Surprise! It turns out that people who take Microsoft’s “Bing it on” challenge don’t actually prefer Bing to Google by a rate of 2-to-1. Yale Law School professor Ian Ayres, writing over at Freakonomics, says that he and his students recently conducted their own third-party studies using Microsoft’s own “Bing it on” website to determine whether Internet users really did think that Bing retrieved better search results than Google when presented with a Coke/Pepsi-style “blind taste test.” The results, Ayres found, actually showed the opposite.
“To the contrary of Microsoft’s claim, 53% of subjects preferred Google and 41% Bing (6% of results were ‘ties’),” he writes. “This is not even close to the advertised claim that people prefer Bing ‘nearly two-to-one.’ It is misleading to have advertisements that say people prefer Bing 2:1 and also say join the millions of people who’ve taken the Bing-It-On challenge, if, as in our study, the millions of people haven’t preferred Bing at a nearly a 2:1 rate.”
Previous research has suggested that while Google’s brand strength does account for some of the reason consumers overwhelmingly use it over Bing, the bias in favor of the Google brand name isn’t nearly enough to account for the entire gap between the two search engines.
UPDATE: Microsoft has responded to Ayres’ study and claims that the professor and his students used a faulty methodology in their work.