The Noisy Channel

 

Duck Duck Kumo?

April 2nd, 2009 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

I just read in Advertising Age that Microsoft is planning to spend as much as $100M on a marketing campaign for its new “Kumo” search engine. For perspective, that’s about as much as they spent to acquire Powerset, and almost as much as Endeca’s revenue in 2007. And they’re spending it on ads. I’m not an Apple fan boy by any means, but I can’t help thinking of thisย  “I’m a Mac / I’m a PC” clip. Still, in a multi-billion dollar business, I suppose $100M is chump change.

But what jumped out at me from the article was this paragraph:

According to one person close the situation, the forthcoming campaign will be careful to not position “Kumo” as a competitor to Yahoo or Google and instead cast it as a reimagined search engine that ups the game by yielding fewer but more-focused results. The proposed strategy is probably a good — if not the only — way to go.

That sounds a lot like…Duck Duck Go. I know that Stefan Weitz, director of Live Search, and Gabriel Weinberg, who is Duck Duck Go, at least occasionally read this blog. I’m curious if my observations are even close, and what the coincidence of vision bodes either effort. I assume that Weinberg isn’t planning to spend $100M on advertising.

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gabriel Weinberg // Apr 2, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Yes, I do read your blog ๐Ÿ™‚

    Kumo does seem to be taking a similar approach, at least in as much as one can glean from that article. That is, less is more.

    However, as time goes by I’m increasingly skeptical this approach will illicit enough of an immediate “wow, that’s different and better” response to get people to seriously try it out. I thought (and think) Duck Duck Go looks a lot different than Google, but many people still find a way to believe it looks the same. Whether this is all psychology or not (i.e. it really is different or not) is irrelevant if it isn’t perceived as different enough.

    I’ m also skeptical that the $100M in marketing will help get the point across unless they have actually broken that psychological barrier. Ask.com tried that amount of ad spend in the past, marketing a “different” looking search engine as well. And look where that got them…

  • 2 Daniel Tunkelang // Apr 2, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I’m trying to turn “If you blog about it, they will come” into an art form. ๐Ÿ™‚

    What a catch 22, though. If your interface is too different from Google, then you face the objection that everyone wants a simple, familiar interface. If your interface is too similar, then you’re dismissed as irrelevant.

    I’d like to believe that substance matters at least as much as perception. Back in the day, Google didn’t win because of perception; it won because it offered a noticeable improvement in results quality. And even today, while their result quality in general doesn’t strike me as particularly differentiated from that of its competitors, I’d suspect they still have an edge on content freshness.

    As for the $100M in ad spend, I agree. I shudder to think how much they have spent on marketing the Zune.

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