It all started with Live Search Club, the somewhat maligned program to reward users for playing games using Live Search (and somewhat skewing search share counts, causing a bit of a scramble by Compete.com and others). Then last May Live Search introduced “cashback”, again rewarding users for using Live Search, this time in the form of rebates for products bought online.
Now, starting today and running through April 15, 2009, it’s Live Search Perks. By signing up and downloading a toolbar counter, users will be rewarded with “tickets” that can be redeemed for prizes at the end of the promotion, next April. Yes it’s US only, and yes you need to stay with the program for the entire period in order to redeem your tickets.
I talked with Frederick Savoye, a Senior Director at Live Search, about Search Perks and the broader search strategy. As part of “innovating in the business model”, Search Perks, built on the same platform that runs Live Search Club, has shown in tests to increase use of search threefold. “It really helps change people’s behavior”, said Savoy.
The toolbar counter only counts searches, and which search engine you are using, and does not collect any other information about your search habits, Savoy said. Searches conducted from Live Search or from MSN are eligible, although searches from Search and Give, Live Search Club, or MSN Video are not.
Users are awarded 500 “tickets” for signing up, and are awarded one ticket for each search conducted per day, up to a maximum of 25. While the fine print does say that “During the promotion there may be opportunities to receive additional tickets”, a quick calculation puts the maximum tickets available at about 5200, barely enough for a “big prize”, like an Xbox controller. Up to 250,000 participants will be allowed into the program, who must sign up before Dec 31, 2008.
Of course Live Search is going to have to do far more than this to make any headway against Google, and our prediction is that this is going to be seen as another desperate move in a search share war that many consider to be well over. But hey free stuff is free stuff.