Scroogled, my ass

Microsoft makes hay on its Scroogled claims while conveniently side-stepping its own dirty secrets

According to Alex Kantrowitz at AdAge, Microsoft's Google-bashing Scroogled ads work. As much as I detest Google's (possibly actionable) insistence on scanning every inbound and outbound Gmail message for ad-triggering keywords, Microsoft has just as many skeletons -- albeit in different closets -- and the Microsoft transgressions are getting worse, not better.

Attack ads like the Scroogled campaign belong in dirty political mudfests at the lowest end of the gene pool, not in the computer industry where the average level of intelligence arguably approaches room temperature. American politics has degraded to the point where attack ads are indistinguishable from news broadcasts. Let's hope the computer industry doesn't fall into the same tar pit, ushered by Steve Ballmer's handpicked Executive VP of Sewage, Mark Penn.

So far, Google has refrained from slinging mud back at the 'Softies, but I wonder how much longer its reserve will hold.

Here's how AdAge characterizes the effectiveness of the Google-bashing, Microsoft-sponsored scroogled.com website:

Once viewers do hit Scroogled.com, data collected for Microsoft by Answers Research show a 45 percent favorability gap in favor of Google contracting to just 5 percent. Data collected by Answers up until this summer also show the likelihood of someone recommending Google to a friend drop by 10 percent, as opposed to a 7 percent increase for Bing, after watching the ad.

"The Scroogled campaign is having a huge impact as consumers learn the stark difference between what Google says and what Google does," wrote a Microsoft spokesman in an email. Scroogled is now on its sixth wave of ads, which have been supported collectively with $10 million dollars in spending, according to a person familiar with the campaign. They also persist despite the recent revelations about the NSA's widespread surveillance activities, something Microsoft has been tied to.

Microsoft hasn't bothered to take on Yahoo Mail -- perhaps "Yahoogled" doesn't have the same advertising ring -- but Yahoo's just as up front about its snooping as Google. From the Yahoo Mail Additional Terms of Service posting:

Yahoo's automated systems scan and analyze all incoming and outgoing communications content sent and received from your account ... to, without limitation, provide personally relevant product features and content, to match and serve targeted advertising and for spam and malware detection and abuse protection. By scanning and analyzing such communications content, Yahoo collects and stores the data. Unless expressly stated otherwise, you will not be allowed to opt out of this feature. If you consent to this ATOS and communicate with non-Yahoo users using the services, you are responsible for notifying those users about this feature.

Here's the disconnect: Just yesterday, David Pann, general manager of the Microsoft Advertising Search Group, blogged about continued progress for the Yahoo Bing network:

... changes we are making in Bing Ads and on the Yahoo Bing Network are aimed at putting our customers first ... and doing all we can to give them a competitive edge ... advertiser spend on the Yahoo Bing Network continues to grow compared to Google -- it's up 39 percent year over year while Google's share of spend is up 18 percent. A lot of that is driven by non-brand click growth, which is up 45 percent on Bing Ads due to investments in our marketplace algorithms. In addition, CPCs fell 2 percent overall as Bing Ads continues to drive improvements that benefit our advertisers. The report says "advertiser ROI has improved on Bing Ads even as the platform has been able to deliver big traffic increases with better ad-matching technology."

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