not realize are ads.

Google Shopping Goes All-Ads

Earlier this year, Google changed to a “paid inclusion” or pay-to-play model of accepting listings for its Google Shopping site. Phased in over the summer, as of October 17, only merchants who pay appear in the search engine, within the US (the change will expand globally over the coming year).

The change is remarkable for two reasons. First, it was a complete reversal of Google’s long-standing fight against paid inclusion programs, something it once labeled as evil. It also hasn’t resulted in a massively improved shopping search as Google promised. I’ve covered both in detail in my stories below:

Bing’s “Scroogled” Campaign

Enter Bing, which launched its Scroogle site attacking Google over these changes:

The site highlights the change at Google to an all-ad system and how this shift may harm consumers:

Google admits they’ve now built “a purely commercial model” that delivers listings ranked by “bid price.” Google Shopping is nothing more than a list of targeted ads that unsuspecting customers assume are search results. They call these “Product Listing Ads” a “truly great search.”

We say that when you limit choices and rank them by payment, consumers get Scroogled. For an honest search result, try Bing.

There’s also a blog post out from Bing today making similar charges and attacking Google over a lack of clear disclosure:

Shoppers visit the site they have used for years, conduct what they think is a “search,” and get a set of rankings that look like the objective results Google delivers elsewhere. Meanwhile, the lawyers at Google are now calling it a “listing.” They even call out – hidden behind a disclaimer or buried in a footer — “Payment is one of several factors used to rank these results.”

Comparing The “Honesty” Of Google & Bing

I’ve been one of the biggest critics about Google’s change, which has indeed been largely under-the-radar. Unfortunately, Bing is hardly in a position to be lecturing Google about poor disclosure and charging for listings, when it has the same issues.

Here’s a search on Bing for “lego death star,” which brings up Bing Shopping results inserted into the listings:

 Here’s the same search on Google, which also inserts its shopping results:

The key difference is that Google’s results have a “Sponsored” disclaimer over it, one that even expands with more information if you over over the label (though few likely do this). Bing has no such disclaimer, despite the fact that some of its listings come through merchants paying to appear.

Let’s drill into both, now seeing what appears within the shopping search area itself. Here’s what Bing shows:

The arrow highlights a new disclosure that Bing has added as part of its attack on Google, a reassuring statement that says:

Payment is NOT a factor used to rank search results in Bing.

As I’ll explain, payment is indeed a factor, which to me makes this disclosure for consumers untrue. But first, let’s look at what Google does:

Off to the right, Google has a “Why these products?” message, which appears to be Google’s attempt to meet the US Federal Trade Commission requirements for disclosure of paid inclusion listings. If you click on it (which again, few are likely to do), you get this further explanation:

It says:

Products and offers that match your query. Google is compensated by these merchants. Payment is one of several factors used to rank these results.

Bing’s own disclaimer is clearly keying off of Google’s disclosure, using similar language to highlight that at Google, while payment is a factor used to rank results, at the honest search engine of Bing, it is not.

Can Consumers Tell What’s Paid For?

Back on the Scroogle site, Bing also stresses that this type of disclosure is so unclear that consumers can’t be expected to tell what’s paid and what’s not, comparing Google Shopping and Google News together:

I’d be applauding Bing for making this point, something I stressed to the FTC myself with my letter about poor search engine disclosures earlier this year, but instead I find myself in the odd position of having to point out that Bing makes this point better through its own poor disclosure.

Bing’s Lack Of Disclosure

How can consumers know what’s paid and what’s not? If that’s the issue Bing is concerned about, it not only fails to explain this at Bing Shopping but worse suggests that payment isn’t involved, when it is.

How does Bing Shopping get its results? Despite a 1,000 word blog post explaining all that’s wrong with the Google Shopping model, Bing never explains the Bing Shopping process. Nor does the help page at Bing Shopping explain this. That new disclaimer doesn’t explain it, either. It implies that Bing Shopping somehow lists all relevant merchants for free. That’s not the case.

If you’re a merchant, and you know where to look (a place a consumer almost certainly won’t stumble upon), you get to this page about getting listed in Bing Shopping:

The page highlights that there is currently only one way to get listed in Bing Shopping, which is to submit to, which lists people who agree to pay.

Bing’s Pay-To-Play Program

In other words, if you want to be in Bing, you have to pay — exactly like Google. Moreover, the page says that merchants doing this will get:

Higher visibility: Paid offers will be highlighted throughout Bing Shopping, including search result and product pages.

Higher visibility in search results? You mean you’ll rank better in search results, by paying to be listed? In the search results that Bing just told consumers that payment isn’t a factor?

Now as it turns out, after talking with Bing today, it’s not as simple as all that. But from a consumer standpoint, which is what this entire campaign that Bing has launched is about, it does appear Bing is being completely hypocritical, based on information out there in the public view.

Bing Responds

I put all this to Bing director Stefan Weitz. First up, how can Bing launch such an attack on Google’s all-paid model when it apparently just removed the free submission option that it used to offer. That page above, that I mentioned about getting listed, says this:

At this time, we are not accepting new merchants for this program. Please check back periodically for updates pertaining to on-boarding. In the meantime, new merchants may list their products through our partner, whose results appear on both Bing Shopping and the network.

That restriction, the dropping of the free listing program, was just added to that page in the past few days (it wasn’t there when I looked last week), though apparently it started back on September 12.

Bing: Free Submissions Closed Temporarily

Weitz said that the program has only been dropped temporarily, something he said Bing did last year, as well, just ahead of the holiday shopping period, to better protect the quality of its results from merchants who might try to get into the rush period with duplicate products. Plans are to restore this after the New Year.

Ironically, this is the same argument Google has used about not taking free listings — that it will supposedly lead to better quality, so Bing’s “temporary” closure seems to support Google here.

Bing’s temporary closure also raises alarm bells given how last year, several major “Black Friday” sites found themselves mysteriously dropped for nearly a month, just before Black Friday hit:

Bing: Most Shopping Results Aren’t Paid

Weitz also said that the most listings within Bing Shopping come from merchants who are already in the free listings program and through Bing’s crawling of the web. “We don’t get paid for the majority of products in there,” he explained.

All that was news to me. All that would be news to any consumer, because as I’ve covered, Bing doesn’t explain how Bing Shopping works to consumers. To merchants, the implication is that it’s pay-to-play through (and that’s definitely that case for any new merchant who comes right now).

The Payment As Ranking Factor Issue

What about that claim to consumers that at Bing Shopping, “payment is not a factor used to rank results.” Clearly some merchants only get listed because they paid to be included in, which in turn got them listed in Bing. Payment isn’t the primary factor for ranking well, but it is a factor for these companies. If they didn’t pay, they wouldn’t have a chance to rank at all.

“There’s paid inclusion and there’s pay-to-rank,” Weitz said. “That’s a far different scenario than having to pay Google to be there,” he explained.

The point Weitz’s is trying to make is that with Google, if you don’t pay, you have no chance of ranking at all, because you don’t get included at all. With Bing Shopping, paying is one way of being included, but not the only way, so he doesn’t count that as a ranking factor.

He further stressed that Bing doesn’t know how much people are willing to pay to, so payment is further insulated from having an impact.

“The fact someone did pay to be in, to us, it looks just like any other [non-paying] merchant. To us that someone paid does not effect the ranking in those organic listings,” Weitz said.

Weitz even further argued that technically, paid inclusion isn’t even happening at Bing since merchants don’t pay until someone’s actually clicked on a link and gone on to purchase an item.

What about the section in the Bing “getting listed” page that talks about gaining higher visibility by paying, something that also gets covered in the Bing Merchant Integration Guide:

Higher visibility is again touted, including “exposure within Bing’s editorial content.”

Weitz said this isn’t about ranking better but instead that merchants might get pulled out as a “sponsored offer” highlight or in other ways. That may be the case, but it sure reads to potential merchants as if using means they’ll rank better.

Weitz also told me, “We need to do a better job explaining the shopping system” to consumers.

Payment Is A Factor; Doesn’t Control Ranking With Either

Overall, Weitz makes some good points, but I still think the claim that payment isn’t a factor doesn’t hold up. Even if only some people are paying to be included, that payment is still a factor in whether they’ll ultimately rank.

In addition, Google — and it reconfirmed this for me — isn’t just ranking merchants first because they pay the most. As with all of Google’s ads, how much an advertiser will pay is one of several factors that controls if they’ll rank better.

But the Scroogle site misleadingly — and in multiple ways — suggests that Google simply ranks merchants by payment. For example, a video on the site has this segment saying results are sold to the highest bidder:

That’s just not true. Results are sold; only those who pay are included, but it’s not high bid wins.

Why Isn’t The FTC Enforcing Its Consumer Guidelines?

This leads to what I feel is the far bigger issue, that consumers may find it difficult to understand what’s a paid listing or not at Google, Bing or any number of search engines, despite the FTC having guidelines that are supposed to help here.

It’s so bad that twice now, we’ve had Google competitors publicly attack Google over supposedly poor disclosure despite having bad or no disclosure themselves.

In June, Nextag CEO Jeffrey Katz penned a well-cited letter in the Wall Street Journal attacking Google’s supposed lack of consumer transparency. He was unconcerned that Nextag itself wasn’t doing, as best I can tell, the proper disclosure of its paid inclusion program required by the FTC. My article from then explains more:

Now we have Bing attacking Google over disclosure, and it’s deja vu. Bing Shopping does paid inclusion. Until last week, it wasn’t disclosing this in a way that would seem to have met the FTC guidelines. This week, it’s arguably doing misleading disclosure, as part of a campaign to attack Google about disclosure?

I asked Weitz if he felt Bing was doing disclosure as required by the FTC. His response? He needed to check with Microsoft’s lawyers.

Wrong response. The correct answer is yes, because if you’re a search engine, then your executives should absolutely know 100% that your company believes it is doing the required disclosure. Google certainly does. Whenever I’ve asked, or seen them asked about this topic, they’ve said yes.

That doesn’t mean that everyone will agree that consumers feel Google’s disclosures are useful, of course. But at least it tries, in many places. That competitors who don’t even try at disclosure attack Google on the topic is mind-boggling, depressing, a sad indictment that the search engine industry really doesn’t seem to care about the FTC’s rules.

Then again, why should they? The FTC doesn’t. It’s never taken an enforcement action over its disclosure guidelines despite the rules being on the books for the past 10 years. I can’t even get the FTC to formally admit they’re looking at the issue despite rumors it might be — and probably only are because of my letter to them this year.

Google’s Change Is Disappointing

I’ll leave with two takeaways from all this.

First, that Bing has stumbled in its attack doesn’t take away from the fact that Google has dramatically changed from an inclusive shopping search to one that’s motivated about payment.

As a searcher, you won’t find products sold directly through Amazon on Google Shopping because Amazon won’t pay. That’s a loss for searchers, and one that Google could fix by ensuring that Amazon and any important merchants are carried for free (Bing, by the way, tells me it does carry Amazon for free).

It’s a shame that Google has moved away from its inclusive roots. Again, my previous stories that cover this more:

By the way, Google’s statement today about the issues that Scroogle raises pushes back on this:

Google Shopping makes it easier for shoppers to quickly find what they’re looking for, compare different products and connect with merchants to make a purchase. With new 360-degree, interactive product images, social shopping lists and a fast growing inventory of more than a billion products worldwide, Google is a great resource for shoppers to find what they need, at great prices for their loved ones this holiday season.”

As for disclosure, it said:

Google Shopping results are clearly labeled “sponsored” on our search results pages as a clear guide to users

Lack Of Consumer Protection Is Disappointing

Second, the fact that competitors feel empowered to attack Google on this topic despite their own failures is, as I said, an indictment of the FTC.

The agency has spent so much time focusing on anti-competition issues that it’s neglected the basic definition of what a search engine is, what search listings are and how those are properly disclosed.

As I said in my letter to the FTC in June, without those type of definitions, trying to undertake an anti-trust review seems futile:

Now that Google is turning former search engines like Google Product Search into paid inclusion/advertising products like Google Shopping, the definitions are even more important — and not just for the handful of competitors claiming an issue with Google but for the millions of consumers that use these search engines sometimes without clear disclosure of why they get certain results….

I understand that the FTC has been mostly involved at late investigating whether consumers are being harmed by possible anti-competitive actions of Google. However, the FTC also has a role in protecting consumers from misleading and confusing advertising across all search engines. A review of your guidelines would be especially helpful given changes in the space now and perhaps necessary for any proper anti-trust review you’re doing.

More about the FTC’s role with guidelines can be found in my stories below:

Finally, one last note. I was somewhat surprised Bing went with the “Scroogled” name given that until earlier this year, there was a long-standing “Scroogle” search engine that started out way back in 2003 as a protest over ranking changes at Google seemed designed to some by Google to boost its bottom line. It felt like Bing could have come up with a different name.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Features: Analysis | Google: Google Shopping | Legal: Regulation | Microsoft: Bing Shopping | 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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  • Michael Martin


    Microsoft (as well Expedia, Hotwire, Kayak, Oracle & Nokia) have lobbied the FTC with its “remedies” last week under the cover of –

  • Jim Christian

    This argument is lame. As a consumer the only thing I care about is that I get my lego death star at the cheapest price. I could care less if it’s a paid listing or not. I think most would agree.

  • Durant Imboden

    I’m not a fan of Google Shopping, but I believe Google has a legitimate case to make when it says that Google Shopping is advertising, not “paid inclusion” in its organic search results.

    As for Bing, it isn’t going to chew chunks off Google’s market share with a silly “Scroogle” campaign. If Bing wants to compete with Google, it needs to focus on delivering SERPs that are clearly superior to Google’s. With Google’s Universal Search becoming more cluttered than Great-Grandma’s china cabinet, that may not be an insurmountable challenge.

  • Danny Sullivan

    If the cheapest listing is from a merchant that a search engine doesn’t carry because that merchant doesn’t want to pay to be listed, then you would care very much — because you’re not going to find that Lego Death Start at the cheapest price.

  • OAR_John

    Just for the record, Amazon might not show up in Google Shopping; but when I do a generic search for a product on Google, a link to a matching item on Amazon is almost always in the top three returns.

  • tubby_bartles

    Google’s shopping search sucked until they moved to paid inclusion. It’s too easy to game commercial results and fraudsters were invading it. I had talked to the team in the past – they tried a lot of things, and the fraudsters just gamed any system they put in place. Paid inclusion isn’t a greedy move in this case, it’s a better consumer experience move.

  • Alan

    Good on Bing for doing this. I don’t think it will change what Google does or even affect Google’s market share but it is about time the Kettle started calling the Pot Black!

    That is what we have here, yes Bing is being hypocritical but that’s fine someone with the money to do something about how Evil Google is becoming is having an attempt, not a good one but at least they tried .

    Anyway Hypocrites are all around us these day’s.. Hey Danny!

  • Joe Luhman

    A thoughtful, informed post. I like real journalism. Thanks, Danny!

  • Alan

    Danny has an unnatural loathing of . Actually in this instance it is natural to hate such lobby groups Danny just doesn’t hate Google’s lobby groups.

  • JadedTLC

    One problem is this though – what if it’s cheaper but that person didn’t pay to be in Google shopping? That’s the issue with all of these non search engine tactics on search engines.

  • John E Lincoln

    Nice post Danny. Pretty clear both SE are trying to make a buck. Classic Coke and Pepsi now.

  • Matt Muncy

    You know how I shop online? I go to and type what I want.

  • Tien V Nguyen

    This is a great call out of Bing’s unwarranted and hypocritical call out of Google.

    “Weitz even further argued that technically, paid inclusion isn’t even happening at Bing since merchants don’t pay until someone’s actually clicked on a link and gone on to purchase an item.”

    This is completely untrue. Our agency manages comparison shopping campaigns and it is a fact that:

    a) A merchant that is currently on Bing Shopping (meaning they signed up a long time ago..because as you pointed out you can’t sign up anymore) AND with will still pay for many clicks.

    We can observe this easily because with URL tagging, (we’ll append Bing and feeds with appropriate tags), doing a search for our merchants products on BING will return products with tags (and not Bing’s).

    If a merchant for instance submits the same product to both directly to Bing, and to, Bing has greater incentive to list the product because they can charge Shopping for it, who in turn charges the merchant.

    b) It is completely false that a merchant won’t “pay until someone’s actually clicked on a link and gone on to purchase an item”. The instance a link is clicked on Bing, or any other partner/affiliate that has…including Google…the merchant will get charged for it.

    It is odd that Weitz is so out of touch with Bing’s practices and willing to comment and falsingly state How Bing works–because as you’ve stated, the only way to list your products on Bing is through, and even if if you were previously listing on Bing, IF you are on as well, you will pay for those clicks as well.

    So the only way for a merchant to not pay for listings on Bing is: 1) Be previously signed up, and 2) Not list their products on

  • ScottyMack

    I’m not sure if I agree entirely with some of your points like Amazon and other big brand names are somehow more “important” than mom and pops are and deserve to be listed for free. Anyone not smart enough to type in when they are searching for a product has likely been living under a rock. No, Google has done more for the big name companies in their organic search than they deserve since April and they don’t need any extra boost; they’re doing just fine. Nonetheless, I agree wholeheartedly with the overall point of this piece, although I am much happier as a merchant that Google Shopping is a paid for service now – far less competition!

    I certainly saw the Microsoft Ads as the most hypocritical thing I’ve seen since … well … the U.S. Presidential elections. I have been trying to sign up for free Bing Product listings for a new website since September and paid inclusion has been the only option. As we all know, September is hardly peak shopping season so only the truly gullible would ever believe that line of bull. The rationale that consumers don’t want more choices during peak shopping seasons is nothing short of inane.

    Wietz is surely wasting his spinning talents at Bing. Washington is always looking for a few more bad men!

  • Danny Sullivan

    That’s thanks to Google embracing affiliates into Google Shopping. The irony is that elsewhere, Google has tried to cut affiliates out of search results, finding they can be an unneeded middleman. But since they lack originating sites, Google’s finding them useful for shopping.

  • ScottyMack

    Well, then you can make the same argument for the organic listings. With this rationale, maybe Google should list product searches by price instead of what their latest algorithmic abomination does.

  • Danny Sullivan

    I didn’t mean to suggest that only big companies should get a pass. Ideally, you don’t want to leave anyone out who is an important unique supplier of products, big or small.

  • okungnyo

    WTF did I just read? Lol

  • okungnyo

    That’s because Google’s lobbying groups don’t employ FUD tactics to bring down competitors that they can’t compete with.

  • Alan

    I don’t know it appears you can’t read.

  • Alan

    You are one serious fan boy! Nearly every comment you do is either sticking up for Google, Android or some other Google product! They don’t need you to stick up for them, they got enough money to look after themselves.

    Google’s lobbying groups are just as bad as Microsoft numbnutz.

  • Danny Sullivan

    Thanks for the comment, appreciate hearing. I was very disappointed that Google dropped free inclusion. It was the wrong way to go. I think Bing could have made a bigger splash with this if it announced it was doing away with its paid side.

  • Danny Sullivan

    Google makes a real effort to include all types of content from across the web for web search. You’re concerned that being included might not equal ranking well, which is fair enough. But they are different things.

  • ScottyMack

    We’ll just have to respectfully disagree with one another here. Yes, they are different things, which is why including companies in paid listings for free because … well … they just should be there, makes no sense. I guess I’m not sure why people feel entitled to this free space, just because they were lucky enough to get it in the past. I’d like to get some free ads here on Search Engine Land. Why are you any more entitled to charge for your space than Google is? They still at least provide free ones in the form of organic listings!

  • Jack N Fran Farrell

    It’s a dual programming problem the solution to one (what to find) is dual to (who’s willing to pay the most in ads) to help find it. In an ideal market the advertiser picks annonamous targets while the searcher and the helper both get better deals. Question is the market riggged. Even the SEC computers will never know for sure.

  • Durant Imboden

    Of course the “bias in Google’s [shopping] results is pervasive.” The shopping results are ads. That’s why they’re labeled “Sponsored” and displayed in a box.

  • jemin

    Google deserves everything that’s coming to them. Bing is honest and quite frankly they have better search results. Tied into Facebook is a plus. Very pleased with Bing. Maybe Bill Gates can send Google a free toilet as they have gone to pot.

  • robthespy

    Funny, Danny- I was thinking the exact same thing a few days ago.

    I like that MSFT is going after Google so directly. But they’re opening up (encouraging) scrutiny of their services. And they don’t hold up. Both “Shopping” experiences are completely disjointed, inaccurate and not real helpful even in the best cases.

    Google PLA’s work for advertisers, I can say that w/o any doubt! So they’re doing something right. So while paid inclusion is probably a step forward from a user experience (as they claimed it would), its a lazy approach.

    People keep saying, “I just go to Amazon”….I think many advertisers would like to see Google & Bing shopping

    Google shopping works nicely from the Web SERPS but not so well if you actually venture into the “Shopping” results section.

  • Brian Hartman

    Bing can’t possibly have better search results. Bing results *are* Google results.

  • Greekgeek

    It’s also unfair to the real Scroogle, a vital tool that many of us used for years and still mourn: a Google search with personalized results stripped out.

  • robthespy

    I just a cleaner turd.

  • robthespy

    Do we really want the FTC or any Gov. agency involved? There are certainly more important things they could interfere with.

    If they were to actually do something, it will be years too late.

  • Adam Grunwerg

    Just because Google have shareholders doesn’t mean they have a right to do what they’re doing.

    People forget they already have revenues of $40 billion. Most of the growth they do now if based on screwing over others, e.g. copying Facebook, forcing people on to G+, blowing up even more 30s ads on Youtube, promoting their own stuff in vertical search, adding sponsored ads and paid inclusion for shopping. The growth isn’t natural because they’re not growing by providing the best product or user experience. They’re growing because they’re using their monopoly in search to promote their other products, reduce the competition and increase their ad revenues, as well as screw over mom n pop businesses that do SEO.

  • André DeMarre

    Regarding the Bing Shopping getting started page, you say: “The page highlights that there is currently only one way to get listed in Bing Shopping, which is to submit to, which lists people who agree to pay.”

    But the page and your screenshot of it clearly show that there are TWO ways: (1) or (2) submitting a feed directly.

  • Ugly Sweater Shop

    And I’m not in Bing shopping as they refuse to include vintage items, etc. At least Google still loves ugly Christmas sweaters! :-)

  • Ugly Sweater Shop

    Too bad, you really are missing out on some awesome things from unique shops :-)

  • Ugly Sweater Shop

    They stopped allowing merchants to submit feeds in September of this year, I believe.

  • Freed G.


  • footballersguide

    the story was first published in first time i read it, i thought it was a joke

  • MonopolizedSearch

    Bing is quite accurate in their assessment. Particularly for obscure products, there are very few listings in Google Shopping. What products are there are inflated in price, which leaves the consumer paying more. This is the whole reason why Google’s marketshare is a threat to businesses both small and large. Without debate or input from others, Google’s actions can have a broad impact on all industries that rely on ecommerce transactions. Even those with personal websites are impacted too. Take a look at the link removal requests that are still being sent out. How many millions of man hours are lost sending, responding and complying with such requests? Who must foot the bill for this burden? Once again, the little guys are the ones most adversely affected.

  • cjvannette

    Agreed. Bing needs to stop wasting its time taking potshots at Google. The Bing It On campaign had potential; this will not be effective.

  • cjvannette

    Some people specifically want to find merchants OTHER than

  • Danny Sullivan

    Bing might or might not. There’s no way to tell, because there’s no disclosure of what’s paid or not — which is exactly the point that Bing is attacking Google over. Given that, I don’t think it’s mountains out of molehills at all. I think it’s fairly asking that if you’re going to attack someone, maybe you shouldn’t attack them over the same thing you’re also doing.

    Scroogled is a play on that, just like the long-standing Scroogled site is.

  • Danny Sullivan

    They don’t pay me anything. I don’t always come to their defense and, in fact, have attacked Google on anti-competitive grounds many times and well before the FTC even got involved. This also has nothing to do with a monopoly issue. This has to do with consumer disclosure. The fact that Bing is raising the issue is coming directly out of my own reporting — and my own criticisms of Google — earlier this year, not the least was a letter to the FTC asking it to investigate what Google and other search engines are doing.

  • Danny Sullivan

    If you’re a little guy, and you’re not in Bing right now, you can’t get in unless you do exactly the same thing as Bing is slamming Google for, paying.

  • Danny Sullivan

    The article explains that the free program was discontinued earlier this year. This is also noted on the Bing pages.

  • Danny Sullivan

    It doesn’t gloss over that. It examines it in depth, and explains that payment is indeed part of Bing’s ranking system, in that some people will only be included because they paid — and if you aren’t included, you can’t rank. In addition, it’s not at all as simple as paying more to Google to rank better, despite Bing trying to present things as if it’s that way.

  • Jaimie Sirovich

    Danny has it wrong to a degree. Yes, Bing takes money — but only sometimes — and when they do it’s a simpler per-category model. You choose or don’t choose to advertise at a certain price. It’s similar for eBay and Amazon because the payment isn’t for listing it’s for the conversion. Paying is _not_ the problem, it’s what you’re paying _for_.

    Google makes it more complex and murkier. You pay to rank better, and that’s more problematic because the consumer doesn’t know the ranking isn’t objective. You’re paying to rank, not for inclusion. I think that’s more problematic, and while most consumers understand that you might pay to be on eBay or Amazon, they would not understand exactly what’s going on with Google Products.

    eBay will rank you a little better for being a better seller, and they’ll let you buy a different color or better pictures for a listing, but all of that is more transparent. They also are very forthcoming with a sort option for lowest price. My 2c.

    Correct me if I’m wrong or you disagree.

  • Jon Openshaw

    I think the only reason I even know about Scroogled is because of SEL. Rather a shame.

  • Danny Sullivan

    Actually, Bing makes it murkier. With Google, it’s pretty simple. You pay, and you have a chance to appear. That’s why Bing has a video that effectively replaces all the listings with the words “ads.”

    But with Bing, maybe it’s an ad, maybe it’s not — who knows? The consumer certainly doesn’t. Google could do a similar video back at Google saying “ad or not, can you figure it out?”

    Bing would have you believe also that at Google, you pay to rank better. That doesn’t appear to be the case at all.

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