SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft is trying to skewer Google as a lousy holiday shopping guide in its latest attempt to divert more traffic to its Bing search engine.
The attack started Wednesday with a marketing campaign focused on a recent change in the way Google operates the part of its search engine devoted to shopping results. The revisions require merchants to pay Google to have their products listed in the shopping section.
In its new ads, Microsoft Corp. contends the new approach betrays Google Inc.’s commitment to provide the most trustworthy results on the Web, even if it means foregoing revenue. To punctuate its point, Microsoft is warning consumers that they risk getting “scroogled” if they rely on Google’s shopping search service.
The message will be highlighted in TV commercials scheduled to run on NBC and CNN and ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. The blitz also will appear on billboards and online, anchored by a new website, Scroogled.com.
Google’s search engine is dominant on the Internet, and Bing runs a distant second. Google doesn’t require websites to pay to be listed in its main database, the index that provides results for requests entered into its all-purpose search box. But that’s not the case for someone who clicks on a tab to enter Google’s shopping-only section, which is designed to compare prices and offer other insights such as identifying sites that offer free shipping. Searches there are confined to paying merchants. Google defends the fee-based approach as a way to encourage merchants to provide more comprehensive and accurate information about what they’re selling.