Scroogled dents Google's reputation, claims Microsoft

One of several ways Microsoft measures results of its attack campaign

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Others were unconvinced. "Three and a half million visitors is impressive, but not enough to register," said Mike Zammuto, president of Reputation Changer, an online reputation management firm. Reputation Changer has not seen any change in Google's rating post-Scroogled.

"Google has a fantastic brand -- there are only a small number of companies that have [brands that strong], Apple and Google are two -- so it's much harder for someone like Microsoft to put a dent in it," said Zammuto.

With an even broader campaign or one that lasted longer, Microsoft may be able to change perceptions, Zammuto said, "But this hasn't made any difference. Google's brand is too solid."

Microsoft's Weitz owned up to other measuring sticks he's using to evaluate Scroogled, ranging from social media and blog mentions to the number of petition signees.

The petition has accumulated 115,000 signatures, putting the response rate -- the percentage of the 3.5 million Scroogled.com visitors who have signed -- around 3.3%.

"That's very high for an email or online campaign," Weitz asserted. "And it's higher than a traditional marketing campaign."

He's right about email. According to a 2012 survey by the Direct Marketing Association (DHA), email campaigns average a response rate of just 0.12%.

But there are better bottom-line metrics than response rate or brand reputation that could be used to gauge Scroogled's efficacy.

"I feel in some ways I'm arguing counter to our first discussion, when I talked about the advocacy approach," said LaMotte. "But the goal here is the same for any advertising campaign. In a political campaign, the final result is that the candidate gets elected. Here, the bottom line is revenue, and their goal is conversion [from Gmail to Outlook.com]."

On that level, Scroogled hasn't shown much of anything, or better put, publicly-available metrics haven't shown a change.

comScore's search statistics -- the focus of the first Scroogled last November -- showed that Google increased its share by three-tenths of a percentage point to 67% in January, recouping an identical decline in December. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Bing grew its share by two-tenths of a point in January, ending that month with 16.5%, atop a one-tenth of a point increase in December.

Put in plainer words, 2012's Scroogled failed to move the needle on Google's search share. And while it may have played a part in the two-month boost to Bing, Microsoft's gains came at the expense of Yahoo, Ask.com and AOL, not Google.

There are no similar numbers available for possible share changes in Gmail, Outlook.com and other email services since Scroogled's latest debuted last month.

The ultimate metric, however, may be whether Microsoft continues the campaign. On that note, Weitz was definitive. "We'll keep doing this as long as Google keeps 'scroogling,'" he said.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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