The pros and cons of Microsoft’s cash back searches are well documented on far better blogs than contentcontent (just).
But this new search strategy could be an example of how Microsoft are trying to convince advertisers that paid search ads (ie Google’s) aren’t the be all and end all of search.
As well as the cash back search, it’s also worth watching Microsoft’s efforts in tracking and ‘engagement mapping’ tools which they’re supposed to be rolling out.
These tools (which MS bought as part of the aQuantive / Avenue A Razorfish purchase) claim to give online retailers a better picture of what ads or web content a user saw before they purchased a product on their site. The value being that not all purchases are made via paid search ads – display ads and other web content could inspire that purchasing decision.
Of course Doubleclick has being doing this kind of thing for years (which Google owns). It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft’s product offer will improve on Doubleclick’s offer.