Microsoft Tries Hot Babe to Sell Bing's Search

After searchers tried Microsoft's Bing.com, traffic fizzled. Will a "Bingathon" with an attractive host make a difference?

By Scott McGrew
|  Monday, Jun 8, 2009  |  Updated 4:41 PM EDT
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Microsoft Tries Hot Babe to Sell Bing's Search

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Will Olivia Munn make you go "Bing?"

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Microsoft would really, really, really like you to use Bing, it's new search engine.  So it's spending millions of dollars in advertising to get you to do it.  Part of that money will go towards what appears to be a fake telethon on Hulu, the online-video site, due to start Monday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.  Starring the unquestionably hot Olivia Munn and some other guy, the idea has generated a little buzz, mostly blog postings wondering "what is it"?

At only an hour, the "Bingathon" hardly seems to rate the "-athon" ending. Microsoft will also pay for all the advertising on all Hulu streams for the day, making the service otherwise ad-free. (Hulu is a joint venture partly controlled by NBC Universal, the owner of this website.)

Advertising is certainly a time-tested strategy -- it supports media both online and off -- but we're not convinced anyone can create loyalty to an Internet search service through ads.  After all, how many advertisements have you seen for Twitter?  None.  And it's hugely successful. Google has long been averse to advertising, only recently experimenting with ads for its Chrome browser. The best advertisement for Google's search is Google.com. It's fun to watch Munn, sure -- but how much do you want to bet a spike in Google searches for her name will be the only lasting result of this Bingathon?

Scott McGrew is a technology reporter for NBC Bay Area.

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