Raise your hand if you remember Scroogle.
For those of you who need a little refresher, Scroogle was a web service that enabled Internet users to search Google anonymously. The service was wildly popular in its heyday, boasting 350,000 daily search queries and ranking in the top 4,000 websites around the world.
Scroogle blocked all Google cookies and eliminated log files for searchers. Then, in 2012, everything came crashing down. A sudden barrage of search requests by Google combined with an anonymous DoS attack nailed Scroogle’s coffin shut.
By February, Scroogle was no more.
Then, on November 28, 2012, Bing resurrected Scroogle – sort of. The Microsoft company launched a full-scale war on Google Shopping by using the domain “Scroogled.com” and a tongue-in-cheek reference to the brand. Bing has even released YouTube videos as part of the overall attack strategy.
Fighting Google on its own turf. Ouch.
Why is Bing after Google Shopping, Anyway?
Microsoft would have you believe you’re getting royally “scroogled” by Google Shopping. Right in time for the holiday season, Microsoft has come out swinging against Google & Co. in a mighty big way. The company has lashed out at Google before, but this new campaign is downright dirty.
Let’s start with the YouTube videos. This is undoubtedly an underdog power play – pretty brazen to post these attack ads directly onto a Google-owned website. The first video ad is deadly serious; it’s one of those “scare-you-into-switching-to-us” kinds of spots. The ad displays a page of Google Shopping results for toy dump trucks, and the narrator ominously asks the viewer to figure out which results are paid listings.
“Easy,” he chides. “They’re all ads.”
The most shocking part of the spot is the tailor-made definition of “scroogled” – the new Google practice of selling their shopping results to the highest bidder. Yikes. Microsoft really has the claws out in this one.
The second ad Microsoft uploaded to YouTube tries (rather unsuccessfully) to tap into the whole “funny” angle – perhaps a play to gain some viral traction. The ad features an overacting couple discussing the dishonesty of Google Shopping results while cooking dinner. What I found interesting about both ads was that each repeated the catchphrase “for a more honest search, try Bing.”
Frankly, this sounds a little loaded coming from Google’s biggest search engine competitor. Bing’s setting forth the idea that attention should be drawn to May 31, 2012 – that’s when Google Shopping changed its listings to include only paid results. In an SEC disclosure, Google justified the change by declaring, “after all, ads are just more answers to users’ queries.”
Bing held its fire until Google had completely rolled out the change. The switch went full-scale back in October, and Bing was there waiting with an ad campaign designed to make you blush. For your viewing pleasure, here’s a screenshot of the homepage of Bing’s new Scroogled website:
The website is a smear campaign of massive proportions, but all the facts on the website are right on the money. For example, the sidebar features quotes from official Google correspondence in 2004 and 2012, and the difference is marked, to say the least:
At the time of this writing, the website has been live for roughly a day. It’ll be fun to see how long it stays that way.
Part of a Bigger Problem?
Bing is, of course, doing this for publicity. Also (obviously) the ulterior motive is to persuade search engine users to switch to Bing. Although their intentions are less than honorable, the ad campaign does shed light on Google’s shady practices when itcomes to its shopping platform changes.
But let’s back up for a minute.
When I searched deeper for this article, I found a CNET guest post by none other than SEO extraordinaire Danny Sullivan. In his post, he pointed out that Bing has been doing the exact same thing that it’s blasting Google for.
When Sullivan searched the term “lego death star,” he found Google Shopping at the top of the page. Here’s a screenshot of what he found when he searched for the same term on Bing:
But wait, it gets better. When I searched for the same term in Google, I found the same results as Sullivan. However, when I searched the term in Bing, the “Bing Shopping” vertical was nowhere to be found.
So what’s that all about?
I call foul. Bing’s attempting to call Google out for something it’s been doing itself for quite some time. The real issue here is not Bing; it’s the relative legality of all-paid Google Shopping results appearing inside the organic listings under the guise of found content.
My opinion? Google has every right to display ads wherever it pleases. However, it’s rather ironic that G makes such a fuss about webmasters utilizing the “nofollow” tag and labeling private ads when the search giant itself sneaks unlabeled shopping results right into the organic SERPs.
Label it Google – just call it what it is.
is a tech news junkie, fledgling Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news
blogs. She thrives on social media, web design, and uncovering the truth about all the newest marketing fads that pop up all over the ‘net. Find out more about Nell by visiting her online portfolio at Content by Nell
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Bing Scroogles Google in Epic Showdown