Exactly one year ago, Microsoft discontinued their product search incentive Bing Cashback. Over the last 9 months or so they’ve been testing the waters with a new way to entice shoppers: Bing Rewards! When I first looked at Bing Rewards back in September, I didn’t bother with a write-up as it required you to install the Bing Toolbar. Sorry, I’m not a fan of adding a tracking device to my browser. Anyway, recently I got an email from Microsoft explaining that they’ve made some changes to the service and it no longer requires their Live Toolbar. Ok fine, let’s take a look. As of this writing, the Bing Rewards is still in “Preview” status, which basically is another word for “Beta” or “Testing”. The preview is scheduled to end by December 31st, 2011 so some of the things we talk about today may change so just keep that in mind.
What are Bing Rewards?
Bing Rewards works similar to the way Air Miles work with credit cards. Earn enough of them, and you get some free stuff in return. The big problem right now is that there aren’t very many ways to earn enough reward points (aka credits) to qualify for anything. According to Bing, in order to earn credits:
“You can take advantage of offers to earn credits. Offers may include earning credits for conducting searches on Bing, or trying out new Bing features. To view your current offers, click on your Rewards credit counter.”
What can I do with Bing Rewards?
Sometimes you’ll get a small bonus of 3 points for performing a specific Bing search, and the rest of the time you just earn points for using Bing. But, if you look at your current offers, they usually don’t amount to more than 15 credits per day.
10-15 credits per day? Just for using Bing? Sounds good right? Especially considering that you start out with 250 just for signing up. Well kinda… One of the lowest-costing useful rewards, a $10 Amazon.com gift card, goes for 1,081 credits.
So let’s break that down. Let’s say you earn 10 credits per day every single day, which would be equivalent to 50 searches on Bing per day. In that scenario, it would take about 3.5 months or 5,400 searches, to qualify for that reward. Hmm, I guess there could be worse ways to earn free stuff…
Charitable donations made on your behalf are also available at the rate of $1 per 100 credits. This helps us break down the value of credits then ie: $0.01 each. Though sometimes Bing may offer exclusive offers, such as 3 Months of Hulu Plus for 694 credits. Just something to keep in mind.
Why is Bing rewarding me for using them to search?
Two reasons. The first, Search IE: Advertising is big big cash for Google and Microsoft and if Bing want’s to have any chance of grabbing more market share from Google, they need to do something more than just return search results. Ah – Bing Rewards! Secondly, Bing will be using the data collected from Rewards users to improve their services, track what you do/buy/shop etc… This is also very valuable for huge multi-national corporations who can spin up a new business in a matter of days a few billion dollars later.
Bing Rewards can score you some $10 gift cards and a few other cheap nick-nacks, though it doesn’t exactly come free. You have to perform 50 Bing searches a day to make it worthwhile, and Microsoft knows that you’ll likely have to give up Google searching to accomplish such a feat which is of course the goal here. From what I’ve seen, Bing search results are still inferior –and I can’t see everyone jumping ship from Google just to earn some cheap gift cards for becoming Bing search maniacs. Honestly, would you accept mere pennies per day to give up your Google searches? My analysis of the program (as it stands today in “preview”) is the Bing rewards program will go down in flames just like its predecessors. I’ll give it 6 months to live before someone at Microsoft kills it. That being said, if you’re an avid BING user, I recommend you sign up quickly and earn $20 of free stuff over the next few months before Ballmer sticks a fork in this thing.