Microsoft recently announced the hiring of Mark Penn, former adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton and author of one of my favorite books in recent memory, Microtrends to increase market share for Bing. Penn’s background is in Public Relations, which indicates that Microsoft is truly delusional about their capabilities and potential in search. In short, they think that Bing is such a competitive product that a slight change in public sentiment will ferret market share from Google. I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, but Google is obviously superior to Bing.
A recent American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey released revealed that Bing trailed Google in customer satisfaction by a minuscule amount (81 points versus 82 points). This lead some to believe that Bing and Google were qualitatively equal (including ACSI in their remarks), but they’re not and here’s why: the demographic make-up of Google users versus Bing users.
Below is a snapshot of Google’s age breakout. You can see that they trend slightly above normal in the 18-24, 25-34 and 35-44 year old demographics.
Now take a look at Bing’s age demographics. You can see that Bing is under-represented in 18-34 year olds and over-represented 45-65+.
Clearly a representative sample of Google and Bing’s users are two very different populations. My assumption about a younger search user would be that they have more advanced search needs due to academic or job requirements – meaning the younger users would be more critical if a search engine didn’t return relevant results to them. That younger users favor Google is quite telling.
It perplexed me how Bing was rated so highly in customer satisfaction on the (ACSI) when their search engine was so substandard, especially given the social signals they are privy to by linking to my Facebook and Twitter. And it probably doesn’t bode well for Mark Penn’s task. Penn has to convince younger users to adopt something their parents and grandparents love. He has every public relations tool and (presumably) a Microsoft-sized budget to do so.
Unfortunately, the one tool that he can’t leverage in his favor is Bing itself.