|Wed June 16 2010 21:53:39|
Could Amazon Replace Microsoft's Bing Cashback?
By: Ina Steiner
Citing an anonymous source, Business Insider says Amazon.com and Microsoft are in talks over a deal that could see Amazon taking over the Bing search portal's shopping engine. Contacted this afternoon, a Microsoft spokesperson told me, "We do not comment on rumors or speculation."
As I reported two weeks ago, Microsoft announced plans to close the Bing Cashback program, which rewards consumers for shopping on Bing. Business Insider said Amazon felt that news made it the right time to approach Microsoft with a pitch that it should "basically outsource the shopping tab on Bing to Amazon."
The move could make sense in that Google has a search platform and a strong relationship with retailers, while Microsoft has a search platform but does not have the same kind of retailer relationship or expertise - Amazon.com's strong suit.
Merchant products show up on Google search results, and in Google Shopping (Product Search) results. Likewise, products can show up on Bing search results, and in Bing Shopping results. Today, merchants send their product feeds to Google for exposure on Google Shopping, and Google is able to create optional paid services and features (product extensions, a beta CPA program, displaying inventory levels at local retailers,...).
Using its expertise, Amazon could do the same for Microsoft Bing, opening up new revenue streams for Bing, while leveraging the relationship to drive adoption of its own Amazon payment service. Seen that way, it's boggling to imagine all the possible upsides to Microsoft and Amazon of such a partnership.
Microsoft Bing competes squarely with Google in search. And Google competes with Amazon in product search. As the proverb goes, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Google wields enormous power in ecommerce, and even retailers are growing concerned. The topic came up at last week's Internet Retailer conference during the Question and Answer segment of a Google's VP's keynote address.
Stephanie Tilenius, formerly of eBay, was asked whether Google would allow transactions to take place directly on Google. She said she would ask that question back to the audience for their feedback, and said Google did not have any plans to do that right now.
"Right now we're not a retailer or competing with our,... with many of you."
The answer was not reassuring to some of the retailers I spoke with after the keynote, who pointed out the qualifying words, "right now."
Retailers might welcome a stronger competitor to Google, but they might also fear Amazon.com would yield even more power than it does already.
In the meantime, we'll just have to wait to see if there's any substance to today's rumor.