In the last few months, Microsoft Bing has quietly launched a new retail marketplace to compete against Google.
Early adopters. Only a couple hundred US-based online sellers have been part of the early launch. There is no word yet on when the new marketplace will be rolled out to all sellers.
Start Shopping vs. Buy Direct. Bing currently has a feature called Start Shopping where people can find products, click, and be directed to a retailer’s website where they can complete their purchase. The new marketplace is called Buy Direct and lets people click on products and complete the purchase within Bing’s platform.
A Bing spokesperson said “Buy Direct is a part of Microsoft Start Shopping. This is a new product experience that we recently launched with limited sellers to our customers in the U.S. We’ll continue to listen to feedback as we explore new ways to serve our customers.” They add, “Sellers on Buy Direct are not sourced through Microsoft Advertising / Shopping Campaigns.”
Like Google Shopping. Sellers set up their storefronts and Bing handles the payments. Bing will also allow sellers to promote their products through advertising. They’ll use LinkedIn’s audience data (which Microsoft owns), as well as an additional tool to help advertisers manage ad prices.
What’s the difference. A source told Business Insider that “Bing claims it is better than Google Shopping at helping people discover products they might be interested in, because Bing lets people set their shopping preferences to show relevant products. For example, someone can choose to see fitness products or electronics. Google Shopping ranks products with its algorithm that uses factors like what terms people search for and what they’ve looked at in the past.”
Bing reaches a different marketplace and demographic than Google, which may or may not work to their advantage. However, Bing only takes about 25% of the total search volume, whereas Google takes 60%, according to Comscore.
Big plans ahead. Last week we reported that Microsoft’s acquisition of tech platform Xandr. There is no word yet on if they have plans to acquire additional companies, or if the acquisition and release of this new feature are related.
Why we care. Despite trailing behind Google in almost every metric, Bing continues to push forward. It used to be a cheaper alternative to Google, given its lower market share and smaller audience sizes, but I wonder if ad costs will start to rise as more businesses compete for ad space given their new features and audience targeting options.