Microsoft Hitting Google Where it Hurts: Making Ad Words Accountable

Microsoft Hitting Google Where it Hurts: Making Ad Words Accountable

Summary: The Genghis Kahn school of marketing, made famous in the 1980s by Larry Ellison, has as its principle maxim the notion that it’s not enough that one succeeds, one’s opponents must also fail. A look under the covers at one of Microsoft’s latest additions to its CRM Online product has a little of that old Genghis Kahn “zero sum” game plan, and the zero with the target on its forehead is good old Google.

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The Genghis Kahn school of marketing, made famous in the 1980s by Larry Ellison, has as its principle maxim the notion that it’s not enough that one succeeds, one’s opponents must also fail. A look under the covers at one of Microsoft’s latest additions to its CRM Online product has a little of that old Genghis Kahn “zero sum” game plan, and the zero with the target on its forehead is good old Google.

Here’s what Microsoft and its CRM team are up to. Coming to CRM Online this fall – and for the low low price of “free”, no less – is a new feature that lets Microsoft CRM customers track the success of their search word-based web marketing campaigns. The concept is simple: capture the leads as generated by your favorite search engine, and then analyze how those leads translate into actual sales for your company. In the process you get to see whether the money you’re paying to Google for your marketing campaign – to pick on the company most likely to hate this idea – is actually worth anything in terms of genuine results.

I have to admit I love this idea, and wish there were some way to do this on a much broader base, because the bottom line is that Henry Ford’s old adage about advertising – half of what I spend is wasted, and if I knew what half it was I’d get rid of it – is very much alive and well in the online world.

The problem is simple – the metrics that are typically used by search engines and marketplaces to measure their own value to their advertisers, like clicks and page views, really only report on the most basic of behaviors: someone came to the site and did something. Did that interaction actually result in any business being generated? Hard to tell, because there’s really no way to connect browsing behavior to an actual sale in most B2B and B2C environments.

But if your campaign is launched from the same CRM system that is tracking completed orders, you suddenly have a roundtrip view of your campaign’s success – or failure – that’s about as accurate as you can get. And, over time, you have a pretty accurate picture of how well that search engine you pay your big marketing bucks to is actually performing, in dollars and cents.

But wait, there’s more. Much more. Supposing you are a big enterprise software vendor –take Microsoft, for instance – in a do-or-die struggle against a big Web search vendor – Google, if you will – and you had a hosted service that tracked search engine success for a large number of customers. Imagine if you – Microsoft – aggregated your customers’ success rate in using their – Google’s – search engine, and then published the results. Wouldn’t it be interesting to show exactly how successful – or, as I am inclined to believe, shockingly unsuccessful – Google Ad Words are in generating real business for a broad range of customers?

Damn right it would be interesting. Game changing, I would add. Because suddenly the myth of Ad Word advertising would be faced with the reality of sales, and, well, I think the results would be sobering for anyone who thinks Google is invincible and a welcome revelation for anyone who thinks there’s more to marketing than Google Ad Words.

Will Microsoft actually collect and publish this data? I don’t know, they wouldn’t tell me. But in my heart of hearts I just know that those shy quiet milktoasts up there in Redmond would never do anything like publish success and failure rates for their competitors. That would be too… aggressive. I’m sure they’d much rather just let the mythology of Google Ad Words continue to eat their market perception lunch every day.

Wouldn’t you?

Topics: Browser, Enterprise Software, Google, Microsoft, Software

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22 comments
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  • I quit using Ad Words!!!!

    My tracking software showed NO real improvement in click to sales from Ad Words.
    What it did show was the vast bulk of the clicks came from FAKE sites posting my Ad Words ads and Google refused to anything about them. Or the money we where being billed by Google.

    I search Google and find lots and lots of these sites. Now we only use Live.com to search as we seldom see such sites.
    dragon@...
  • RE: Microsoft Hitting Google Where it Hurts: Making Ad Words Accountable

    Excellent, a $100 billion company against a $150 billion company.

    Fake clicks from fake sites.

    Lets see, if I were a programmer I would ... Naw, nobody would ever buy that.
    arrowrod
  • Why?

    Unless Microsoft has some dramatically improved advertising network (and I'm guessing they don't, at least compared to google) why would they want potential customers to think twice about advertising online?

    That's like a car salesman saying that all cars suck and maybe you should consider a plane. What they'd have to do is show how Hondas are underpowered, unreliable, and overpriced compared to whatever car they are selling.
    CelticBrewer
  • RE: Microsoft Hitting Google Where it Hurts: Making Ad Words Accountable

    Dude really? Have you heard of Google Analtics,
    Omniture SiteCatalyst, or Webtrends/Hitbox? This is
    old news and there are many other companies offering
    these services....including Google. Get up to date,
    your article is much ado about nothing.
    TheClickGuru
    • Dude Really....

      You need to understand the difference between click analysis and genuine sales order analysis: GOOG Analytics can't tell me whether my ad campaign worked because it doesn't know what I've sold to whom. You need to know who is a paying customer and trace their status back to a click on a website to do this level of analysis. I don't see how third party analytics can accomplish that.
      josh@...
      • "I don't see how third party analytics can accomplish that. "

        I don't see how ANYONE can accomplish that.

        Get real. Unless you plan on installing malware on every potential customer's computer nobody could hope to accomplish this.

        You start an ad campaign. You watch how sales change while the ads are running. You decide if it was worth it.

        There's nothing new about this.
        bmerc
        • I think they can, without malware,

          quantify how many customers are coming in via ad links versus the total customers for any given business and it's products. <br><br>
          Although this could be misleading in that ads are often viewed and decisions to use the product made later and the company is not accessed via ad links. <br><br>
          Or the very cautious, like me, who prefer to not click through an ad no matter.
          <br><br>
          I suppose it could be of some value overall as you could at least see how much of your business is actually using ad links to make a purchase. For what it's worth.
          xuniL_z
      • No, really. Analytics can.

        Have you ever used Google Analytics yourself? I've implemented this exact thing for several of my customers. They can see exactly how much has sold and they can see which ad made them that money. It's been doing it for at least two years now.
        deedeedubya
  • Double-edged sword...

    Someone else has already pointed out that this
    information is already available from a number of
    sources, so I'll skip past that and go to the meat.
    The problem with your assertions are that they assume
    the results will be negative. One would have to
    accept the possibility that the exact opposite may be
    proven though. Your article seems to leave no room
    for that possibility though, nor the ramifications for
    Microsoft if that turns out to be the case.
    jasonp@...
    • Right, This Time

      Yep, I assume that the reality of Ad Words is far from the reality of actual product sales. I leave no room for the possibility that Ad Words and the rest perform better than they claim. You understood me well.
      Thanks.
      josh@...
  • Given how many use Microsoft properties and search...

    Just on a global scale, Microsoft has a paltry 5% (Live is
    1.54% and MSN is 3.46%), which is less than 1/2 of Yahoo
    (with 11.58%). Google, on the other hand, only has a mere
    79.03% of the market (globally). One might argue quality
    results (we are happy with a service that only gets 5%, who
    would use a service with 12% or 79% when they can have
    5%?) but generally one wants as much as possible
    (meaning higher ROI) and that just isn't going to happen
    when you work with a small player in the field that very
    few use.
    B.O.F.H.
    • hmmm?

      I don't understand. I believe Microsoft's CRM is quite popular and widely used. <br>
      The blog is about exposing the actual value of Google advertising when sales have been tied to clicks, and the great possibility that the google advertising is far less effective than companies are betting on. Now they will be able to know. <br>
      I don't know if the blog is trying to say Microsoft would hope this to bolster their search business, but more of just a way to hit Google where it really hurts. I'm sure they owe that favor by now.
      xuniL_z
  • RE: Microsoft Hitting Google Where it Hurts: Making Ad Words Accountable

    Joshua, you have shown that you are a technology person, not a marketer.

    Microsoft is not tracking paid search success to bury Google. They are doing it beacause it is a good idea. Any company with a sophisticated enough marketing department tries very hard to match campaign success to revenue, and Microsoft is making it a little easier. Adding such a feature to CRM extends the capability not just to compaines with marketing departments, but also to small businesses.

    Microsoft mastered Genghis Kahn marketing before anyone knew who Larry Ellison was. (Remember "DOS isn't done till Lotus won't run?") The Google angle may be nice gravy, but it's not the meat of the reason this feature is being offered.
    ajpress@...
    • Hit me where it hurts

      I'm not a marketer??? Thanks, that's a relief. Of course the fact that you think I'm therefore unqualified to comment on issues related to marketing means that you aren't a marketer either -- if you were you'd understand how silly your comment looks.

      I never implied this get Ad Words capability was the only reason MSFT did this, for the very reasons you state.

      As for MSFT doing Genghis Khan marketing, you're right there too. But Larry coined the term...
      josh@...
  • RE: Microsoft Hitting Google Where it Hurts: Making Ad Words Accountable

    And Google gets another slap to the head. Its
    starting to be the new king of abuse. Good move by
    Microsoft to cut Google out of the picture. Each day
    Google dies a little more and more.
    Loverock Davidson
  • Agreed

    I have read many from Josh. This is the one I agree to. People have been all over painting a picture of future how google will dominate. They forget about one thing: aside of search, google is nothing. ask google yourself, can they ever sleep tight with MSFT in there? two things can kick google out of game: MSFT gets Yahoo, this will eventually happen, and gets 5% up in search market share. or, MSFT, Yahoo, ask.com, aol search alliance. we will just wait to see what happens.
    jk_10
  • Great idea -

    I think all of the hype/BS/"Excitement" around getting Web ads is a total joke. I don't use them (hate them actually) and I don't know anyone that has ever bought anything because of a AD on google or anything. I think there are a lot companies out there living on a inflated bag of marketing that has no meat...this would be great for everything and get out of this Web MarketingBS.

    Hopefully MS will also look at the data and get off the Yahoo garbage...
    TheBottomLineIsAllThatMatters
  • RE: Microsoft Hitting Google Where it Hurts: Making Ad Words Accountable

    Except Google already allows for integration into CRM programs by supporting things such as the Salesforce.com plug in. You can measure the effectiveness of your Google Adwords campaign today via those tools (in dollars and cents).

    R.J. Lewis
    President & CEO
    <a href="http://www.e-healthcaresolutions.com">e-Healthcare Solutions</a>
    rlewis@...
    • RE: Microsoft Hitting Google Where it Hurts: Making Ad Words Accountable

      Yep, SFDC, Entellium and other CRM vendors have already given you Adwords analysis for a long time.
      jwix78
  • Microsoft is following, not leading

    Tracking AdWords results in CRM is already supported in salesforce.com. (http://www.salesforce.com/products/google/adwords)

    Given that the salesforce.com feature was apparently developed in cooperation with Google, I don't think Google is shaking in their boots now that Microsoft is adding it to their CRM. There's a good chance it will help Google sell more AdWords.

    The only story here is that Microsoft is following rather than leading in the CRM market. They finally got tired of customers asking why their CRM product can't track advertising campaigns with the biggest Internet advertising agency.
    pointzerotwo