Microsoft Ceases Bing Cashback – Good News for Affiliates

Microsoft, the company which has quite possibly lost more money online than any other company (see the below chart published by the Business Insider in April of this year), has announced that they are closing Bing Cashback.

Microsoft's Online Operating Losses

Microsoft’s online services division lost over $710 Million dollars in the first quarter of 2010 alone. It would be safe to assume that Bing Cashback (with its endorsements by celebrities, TV ads, etc) was a big part of this. Additionally, it is apparent that it didn’t pick up exactly the way Microsoft had hoped. Here’s an excerpt from their yesterday’s announcement:

As part of this “test-and-learn” mentality, we will be retiring the Bing cashback feature, which means that the last day you can earn cashback will be July 30, 2010.

Why are we doing this? When we originally began to offer the cashback feature, it was designed to help advertisers reach you with compelling offers, and to provide a new type of shopping experience that would change user behavior and attract a bunch of new users to Bing.

In lots of ways, this was a great feature – we had over a thousand merchant partners delivering great offers to customers and seeing great ROI on their campaigns, and we were taking some of the advertising revenue and giving it back to customers. But after a couple of years of trying, we did not see the broad adoption that we had hoped for. [underlining mine]

All of the above is actually a very good news for affiliate marketers.

1) It is a great news for cashback affiliates. Earlier this morning one of them wrote to me: “they had over 90% of our merchants”. Now a big and powerful competitor is removing itself from the market, leaving it for affiliates to compete in. There is a big market for rebates/cashback out there (see the comments under Microsoft’s announcement where people are unanimous in their disappointment with the news). Maybe it is not right for Microsoft’s expectations, but it works for affiliates.

2) Paid search and content affiliates, especially those that focus on consumer retail products, will benefit from this too. Again, it’ll be much easier to compete without Bing Cashback being there.

Have I missed anything else?

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