“Better Than Google” Claims: Why Doesn’t Anyone Believe Them?



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Microsoft continues to run online its Pepsi-Challenge style ads “Bing It On,” in which a majority of users prefer Bing in a “blind comparison test” with Google. Despite the commercials and despite Microsoft reporting that after extensive testing users preferred Bing 2:1, people generally express skepticism.

People simply don’t buy the campaign.

Another recent study conducted by Butler University found that Q&A engine ChaCha bested Google in terms of the quality of answers provided (across nearly 4,000 queries). And last week, YP released the results of an extensive studyof local search relevance (by Crowdflower) in which it was found to have generally better local results than Google (and Bing, Yahoo).

Butler search quality test

In each of these studies and cases, people have expressed doubt to me about their accuracy or veracity. Why? Is it because nothing can ever beat or improve upon the quality of Google’s results? Is that simply not possible in the popular mind?

It would appear not. Thus, these studies are called “biased” or “flawed” or simply “wrong.”

The combination of Google’s brand strength, the perception that nobody can match its search R&D, as well as the public’s comfort with the Google UX (“the Google habit”) make assailing Google with any sort of “evidence” extremely difficult. Indeed, the majority of the public (perhaps especially bloggers and the tech press) seem all but immune to the notion that anything could possibly outperform Google.

YP search satisfaction comparison

The only things that appears able to compete with Google are equally strong brands (i.e., Amazon, Apple) and mobile apps, which offer more direct access to content and information than Google typically does in mobile.

While online and mobile competition is furious, and various startups are working on new “search” paradigms, it would appear that the majority of the US public cannot be convinced that any competitor, large or small, offers more relevant or better search results than Google’s.

I’m sure there’s a psychological term for it; there’s a cognitive “firewall” and almost “irrational” belief that appears to protect Google against competitors’ claims. The competition really isn’t “just a click away.”

Below is one of the many “Bing It On” videos/commercials run by Microsoft.



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