Microsoft's Bing Quits on Giving Cash Back
Well Microsoft is killing another product. This time it is the cashback feature on its popular search website Bing. Microsoft is citing reasons of popularity and adoption for killing the Bing Cashback feature, stating "after a couple of years of trying, we did not see the broad adoption that we had hoped for." To me Microsoft’s statement is a little vague. Are they referring to consumer adoption or merchant adoption? My interpretation is consumer adoption, so that’s the perspective I’ll take. Perhaps to Microsoft Bing wasn’t popular in relative proportions, but it definitely had a user base and a following. You could find constant mentions of it in popular deal forums like SlickDeals and FatWallet. It even had its own acronym, namely BC or BCB, commonly used in the forums. A growing user base, especially in a niche space like loyalty/cashback, needs nurturing and constant attention. This may have been too much for a giant like Microsoft to deal with.
It just isn’t that simple…
One thing I couldn’t figure out was how Microsoft was offering such high cash back rates. It didn’t seem sustainable… In fact, I don’t think it was. The extremely high cashback rates, which I imagine took quite a bit of their ability to generate profits (ROI), had to play a role in its closure… And I’m not the only one thinking this. Brian Smith at ComparisonEngines.com states "At the end of the day, I have a feeling that it wasn’t exactly ‘adoption’ that killed Bing Cashback, but rather poor ROI." Brian also offers some quality (and different) insights in his post titled Bing Cashback Retired (which I’d suggest reading as well).
But let’s take a real-life example, Overstock.com. Bing offers up to 15% back on purchases, tripling its closest competitors. (Cashback Comparison chart below provided from the Evreward.com – cashback aggregator site)
If you do some research you’ll notice this to be a common trend. Bing has often offered more in cashback percentage (%) then a normal affiliate could even generate as commission percentage!
Looking back… The life of Bing Cashback.
JellyFish fished launched in 2006, almost exactly 4 years ago. With its innovative features in the space it quickly gained popularity. Only a little over a year later it was snatched up by Microsoft. Microsoft soon rolled it into Microsoft Live Search Cashback. Microsoft Live Search was essentially later renamed and rebranded to Bing – and thus it was renamed to Bing Cashback.
Finally, Microsoft put forth a large amount of marketing efforts, not only to Bing itself, but also to the Bing Cashback program… at least for the initial stages of its life.
In the end….
There are certainly mixed emotions from the consumers who used Bing CB the most, the bargain hunters. Just read a few of the over 150 replies (and counting) in this related FatWallet thread, and you’ll see. A senior FatWallet member notes “If Bing CB goes away, then I’m switching to Google search,” another another FW member adds “another half-baked microsoft idea goes into the trash can…”
At the end of the day I’m left with a negative feeling about Microsoft’s mentality — which seems to be: If it doesn’t work, fix it just quit. I know it isn’t that simple, but it does leave that horrible taste… And I’m not the only one feeling it.