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Microsoft launches Search Perks

Microsoft moves further down the road of buying its way into the search dominance (check out Live Search Cashback they launched back in May) with October 1 launch of a new loyalty points program - Search Perks.

The idea is very simple: search the web with Live Search and get a point for each search (up to 25 a day) which you can exchange for prizes come April 15, 2009. You currently get 500 points just for signing up - enough for a few music downloads or a deck of play cards.

There are a few more things you need to know:

  • The program is open to US residents only.
  • You will need to install a small internet browser add-on.
  • You can’t use it on any other browser but IE.

Encouraged by the free stuff, I initially considered giving Live Search a try, but the browser restriction killed it for me right there. IE is simply no match to Firefox and shuffling two browsers for different tasks is just too much.

Microsoft integrates Jellyfish into Live Search

Microsoft CashbackWhat does it take to dominate web search? One might think a search engine that produces quality results is all that matters, and this is exactly how Google stole the game from Yahoo, Netscape and others back in 90’s. What can you do though if your product has not been that great but you have a huge amount of cash burning your pockets? I am sure Bill Gates and other folks at Microsoft have been asking themselves this same question.

Buying your way into the dominance

Back in October 2007 Microsoft acquired a startup called JellyFish which sort of pioneered CPA model of doing business in the search world. As a way to get things going they offered a cash back incentive to the customers who bought products via their search engine. The idea is not exactly new and there is a whole class of sites called Rewards Programs that build their business around cash back. What JellyFish has done differently was that they promoted the search aspect of it. Many of the rewards sites back then didn’t have a convenient search function, and some required you to sign up for an account before you could do anything. JellyFish prominently displayed search on the front page and only required you to sign up before you make the purchase.

Yesterday Bill Gates announced at the Advance08 conference about a new project Microsoft is undertaking to get on Google. They call it Live Search cashback and the entire initiative essentially boils down to integrating into Live Search the JellyFish idea of CPA based product search. Consumers can get to the savings from the main Live Search page by clicking on the “Get Cashback” icon in the top right corner, or by going to Cashback.com, a domain Microsoft acquired for those unfamiliar with Live.com brand.

live search cashback screenshot

Good for consumers, bad for affiliates

The way all Rewards Programs work is by paying consumer a part of the affiliate commission they receive from the merchant when the consumer buys something using the program. Microsoft’s move into the niche essentially popularizes the cash back concept and makes it available to broader masses, which no question is good for consumers. Just as cash back credit cards, rewards programs is a great way to save while shopping.

On the other hand, the fact that Microsoft has become a “super affiliate” may not do well with businesses who rely on Live Search to bring in sale leads or do affiliate arbitrage. This is clearly a conflict of interest here and will cost Microsoft some of the adCenter customers.

As for the long term Google vs. Microsoft aspect of this move, it is clear Microsoft is desperate and is trying different things in an attempt to gain the search market niche. I will be curious to see how another acquisition they made recently plays out in that aspect.

Microsoft AdCenter $200 Promo Code

Update 01/03: The promotion has had a limit of 2000 users which apparently was reached (see the comments to this post)

I have not spent the $100 I got from the previous promotion when it is time to get on a new one. :-) This is the best deal from Microsoft AdCenter I have seen so far.

Use promo code DM-2-1106 to open a new account before January 15, 2007 and get $200 in free ad clicks. The offer valid for new customers only (this usually means the email you use to sign-up should not already be in their database) and $5 initiation fee will apply.

Microsoft AdCenter Promo

$200 in free clicks from Microsoft AdCenter (via FatWallet)

$100 credit for ad clicks from Microsoft adCenter

Multiple forums have reported over this weekend that Microsoft adCenter is having a promotion again. Use this link and promo code BNR-100-1006 to receive a $100 credit when you sign up.

Offer valid through January 15, 2007, valid for new accounts only (a one time $5 activation charge will apply), valid for the first 1000 who sign up. For more details read the discussion at SlickDeals and DigitalPoint.

Get $75 Worth of Yahoo Sponsored Search

Well, it looks like the $100 worth of advertising deal from last week is not working any more (at least the Google part) so here is another promo. This time from Yahoo. Follow this link to sing up for a new account ($5 initiation charge will follow) and use promo code USDM0087. You will get a $75 credit in Yahoo sponsored advertising.

YahooPromo

Here is a relevant discussion at the FatWallet forums.

Update 11/02: I have applied for this one. After the 3 “easy steps” were complete I didn’t see any mentioning of $75 credit in my account. I contacted the support and here is their reply:

Our records show that when you created your account, you entered a promotional code good for a $75 credit. Please allow 2-3 business days for this credit to be applied. We appreciate your patience.

My experience with Google is different. The credit was there as soon as I logged in. I guess this is one of those little things which when added up explain why Google gives Yahoo a run in the search engine market :-)




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