Is Microsoft’s Scroogled Campaign Working? Not If Gaining Consumers Is The Goal

scroogled logoMicrosoft has been attacking Google’s products and services with its “Scroogled” campaign for almost a year now. Is it working? Ad Age has an interesting story with experts saying yes, in terms of ad effectiveness. But if the ads are judged as effective by actually causing people to switch, I’d say the answer is a big “No.”

Ad Experts & Microsoft Claim Success

Microsoft’s Google-Bashing TV Campaign Is Actually Working is Ad Age’s story, with a headline that seems to leave no doubt that the campaigns, which began with an attack on Google Shopping last November, are effective. The campaigns have lately focused on Gmail.

“For Microsoft it’s a win,” says an exec at an ad effectiveness firm. ”People are going to talk to each other and visit the [Scroogled] website to discuss the issue,” says another.

The story cites stats from research that Microsoft apparently had conducted showing Google’s favorability drops from 45% to 5%, if people do go to the Scroogled site. And the likelihood that someone will recommend Bing to a friend goes up 7% while Google drops 10%. Microsoft itself is quoted as saying the campaign is having a “huge impact.”

If it’s a win, if it’s a huge impact, the ads aren’t reflecting this in consumer switching — which really seems to be the ultimate point of the campaign and how its success really should be measured.

No Win In Email?

Has it worked to get people to switch from Gmail to That’s incredible hard to tell, but chances are, no.

Getting decent stats about email usage is difficult. You’re stuck with occasional self-reported figures or the odd moment when a third-party firm releases estimates. But some stats to consider:

GigaOm reported comScore figures in October 2012 that put Gmail ahead of Hotmail (now and Yahoo but all were in the roughly 250 million unique visitor range, worldwide. For the US, Yahoo was first at around 75 million, followed closely by Gmail and then Hotmail.

If we want to go with self-reported figures, in May, Microsoft said Outlook had reached 400 million active accounts. That compares to 425 million active Gmail users that Google claimed about a year earlier, in June 2012. Scroogled doesn’t seem to have helped Microsoft be able to gain enough users to seize the self-reported crown.

It’s not even clear what type of growth Outlook has had. If it has had growth (and it probably did), was that from Google because of the Scroogled campaign or from the massive non-negative ad campaign that accompanied the transition of Hotmail into Outlook?

There’s no question that Microsoft’s Scroogled campaign makes Google’s process of automatically targeting ads to what’s in your Gmail inbox look creepy. Here’s one of the ads from the Scroogled site:

But whether the ads themselves are driving switching seems very much in question.

Definitely No Win In Search

If you go to the Scroogled site today, it redirects you to a “Home” page that is really about targeting Google over email issues. That makes it easy to forget the entire “Scroogled” thing started out as an attack over Google turning its shopping search engine into a service that’s really just listing a bunch of ads.

That information is still there if you know where to look. But perhaps Microsoft no longer pushes it so hard because it had its own issues in terms of what was sold and not within Bing Shopping. Then, earlier this year, Microsoft completely closed Bing Shopping.

Yes. The attack on Google over shopping search worked out so well, brought in so many new Bing Shopping visitors, that Bing closed its own shopping search engine.

These days, if you want to do a shopping search on Bing, you have to hope that Bing decides that your query is shopping-oriented enough to bring up product ad listings — listings very similar to how Google operates. But Microsoft does claim that shopping sites still get in for “free” through a “Rich Captions” system — one that, arguably, Google could claim to also offer.

Bing did just gain another record share in the United States, 18% of the search market. Look out Google! Nope. Look out Yahoo, because that’s where Bing is gaining its share from. Google, which was at 66.7% share in September 2012, came in at 66.9% in September 2013 — a slight gain.

Microsoft, which earlier this year seemed to suggest it was going to stop the Scroogled campaign, told Ad Age that it will continue on “as long as Google keeps Scroogling people.” So, expect more of these to come, regardless whether the ads actually get people to switch, I guess.

Related Stories

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Features & Analysis | Google: Critics | Microsoft: Scroogled | Top News


About The Author: is Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search marketing and internet 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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  • sanchitkhera7

    Yeah this is similar to the Pepsi V/S Coke campaign during the early 90s. That’s when Jobs hired the CMO of Pepsi. Maybe someone at Microsoft wants to leave as well?

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