“If you want to get customers hooked,” said every underhanded marketing man in every TV show or film ever, “you need to get them while they’re young.” And while that line would seem like a cliche if you heard it on Mad Men, it seems like the sort of tactic that Microsoft can really get behind.
Because they’re taking their battle with Google into schools.
“Bing For Schools” is a specially tailored version of the Bing search engine, designed for use in American schools – and it’s offering the sort of concessions that Google only make when you’ve spent the GDP of a small country hounding them through the courts.
Bing For Schools will have all search advertising removed, in order to provide students in the US with results free of any pay per click interference, and Bing’s suite of security and safe-search filters have been upgraded. The new search offering has also made moves to assuage the worries of parents (and DuckDuckGo users) by ensuring that there will be no tracking and comprehensive privacy protection settings.
Furthermore, Microsoft will also provide short lesson plans which will teach a new generations of students how to be more digital-savvy, while keeping Bing at the centre of their online experience.
While this doesn’t look like it will affect many of FirstFound’s customers – who, as a rule, don’t sell primarily to American teenagers – it does prove that Bing are playing a long game when it comes to overtaking Google.
Young people are having more and more of an effect on the digital market, and today’s teenagers are tomorrow’s customers. So the fact that we’re a mere few years away from a generation of clients that use Bing over Google should be a wakeup call for those putting all of their eggs in Google’s search basket.
It’s unclear whether Bing For Schools will be released in the UK, but if it proves popular in the states, it’s a safe bet that Microsoft will roll it out in as many countries as possible. Which would further cement Bing’s position as Google’s number one challenger in the vast majority of global markets.
And that’s going to lead to some very interesting times in search.