One of the early differentiating features of Bing, Microsoft’s revamped search engine, was the Cashback function, whereby purchasers received some cash back for every qualifying purchase made. The program is due to expire on July 30, 2010, although points earned via the program can be cashed in for another year. Why has Microsoft decided to stop the program? Here’s what they had to say on the Bing Community blog.
“Why are we doing this? When we originally began to offer the cashback feature, it was designed to help advertisers reach you with compelling offers, and to provide a new type of shopping experience that would change user behavior and attract a bunch of new users to Bing.
In lots of ways, this was a great feature a�� we had over a thousand merchant partners delivering great offers to customers and seeing great ROI on their campaigns, and we were taking some of the advertising revenue and giving it back to customers. But after a couple of years of trying, we did not see the broad adoption that we had hoped for.”
It seems like it should have been a win-win for everyone involved — the buyer gets money back, the rebate comes out of Microsoft’s advertiser revenue, stores were attracting more customers, and Microsoft gets more searchers who wind up purchasing online. But old habits die hard, and without immediate positive reinforcement, searchers are fickle and prone to fall back on tried and true methods of finding what they are looking for online. In fact, there may just have been too much that was new about the Microsoft search engine at one time to allow the focus on a “rewards” program and the concentrated effort that is needed to wean people away from their usual mode of operation. Whatever the cause for a lack of the “broad adoption that [Microsoft] … had hoped for,” if you did participate and still have points waiting to be awarded, make sure you redeem them before the next year passes. Details can be found here. RIP Cashback.