When it comes to search on the web, which search engine do you prefer: Google, Yahoo!, or Bing? In their recent advertising campaign, Bing claimed to be provide the preferred search results over Google 2:1 through their blind test on BingItOn.com. The statistic came from a small study of 1,000 users, so a Yale professor took it upon himself to replicate the study with the help of four of his students. Watch the video and see the infographic below to find out the results of the study, what implications it might have, and which search engine came out supreme!


Hello, and welcome to our video where we’re going to be talking about the “Bing it On” challenge. I’m Chad Hill and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Good morning, Chad. Bing it On! This is interesting. I’m having flashbacks to the 80’s and the Pepsi challenge. You couldn’t go to a carnival or festival without walking into a little booth where they’d have a little blind taste test. I guess this is a typical tactic for the brand that’s trailing behind, the number two brand, as was the case in the 80’s with Pepsi trying to catch up with Coke. Here we have Bing, a search engine, trying to catch up with Google.

We all know Google has become fairly synonymous with search, it is now a verb. The latest comScore data shows that nearly 67% of searches are done through Google with Microsoft’s Bing only pulling in about 18%. That’s a very big divide, and over the last year, Bing has really been pushing huge advertising campaigns, mega bucks, and most recently, this marketing PR stuff with the 'Bing it On' challenge. Now, they’re claiming that when they do this challenge, users 2:1 prefer the Bing results to Google. That has stirred up a controversy and that’s the news today. What is the real story here?

Right, well there was a study that Microsoft commissioned. Certainly, you mentioned the fact that the power of brand is huge because you see this very big usage gap between Google’s search engine market share and Bing’s search engine market share. But, what Bing wanted to show was that people actually prefer their search results, so the stats I think they came back with were that 52% of people preferred Bing over Google, 36% preferred Google, and 12% thought they were equal. What happened is a professor at Yale wanted to challenge because he thought two things:

1. The sample size that they used was pretty small for such a big public claim.
2. Bing has not made the Bing it On challenge results public for people to really thoroughly analyze.

So, he conducted his own study, and basically came back with the fact that 53% of the participants preferred Google and 41% preferred Bing, so they did kind of overthrow the initial results. But, I still think, based on the difference that we talked about, the difference between the current market share, that the fact that Bing’s coming in at 41% versus 53%, it’s not as big of a gap in the actual results of what people prefer as you might think, right?

Right, so there’s actually a couple of stories here. One is the challenge that Bing brought out, the Bing it On challenge, and the results that they put up of 2:1 do seem to be debunked. So, they overstated their case or had a bad sample size or whatever happened, and this Yale study is very interesting. But I think the second story is what you’re hinting at, which is that when they did an independent study, it came up that 53% prefer Google's search results, I see the same stats here that you do, and 41% Bing's search results. That’s not as big of a divide as I would have expected from an independent study that’s non-biased, given the difference in search engine market share. So, that leads to a probably more interesting analysis for our internet marketing viewers here. Why is the market share so slanted if actually the quality of the product is within about ten or 12 points of each other from an independent reviewer?

Well, I think that all comes back to a lot about marketing and the power of a brand. So, Google has the brand, as you said, they’ve been around the longest. So they have the brand, but they also have some pretty key distribution deals that may change over time, but they have a very strategic partnership with Firefox, they of course have the most popular browser at this point, Chrome, and Chrome defaults to Google. So, they’ve done some smart distribution deals over time, but then of course, there’s the idea that their brand is synonymous with search, so in fact we hear a lot of people talk about talk about “Googling” things. You don’t really hear people as much saying “Let me go Bing that.”

Right, and the power of brand, you can’t really stress that enough. The recent rankings came out, and I think it’s Apple on top, Google is now number two in terms of recognizable brand and brand value, beating out Coca-Cola, which has been a long-time leader in this space. So yeah, the power of brand is crazy strong. Microsoft and Bing still have an uphill battle. But, I think the takeaway story here is for Bing, you know, go Bing! This is actually showing that they’ve done quite a bit of improvement on their results. I know we were encouraging users to try to Bing a couple years ago, I know they’ve tried a couple other stunts before they re-branded, and the consensus seemed to be that the quality was really much worse in terms of the search results.

Here, an independent study is showing that they’re really not all that different, and the rest is marketing hype, so, it’s interesting to watch these dynamics. You know it reminds me a bit of what’s going on in the mobile marketplace with Apple iOS and Android too, because clearly the marketing momentum is behind Apple, but more and more, feature to feature, when you do these independent studies, you see Android actually coming out on top in a lot of categories and you actually now see the market share shifting. I wonder if we’ll see the same thing here. I don’t know. I’d be really interested in your thoughts. We hope you’ll subscribe and let us know what you’re seeing. Do you use Bing? Do you like it? We’d like to hear. Thanks so much.