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MSN Luring Searchers With Contest

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-02-15

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A variety of prizes and charitable donations awaits the winners of the MSN Search and Win contest over the three-month period of the promotion.

Shortly after reports that search rival Yahoo had launched some trial balloons about offering incentives for using its search, Microsoft entered the goodies-for-search arena with a $1 million promotion for MSN Search.

Microsoft said in a statement its MSN Search and Win contest will demonstrate the benefits of MSN Search, by helping users find what they are looking for quickly.

When users do any web searches using MSN, it matches the query against a list of 1,200 pre-selected keywords. If the query contains one of those keywords, a link surrounded by a green-bordered box at the top of the search results appears.

Users can then click that link to see if they have instantly won the prize associated with that keyword. In March and April, Microsoft will expand the keyword list for the promotion.

Prizes range from subscriptions to magazines and services like Netflix to a 42-inch plasma HDTV. Microsoft has placed some prizes of a charitable nature in the contest, so a winning query could be a cash donation Microsoft pays to the charity of their choice.

Microsoft has made a compelling move with this promotion. Critics will sneer that the company is just trying to buy people's search traffic, a move that Bill Gates has publicly suggested in 2005. It is a non-subtle way to encourage traffic for the next three months.

For Microsoft, $1 million doesn't present a large cash investment. The contest could prove viral in nature, as users tell others about the promotion and increase its marketing value beyond the original seeding.

The real test comes after the contest ends; if MSN Search has gains during the period, they will have to keep those searchers to make the incentive-for-search deal payoff in the long-term.


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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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