Please Keep Searching: What Microsoft Is Missing

October 4, 2008

Microsoft is trying yet another approach to get you to use Live Search.  Previously they have tried everything under the sun, including giving miles for flights such as Midwest Airlines.  Sadly the games there are nothing to write home about and it isn’t surprising that Microsoft went back to the drawing board.

This the aptly named SearchPerks is set up to give away tickets that you can the trade in for stuff (the perks).  Sounds alright in concept, but it is poorly structured.  Right off the get go you notice to win anything worthwhile takes forever (though they say during the promotion they will give away extra).  Here is a simple breakdown from Search Engine Land:

  • 105 tickets (4 days worth of searches) = 1 ringtone
  • 250 tickets (10 days worth of searches) = 100 frequent flyer miles
  • 5,500 tickets (7 months worth of searches) = xBox wireless controller

The length of time is determined because you can only get 25 tickets a day.  Oh, and the promotion only runs until April sometime.

I wonder if they are taking the wrong approach to this altogether.  I really liked Yahoo’s “Search For A Cure” program.  The money is going to breast cancer research.  I also noticed that on a survey at Banana Republic the reward for filling out the survey was not a percent off or dollar off perk.  Rather it was some amount would get donated to a charity of your choice -from a list of 5 or so.

The fundamental question here for me is what are you really trying to do with these programs and who are you targeting?  It seems like with a program that rewards the individual user that when the perks end they will just stop using it.  When I consider the promotions that donate the money I think that the user gets to feel good about doing it.

Why is this such a big deal?  Easy, because when the promotion ends and the user was getting the perks they now have no reason to continue to use the service.  But if the perk goes to a charity, the user was not getting anything, but rather giving something, when using the service.  When the perk ends they are no longer ‘giving’ anything but also there is nothing that will make the user feel like something is being taken away from them – as is the case in a perk that rewards the user.

Another important point, in my view, is that the perk for charity is more likely to be picked up on a larger news site because the company is giving to a good cause rather than greedy users (from a public perception standpoint).  I think that promotions that give stuff away on the web generate a big surge of people trying to play the system and then just fall off.  No loyalty.  No long term PR to point to for the company.  Compare this to a news story about how the company is “doing their part” to help the world.  The company can use the promotion as a platform to point out that they helped while also promoting whatever service they were trying to get you to use.

So is this going to work this time?  I don’t think so because there is no long term perk for the user and I don’t see any reason to switch other than to “watch out for number one” and the stop after the promotion ends.  That is the thought from Thee Cake Scraps.

Types of Swoopo Auctions

October 3, 2008

From my previous post on Swoopo I generated a small bit of confusion because Swoopo has several types of auctions.  Here they are directly from the Swoopo site (though I rearranged them a bit for my comments):

Fixed Price Auction
If you win a Fixed Price Auction, you only pay the price indicated in the heading of the auction (plus delivery costs), regardless of the level the bidding reaches.

100% off
Where an auction is marked “100% off”, the winning bidder does not have to pay the final price. That’s right: the price is zero! You just need to pay the delivery charges.

These are basically the same thing and makes this site seem a bit more sleazy.  Here’s why.  With a fixed price auction or a 100% off auction you don’t pay the value of the auction, just the fixed price or nothing, respectively.  That seems straight forward until you think about it.  If they already know what they are selling it for (or that they are giving it away free) the users are basically just giving them money.  They are literally proclaiming “Here is something free, what will you pay me for it.”  Can you really even call that an auction if the bidders are not actually impacting the price?

Penny Auction
In a penny auction, the price rises by just one cent with each bid placed (whereas in a normal auction, it rises by 15 cents).

Well this is nice of them.  In case you were able to hold off yourself from bidding when the price went up 15 cents with each bid they have auctions where it only goes up a single penny.  Thus, you look at the price and want to jump right in not realizing just how much money Swoopo is going to take you and other fools like you for.

NailBiter Auction
During a NailBiter Auction, BidButlers aren’t allowed. Users may only place single bids by manually clicking or calling. Don’t walk away or you miss the next incredible deal!

This would be interesting except that the time goes up with each bid (see below).  So instead of a “NailBiter” you have a sit around all freaking day bidding and waiting for the thing to end.  Good times I’m sure.  Too bad I’ll miss it.

Open Auction
Anyone can bid on an open auction, even if they have already reached their eight auction limit. Open auctions do not count towards your auction limit. See ‘How many auctions can I win a month?’ for more information.

Wait, I can only win so many auctions in a given time period.  Doesn’t this sound a lot like what a casino can do if they think you have a gambling problem?

20-Second Auction
All auctions start as 20-second auctions. The countdown increases by a maximum of 20 seconds each time that a bid is placed.

15-Second Auction
You guessed it – with these the countdown increases by a maximum of 15 seconds with each bid placed.

10-Second Auction
You guessed it – with these the countdown increases by a maximum of 10 seconds with each bid placed.

Wow.  What variety.  It is like the Jelly Belly of auction sites.  Really guys, do we need a different line for each you guessed it – X second auction type.

I hope that clears things up a bit for people.  In my original post I did have my math with the winner having to pay for the final price of the auction.  While this isn’t always the case, it often times is.  I’m not going to waste my time looking around for exact examples, but if you want to Swoopo does feature a list of completed auctions.  Please remember what Thomas Tusser said: “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

Pure Profit: A Look at Swoop

September 25, 2008

Pure Profit: A Look at Swoop post has been moved HERE due to high traffic.

(clicking either link will get you there)

Thanks for reading The Cake Scraps