Bing and Waggener Edstrom’s Long Road Ahead

Waggener Edstrom Wolrdwide PR

Last June we did a story about Microsoft’s super duper search engine Bing and PR dynamo Waggener Edstrom’s job in telling the world about it. For WE, telling of fabled market share, user value, and “natural language” mysteries probably seemed like a great opportunity at the time, but almost a year later maybe reality is sinking in? Bing, as previously reported, may be WE’s toughest sell ever.

The search engine wars all of use “search gurus” covered for so many months back when, were supposed to culminate in either Powerset (sold to MS) or hakia (artificial intelligence), or even Search Wikia,  revolutionizing the ways and results humanoids experienced when searching stuff on the web. But, at the end of ten million words speculating about “Google killers” and the like, the technology world (and the user) are left right where we were from the start – searching Google for relevance. Big surprise huh?

Market Proclamations From on High

TechCrunch proclaiming Bing’s “accelerating” market share, TV commercials skillfully employed by Waggener Edstrom’s PR gurus, the legends of rocket science from Powerset founder Barney Pell, nothing can alter the sad reality that these people will likely never supplant Google as the premier search entity on the Internet. Argue if you will, but taking sides against Google now, is like sitting in a lifeboat arguing the Titanic is not sinking. Bing at best, just snatched some Yahoo! searches – that’s it.

If numbers are your thing, and they are the “things” of investment banks, after over $200 million (just Powerset buy and PR from WE) in investment Microsoft has managed to assault Google (at least from November to December of 2009) to the tune of three tenths of one percent of market share. Overall Bing has gained about what Yahoo! has lost since the world heard Waggener Edstrom’s “bing boing heard round the world.” Sorry guys, but believe it or not we were pulling for your campaign to do something – anything.

Bing Did Not Ask Danny Sullivan Did They?

SearchEngineLand, run by maybe the Web’s foremost expert on all thing search, Danny Sullivan, lays out prospective about as clean and real as it gets. So, what happened to the search engine of the future? Maybe the whole batch were just like other Web 2.0 startups designed to sell rather than produce? Smoke and mirrors can be appealing, particularly for the progressive thinker, God don’t I know, I was at the leading edge of “buying” what the rocket scientists of Web 2.0 search were selling – something extraordinary. Pell, Berkan, Calcanis, Wales, a batch of visionaries who somehow have now raced into obscurity.

At the end of every day PR firms basically reflect the people, products, and services they are engaged to reveal. Waggener Edstom is one of the world’s best at it too. The problem in the case of Bing, or any PR firm’s clients, is that no media outreach, no amount of money (well, unless properly used) can make a sick dog race. PC Magazine (a TechCrunch collaborator in case you did not know) to even 1000 “virtual press kits” cranked out by WE and MS cannot turn that trick.

Replacing the Wheel With the Wheel

The intuitive reader will ask now, “So what has been the problem?” Well, it boils down to basically three variables believe it or not. First, after all the Victoria’s Secret models parading about with Bing on their lips, millions in media outreach and TV commericials, social media campaigns and the like – people go to Bing and are not convinced. Secondly, whatever Waggener Edstrom can summon by way of advice, expetise, cutting edge advice, gathered from whatever corner of the world, Microsoft probably does not listen.

Finally, this “listening” aspect is a shortcoming of every-single-solitary innovative business venture ever launched – a story for another PR article, but basically they either listen to too many or the wrong experts on their developments. This is the rub as any Harvard expert on disruptive innovation can tell you.

I will close for now, all I really wanted to point out is how fantastic PR can take a contract and have their hands tied, only to be blamed in the end for a bad ROI. I feel for Waggener Edstrom to be honest.

Of all the PR firms we have talked about, theirs is by far the most progressive and the ones who listen the best. The really sad part of this search epic is it was and is actually theoretically possible to beat anyone at their own game – even Google. It just aint going to happen in Bing’s lifetime – not at the current rate.

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