Microsoft has apparently made good on its threat to challenge Google for search market share, and has resorted to “paying” searchers to use its Live Search – a concept that Chairman Bill Gates had publicly mused about in Dec. 2005.
MSN/Live Search increased its search volume 67% from May to June – and a full 48% from a year earlier (June 2006), according to just released search marketer share figures from Compete.
As a result that extra-ordinary growth, MSN/Live gained market share from its competitors, with Google’s falling 4.3 percentage points in June – to 62.7%, from 67.0% in May, according to a blog post by Compete’s Steve Willis.
“A good portion of the additional Live searches are coming from the Live Search Club, where you can apparently play games for points which you can redeem for fine Microsoft products. All of the games involve using Live’s search engine – to get the points, you have to search with Live,” Willis explains.
The Live Search Club had negligible traffic in April, but in May traffic went up to 0.3 million or so unique visitors – then grew some tenfold in June, accounting for more than 3 million visitors, according to Compete.
“If Microsoft can actually leverage this traffic to club.live.com into actual search users and string together a few more months like this, they could really threaten Google’s top spot,” Willis concludes.
For an idea of how Live Search Club could generate such search traffic, consider a readers’ comment on the Compete blog:
As a club live player, and a participant in various message boards regarding these games, I can offer my opinion that this enormous increase in traffic makes perfect sense. Each time one plays one of these club live games, it racks up dozens of search engine hits, and a game might take 5 minutes. So hundreds of hits per hour. And some of the prizes are so lucrative (for example, a $400 retail version of Windows Vista in exchange for maybe 10 hours of playing games, now that the solutions to all the puzzles have been posted in various places), people play hour after hour after hour. I know of people who have already won 10 or 20 copies of Windows Vista.
In addition, there has been significant amounts of “botting” going on, people running bots which play the games for them. A single one of these people can be generating tens of thousands of search engine hits over time.