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Microsoft Challenges Brand Loyalty

Alex Christie

21 April 2009

Microsoft claims that their search capability has improved significantly over the past few years. The only problem is that its hard for internet users to notice or even appreciate as their brand loyalty belongs to Google.

Microsoft has therefore announced a search strategy overhaul and called it “Kiev”. This will be rolled out over the next few months. Exactly why they have chosen the Ukraine city name for the project remains a mystery as well as exactly what features is contained in “Kiev”.

Microsoft recently conducted a study which they called “blind taste tests” where they take their own search results and simply add the Google logo to it. Users would almost always rate the Microsoft “test” data higher than what they would “normal” Google search results.

This test proved that users are blindly loyal to the Google brand. Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft's online audience business group has said “Part of the reason why users have a hard time telling the difference in the quality of search results from Microsoft's search technology today is that the company has improved the quality of its search engine over the past year or two”

He also acknowledged that they had a long way to go to shift user attention to the Live search brand. Live Search currently constitutes 5% of the search market compared to the 81% held by Google."I think the branding [concept] is important and has been one of their biggest problems, plus they've never really advertised it [search], said Matt Rosoff, a lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft, in an interview with InternetNews.com. 

They are however rumored to be allocating $100 million to the Kiev project ad campaign. There is of course no guarantee that throwing cash on a promotional campaign will deliver instant results or even any success at all. It is reported that they spent $300 million promoting Vista and its success has been questionable to say the least. It is extremely difficult to place a price on a consumers brand loyalty and make them shift from what they are accustomed to. So we will have to wait and see exactly what “Kiev” is all about and whether it can effectively lure us away from Google.

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