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Bing - Improving international brand equity

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market study
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Fending off competition from heavyweights, Bing has held on to its rank as the fourth biggest local search engine operator globally, with strong market penetration across 40 countries. Launched in 2009, this search engine is a wholly owned brand of Microsoft. In September 2009, Microsoft signed partnership agreement with Yahoo to provide end-to-end support for its flagship brand "Yahoo! Search" with majority of customers and partners to transit by 2012. The parent corporation online service division (Bing & MSN etc) witnessed higher net losses over the past 18 months attributed to higher traffic acquisition expenses slightly offset by improved search advertising portfolio in the United Kingdom and core market space, i.e., United States.

The global online advertising market is worth US$72 billion, with year-on-year growth of 14% in 2010-2011. Online paid search is the largest digital advertising market accounting for 49% of total in 2011. The paid search market is stipulated to reach US$46.7 billion over the next 2-3 years (2013). Display advertising overtook paid search as the fastest growing online advertising segment in 2011. In July 2011, Google dominated the global search market with share of 85% followed by Yahoo at 6.5%. Bing faces steep competitive pressure from Baidu (Chinese origin search engine operator) controlling 3.7% of global market share (July 2011).


Microsoft plans to collaborate with Twitter on an annual contract worth US$30 million in July 2011. The parent corporation has aggressively invested in marketing and promotional campaigns worth US$100 million since inception to enhance the brand positioning of Bing in the US market space. The company has 88% revenue sharing partnership with Yahoo. On the other hand, it integrated Facebook to enhance regional and local penetration in May 2011. In the UK segment, Google has strong habit-centric hold, i.e., majority of B2B and B2C consumer standalone preference is inclined towards search via Google. Bing is enhancing user search experience by focusing on valuable outcomes and not just search results to enhance competitive advantage.

Microsoft's online search revenue increased in the United Kingdom and United States with strong decline in operating and net margins for Bing attributed to aggressive search advertising distribution sharing model in domestic market-space. Further, the company has been spending on Bing technology development to surpass Google over the past 15 months along with acquiring traffic share to enhance ad spend. It is vital to understand the business and regional strategies implemented by Microsoft to enhance Bing market positioning and brand equity worldwide (dominated by Google with approximately 85% market share) on long-term basis. Going further, can Bing as a standalone (majority of still market share is via partnership with Yahoo) dominate global search market space for a decade and emerge as a visionary search engine brand in 2020?

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