In a promotion "limited" to the first million people who sign up, Microsoft has lifted the curtains off of SearchPerks. In a nutshell, use Microsoft's Live Search tool for up to 25 Web searches a day, and you'll earn tickets that are redeemable for prizes like music downloads, clothing, and airline miles. The promotion ends mid-April.
Rewarding consumers to search is one way Microsoft hopes it can increase search traffic -- and thereby attract your ad dollars. Says a Fortune article: During the SearchPerks testing phase, Microsoft found people were three times more likely to use Live Search when they were offered redeemable points than when they werenï¿¼t.
"Over the long term these program have changed people's behaviors," Live Search senior director Frederick Savoye told CNET.
Of note, a valid Windows Live ID is required to participate, and you have to use Internet Explorer, version 6 or higher, on a Windows PC. Searches are tracked by means of the Perk Counter, a downloadable program that seems to do more than just track your searches for tallying purposes. According to the SearchPerks FAQ: "The Perk Counter is a piece of software that counts the number of Web searches you do each day on different search engines; the types of searches you complete, such as for news, images or shopping, etc.; and the number of online ads you click on. It also sends which search toolbars, if any, are installed on the computer."
SearchEngineLand has a tally of its own, with a rundown of the incentive-based search programs Microsoft has run or is still running. It also mentions that a few years back Google had tested a frequent searcher program, but it petered out quickly. Not that that seems to have hurt. According to Comstor, Google owned 63% of the search market for August. Microsoft? 8.3%.
A t-shirt for your searches. Is that really going to help Microsoft close the gap?