Bing sows seeds with Farmville ad, reaps 400,000 fans in one day

FarmVille_logo_thumb Bing (Update) Sorry to report that we got a bit fooled by someone retweeting this info – it did happen, but a year ago.  Our mistake!

Adweek is reporting that a single advertisement placed on Farmville netted the upstart search engine over 400,000 new Facebook followers in one day, more than tripling its previous fan count.  AllFacebook.com had some details:

The fan page, which grew by five times in size from around 100,000 users to now above 500,000 users, was part of a promotion by Bing, where Farmville users could gain virtual currency by becoming a fan of the Bing Facebook page. The ad was a clever integration, and users could join the Bing page without interrupting their game.

The ad, created by digital agency Deep Focus and “brand engagement network” Social Vibe , offered Farmville players (there are some 82 million active Farmville “farms”) an enticing incentive to friend them on Facebook – Farmville cash.  In addition to the ad, Microsoft has been using Facebook updates to attract Farmville players:

Today it sent out an update reading, “Any FarmVille fans out there? Try using Bing to get the most out of your crops and animals.” It links to a Bing search result for “FarmVille animals.” The update drew 585 comments in four hours and 20,000 click-throughs.

Obviously buoyed by the success of the ad, Microsoft and Bing plan more engagement with the Farmville folks, according to AdWeek:

Microsoft has plans to post other content related to FarmVille users, who tend to skew female and older, such as links to Bing’s travel features and  (sic) Cashback rebate program.

“The value exchange added a huge amount of effectiveness to this effort”, said Liz Tassey Gerber, group marketing manager for social media at Bing. “It opens the door to that value exchange from being about FarmVille Cash to being about search and decision-making.”