Hot or Not So Hot? - Who Will Have the Christmas and New Year No. 1 Search Engine Ranking?

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One of the most profitable times of year for many online traders, reports that MSN may be taking ground from Yahoo and Google in the Christmas and New Year Sales war.

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Hey, you must use this search engine because its results are so much more accurate than the other search engines and it has new spam filters in place that do this, that and the other

Another bumper season for online traders, another woeful season for high street ‘bricks and mortar traders’? Nobody knows the figures yet, but with 80% of all sampled search engine ranking customers polled, expressing a need to be ranked on the first page of the MSN search engine this season, is Google to have a fight on its hands this New Year.

One of the most profitable times of year for online traders, 17% of a select number of sampled search engine ranking clients agreed that the 3 week period before Christmas 2005 was to be one of their most important sales periods.

75% of those polled declared that 26th December – 5th January was to be even more important and 100% not surprisingly agreed that ranking top in their own individual fields, if even only for that period, was a number one goal.

What is more surprising is that MSN, the leading search engine from the Microsoft network polled top as the number 1 search engine to rank highly in during both periods. With a narrow lead MSN, followed by Google and then Yahoo saw an earlier trend reported by some months ago not being bucked, which had Yahoo gaining great ground on Google.

The largest percentage believed that MSN, but only in the period of 26th December – 5th January, would overtake both Google and Yahoo in popularity, through the eyes of consumer’s, only for Google to re-take the lead after this period.

The results, although at first seeming slightly perplexing, lends believe a great deal to the recent massive exposure given to the MSN search service across the web.

Frequent web users perhaps could not have failed to notice the massively increased visibility of MSN through online and offline advertising. Whether it is MSN banner advertisements in their Hotmail email service (let us not forget that Hotmail, according to MSN’s own figures, reaches over 28 million users every month - no better place than to advertise its search engine and reach average Joe and average Jane), the MSN Perfect Christmas Countdown Calendar ( or recent television advertising campaigns to launch their new search engine service in 2005, the search engine seems to, at least from the highly unscientific findings of to have struck a chord with some online merchants. Believing that it holds the real key to exposure over the Yuletide and New Year season.

The reason, on analysis, may however be simple; MSN has been somewhat ‘in your face’ for some time, TV commercials, online advertising etc etc. hitting hard to the consumer and re-branding its search. It would seem that other big hitters such as Yahoo and Google have not really been seen to do this as much, appearing perhaps only in the News sections of the media with another acquisition, take-over or alliance. No ‘direct consumer’ mass-market advertising seems to have been taking place, at least in the eyes of the research numbers. MSN it could be said, according to, is perhaps taking a lead by demonstrating that it has a commitment to drive the mass-market to its search engine by advertising to the end-consumer.

Many a year ago say, when Yahoo was the driving force who could of course fail to remember the "Do You Yahoo!!?" advertising campaigns from 1996 (nearly 10 years ago). As the internet bubble burst so it seemed did the slow down of such large scale advertising campaigns but the tide turned again many years ago and, rather than just focussing on search results in a hope to bring Ma & Pa, as well as their 3 kids from Idaho to switch search engines, the giants need to focus on advertising now to these people through different mediums that truly reach out, just as Yahoo did in 1996.

When was the last time the average Joe said to another average Jane “Hey, you must use this search engine because its results are so much more accurate than the other search engines and it has new spam filters in place that do this, that and the other”. The answer unless Joe and Jane really do live in Geeks Ville is not very often. What, believe, could sway average Joe and Jane to switch search engine however is the 14 TV commercials they saw over the last 7 days, the constant barrage of advertising when they login to their MSN Hotmail account, the Christmas Countdown calendar forced upon them by work colleagues…and the list goes on.

To drive new consumers to a search engine takes external advertising, additional mediums, just like in the real old world of retail.

And this is how MSN could, believe, be sharing a higher proportion of commitment and enthusiasm by some online retailers this Christmas and New Year season, by knowing that only by driving average Joe and Jane to its search engine will online merchants realize that the tide may be turning in its favor.

Who is hot, and who is not this Christmas and New Year? says MSN is hot, but Google not (or should it be not as hot). At least for 2 weeks.

One thing is for certain, with the New Year sales starting on the high street today (even before 25th December), and with the Christmas present more often being “hard cash” rather than a festive treat, nicely wrapped and placed under the tree, online merchants need to prepare today for online consumer sale purchasing from 26th December.

The advice from is clear:

1. A website should get its online sales ready to launch on 26th December.

2. Put a focus on MSN for the period 26th December – 5th January.

3. Start a search engine ranking and advertising campaign today for exposure during that period in MSN.

To note one interesting fact; last year many large companies began their sale on 24th December, 1 day before Christmas. Be innovative, be different and think ahead –

Festive Cheer: Will there ever be an MSN advertisement on the home page of Google? Probably not, but a betting man may get good odds for it happening one day.

  • Company and product names (MSN, Google, Yahoo) are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

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