AdWeek and the NY Post are reporting that Microsoft’s use of its popular portal MSN as a traffic driver for Bing is compromising some of MSN’s partner relationships, angering internal sales staff and even costing the company revenue.
The Post reports that “During the past quarter the mix of MSN headlines on its front page that push readers to Bing has grown from 20 percent to 50 percent — and is set to grow further.” And AdWeek wrote, “several high-profile MSN partners are feeling shafted by Bing hogging prime real estate on the MSN home page.”
Roughly a year ago Microsoft said that MSN was driving about half of Bing’s query volume. In addition Microsoft previously said that, globally, MSN has in excess of 600 million users. Therefore it makes sense that Microsoft would seek to leverage the property to build awareness and usage of Bing.
However the quantity of Bing links and “diversion” of traffic away from internal MSN pages and partners has apparently become a real problem for both the partners and the MSN ad sales people according to both articles. AdWeek says that “According to sources, Hearst’s Delish.com endured such a traffic haircut in late summer/early fall of last year that MSN executives had to a write a check for a few hundred thousand dollars just to preserve the partnership.”
Bing appears to be growing organically and has hit a new traffic high, according to the latest Hitwise and comScore data. However MSN continues to play a significant role in Bing’s traffic and query volume. It thus appears that Microsoft will be juggling the ongoing need to use MSN traffic to promote Bing with the need to keep partners happy — for the foreseeable future.
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