There is truth to Bing's advertising attacks on Google, and hopefully change will follow.
In a bold move, Bing launched a Scroogled campaign in November, alleging that Google Shopping results are just ads rather than relevant search results. This appears to be a late swing back at the uppercut Google landed last year when the company released proof that Bing was copying search results. But Bing's latest attack seems to be on behalf of the consumer, rather than simply a competitive spat.
The evidence in Bing's case against Google includes an SEC filing from 2004(the year Google went public), and an SEC disclosure in 2012. The documents show two dramatically different views on the relationship between relevant search results and advertisements, as well as the value of both to the consumer.
The evolution "from Google to Scroogle" begins with Google's first SEC filing in 2004, in which the company planted a flag in the ground regarding ads appearing within search results, saying "Our search results will be objective and we will not accept payment for inclusion or ranking in them."
But eight years later, Google has changed its tune. This year Google announced that shopping results will be paid for, and merchants who don't participate in the payment program will be excluded. Google justifies this position in the 2012 SEC Disclosure, saying "After all, ads are just more answers to users' queries."
This last statement from Google was the one that stuck in my head. Sure, it's difficult to argue with the premise that ads are "just more answers to users' queries," but the search giant knows better. Ask yourself: How often do you click on ads when you search? Search engine results on Google now contain just as many ads as unpaid search results--yet the vast majority of clicks go to the unpaid results. The underrepresentation of clicks on paid ads shows that these ads aren't actually the most relevant answers to users' queries.
This battle is ultimately good for the entire Internet marketing ecosystem. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple are the biggest platform players that the Internet marketing industry uses on a daily basis. It's the responsibility of these players to compete fiercely and not collude with each other, which will provide a clean and competitive industry that puts the customer before quarterly profits. Bing's 'Scroogled' campaign and others like this will continue to bring balance to the Internet marketing ecosystem, and ultimately contribute to a better consumer offering.
Aaron Aders: Aaron is co-founder of DigitalRelevance™, a national leader in earned media and inbound marketing services. Building on more than a decade of Internet marketing experience, Aaron steers the strategic vision behind DigitalRelevance market research and collateral. @drelevance