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Microsoft today expanded Search & Give, a program that rewards searches in the form of money sent to a preferred charity. After a user signs up for the program, a penny is donated for every search to a choice of about 100,000 schools and 900,000 charities.

The max is 500 searches per user per month, meaning the most each user can donate is $5 per month. But this can add up if enough people use it. Microsoft claims a quarter of a million dollars was generated in trials of the program for charities like the ASPCA (society for prevention of cruelty to animals) and Doctors Without Borders. FAQs on the program can be found here.

This comes weeks after Microsoft’s launch of Cashback, which offers cash rewards to online shoppers who purchase items through the new system. As we wrote at that launch, Microsoft is clearly on a path to differentiate Live Search to a degree that attempts to outweigh the search loyalties and general habits that keep people using Google.

These types of incentives could be the right formula. We’ll see how much impact they can have on search market share.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. It sounds like a great formula but is the incentive enough to change user habits. It feels like the rewards letter I get in the mail every month attached to credit card offers or the booth waiting for you as you get off the airplane offering 25,000 miles if you sign up right now.

  2. I agree Stan. That’s the key question. How strong is search engine loyalty/habits, and will this be enough to impact them? The former part is a bone of contention in the search world. Meta search engines like Dogpile, argued in the past that there is little search engine loyalty. I personally disagree, although maybe loyalty is the wrong word. It’s more of a habitual thing and online behavior is very habitual. So the question is, what is the proper incentive to overcome habits, and if we’re talking about cash, donations, etc., where is the sweet spot? Microsoft’s recent moves could be a nice market experiment for these questions.

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