Google, Microsoft’s Bing, and Yahoo are vying for your attention. Do you feel the pull to be loyal to one over the others?
For Android users, Google is practically integrated into everything aspect of the operating system. Many Generation X-ers can keep the nostalgia alive by sticking with an email address that bares the signature “@yahoo.com” moniker they created in their early years.
I feel the pull towards Bing because—in addition to their stunning background photos that change daily—at least once a month it gives me five dollars.
Microsoft kicked off Bing Rewards program in September 2010 after its previous incentive program, Search and Give, went the way of the company’s former search engine, Live Search, in a simple re-branding and re-working.
So here is how it works: do searches, get points. One point for every two searches. There is a point cap each day – 10 points for mobile searches and 15 points for desktop searches – totaling 25 points each day. Bonus points if a friend joins.
A plethora of rewards are available to users with varying point requirements. Rotating sweepstakes cost approximately 50 points a pop whereas $5 gift cards for places such as Amazon, Starbucks, Burger King, Applebees, Sephora, Macy’s, Game Stop, Fandango, and Domino’s Pizza require a bit more saving at 525 points each.
Of course there are the requisite Microsoft prizes, one month of Xbox Live Gold Membership for 699 points or one month of Xbox Music for 950 points, among others.
Since joining Bing Rewards in early 2012, I have earned a total of 12,824 points which I redeemed for 26 Amazon gift cards totaling $130. Alternatively, my husband uses Bing and redeems his points for a free month of Hulu, 680 points. Because of this, we haven’t had to pay our Hulu subscription in over two years.
I am often astounded when I mention the Bing Rewards program to friends and they say they’ve never heard of it. I made the rounds at my favorite caffeine watering hole one morning and spoke with the folks that were coming and going and more than half had no idea Bing Rewards existed. Those who were aware of the program said they either weren’t interested or they had made accounts but primarily use Google.
I found it odd. Microsoft says they have more than five million Bing Rewards users and in a city that boarders the Microsoft campus, it’s even more shocking there aren’t more people aware of the program and actively taking advantage of the rewards.
While I’m an active user of the rewards program, I was skeptical of Bing’s need to incentivize its service.
“Bing Rewards was designed to help you discover ways Bing can help you do the things that are most important to you,” said Courtney Gehring, a Microsoft spokesperson. “It allows us to recognize and appreciate our most consistent, loyal users with additional perks as a way of saying ‘thanks for choosing Bing.’”
I followed up with Microsoft to inquire if it was trying to persuade users to side with Bing over other search engines, but it did not respond to my request for comment.
Next, I set my sights on the other search engines to see if similar programs exist.
In 2014, Yahoo followed in Bing’s footsteps by partnering with Swagbucks, infusing the point-gathering entity with Yahoo’s web-surfing power. Swagbucks users can watch videos, visit websites, and refer friends to earn points that are redeemable for a plethora of gift cards similar to those in the Bing catalog. I tried this service, and found the site to be slow and cluttered, but the points accumulate very quickly if you have the time to dedicate to the interface.
I am still not entirely sure if Bing is trying to win me over by offering money or if it is simply thanking me for my participation. Either way it’s working, and I plan to continue to use Bing as my search engine of choice.