Bing Cashback

By dbaodbao (1261536516|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

As we are all learning in BIT330, search engines aren't only useful for finding out how many ounces are in a quart, or what the weather is outside. There are a millions of different ways that search engines can make your life easier, and almost as many different search engines to choose from. Bing's Cashback Program gives search engines yet another use - one that I certainly haven't seen before - the ability to make you money.

How it works

From what I understand, Bing collects and lists products for sale on its cashback shopping home page. In addition the normal description and price, Bing also lists the amount of cashback for each purchase. You then follow the links to purchase whatever you're looking for, and you get the cashback percentage * the price of your item. Bing will then give you that money back through paypal or a bank account.

Where does the money come from?

This sounds like a great idea - Bing helps me find good prices on the things that I want and then gives me more money back (so I can find more things that I have no need for but feel compelled to buy…it's a vicious cycle.) Even though the cashback percentages are usually not substantial (15%-2%), it really starts to add up if you are a frequent buyer or are buying expensive things. Companies pay to have their listings made available on Bing, and part of that money goes back to you. One potential drawback that could result from this is the lack of discrimination of quality of companies. Even right on the homepage, companies looking to participate in the program can immediately find out how to go about doing so.

Drawbacks

You have to buy from websites that are listed on Bing - which is fairly extensive, although obviously not comprehensive of everything available on the web. For example, in looking for shoes, neither Zappos nor Shoes.com were listed and they both carry a lot of variety in shoes. Another slightly annoying thing is that even if you know a retailer participates in the cashback program, you have to access it through Bing first - you can't just go directly to the website. Bing also warns you against:

  • Waiting hours to complete a purchase
  • Closing your browser window
  • Shopping with InPrivate Browsing enabled in Internet Explorer 8
  • Navigating away from the store's site after you start the purchase process.

If you do any of these things, we might lose track of you and the store might think you came from someplace other than Bing. If that happens, it will be hard for us to prove that you made your purchase through Bing.

Search Engine Market

Latest numbers indicate that Bing's global market share has dipped slightly from August to September. Cashback could potentially help draw new users into using Bing for shopping, only to discover the multitude of other features Bing has to offer. Since you need to have a Bing account in order to get your money, this will also increase the size of the Bing community.

Overall, I think Bing did a great job of providing innovation in the search engine market to bring together user needs and firm capabilities in a way that is profitable for everyone (except if you're not listed, and that's easy enough to solve.) While I may not use Bing exclusively to shop (sometimes I still prefer checking out individual websites), I will certainly consider this when making my next purchase.

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