I posted a couple of weeks ago how you can earn cash from searching the web and it seems like Microsoft wants to head down in this direction too. They’re rolling out a new feature called Live Search Cashback which allows you to earn cashback from items you purchase after searching for them through Live Search. It seems to be only available to U.S. users at the time of going live, but it might actually make it to the rest of the world seeing Microsoft has a global presence. This was originally hinted at by Bill Gates in 2005 and made possible through the acquisition of Jellyfish.com. And now they are ready to take it to market.
Ok, here’s what I think is the major flaw in this plan. Microsoft is trying to attract more traffic to it’s search engine, but this scheme will only attract people with purchasing intent who are out to try and get a bargain. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but this is really only a small portion of search engine traffic. Also, while some retailers are interested in bargain hunters, there are not a segment you can build a relationship with, so it’s a very short sighted strategy. Microsoft probably thinks that they can “earn someone’s loyalty” by rewarding them for purchase behaviour, but at the end of the day relevance is still King, so I’m not swayed. Advertisers though, may see this as an interesting proposition, especially as it’s tied to a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) model.
Personally, if you want to earn something while searching, I would still recommend MySearchFunds. I’ve made almost £15 in a few days without changing my bahaviour, and I haven’t actually purchased anything online. I personally feel Microsoft may get some traction with this (similar to what we saw with the Live Search Club), but I don’t think it has long term potential. However, as always, time will tell!