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Scroogled dents Google's reputation, claims Microsoft

Gregg Keizer | March 8, 2013
One of several ways Microsoft measures results of its attack campaign.

Instead, he defended Scroogled against critics who decried the negative tone, and who urged Microsoft to make its case on the merits of its own

"Mainstream is into technology, my Mom is getting into technology, but she doesn't care about [things like] specifications, the latency of a service or the colors being used or screen real estate. But she does care about someone reading her email," said Weitz.

A feature-by-feature comparison, said Weitz, might work with the technorati, but would fall flat when pitched to a broader group.

LaMotte, however, noted that while many may bemoan attack ads, there's evidence that they work. And Microsoft's before-and-after brand reputation measurement shows so.

"That's huge," said LaMotte of Microsoft's contention that Scroogled visitors' perception of Google plunged by 30%. "If it's accurate, that's a substantial change in sentiment in such a short span of time."

Others were unconvinced. "Three and a half million visitors is impressive, but not enough to register," said Mike Zammuto, president of Reputation Changer, an online reputation management firm. Reputation Changer has not seen any change in Google's rating post-Scroogled.

"Google has a fantastic brand -- there are only a small number of companies that have [brands that strong], Apple and Google are two -- so it's much harder for someone like Microsoft to put a dent in it," said Zammuto.

With an even broader campaign or one that lasted longer, Microsoft may be able to change perceptions, Zammuto said, "But this hasn't made any difference. Google's brand is too solid."

Microsoft's Weitz owned up to other measuring sticks he's using to evaluate Scroogled, ranging from social media and blog mentions to the number of petition signees.

The petition has accumulated 115,000 signatures, putting the response rate -- the percentage of the 3.5 million visitors who have signed -- around 3.3%.

"That's very high for an email or online campaign," Weitz asserted. "And it's higher than a traditional marketing campaign."

He's right about email. According to a 2012 survey by the Direct Marketing Association (DHA), email campaigns average a response rate of just 0.12%.

But there are better bottom-line metrics than response rate or brand reputation that could be used to gauge Scroogled's efficacy.

"I feel in some ways I'm arguing counter to our first discussion, when I talked about the advocacy approach," said LaMotte. "But the goal here is the same for any advertising campaign. In a political campaign, the final result is that the candidate gets elected. Here, the bottom line is revenue, and their goal is conversion [from Gmail to]."

On that level, Scroogled hasn't shown much of anything, or better put, publicly-available metrics haven't shown a change.


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