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Report in the NYT claims political vet is working to drag Google's name through the mud

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) learned the hard way in the 1990s that you don't want to be on the bad side of antitrust regulators.  Now it's looking to give Google Inc. (GOOG) a little yuletide surprise -- an invitation to that cruel world.

I. Microsoft Consultant to Consumers: Don't Get "Scroogled"

According to a new report in The New York Times, Microsoft has hired a former advisor to President Bill Clinton to lead the multi-channel effort against Google.   Mark Penn, 58, is the brains behind the operation.

His first work recently aired; a commercial attack Google for (supposedly) getting inaccurate search results.  The commercial quip to consumers is "don't get scroogled".  

Meanwhile, on The Hill, Mr. Penn is looking to make sure Google gets "scroogled" by federal regulators.  He's noisily complaining to anyone who will listen about the supposedly abusive advertising behavior, which he and Microsoft claim Google uses to exclude smaller rivals like Microsoft from the search ad market.


Mr. Penn knows a thing or two about mixing facts and attacks.  He was top paid pollster for President Clinton's 1996 successful reelection bid, helping the POTUS win over certain demographic sectors like "soccer moms".  Afterwards, he kept on the Clinton train, helping with Hilary Clinton's unsuccessful, but high-profile 2008 presidential bid.  He became perhaps best known for his stinging "3 a.m" commercial, which called into question whether President Obama had what it took to lead the country.

The DC vet was only forced out of the Clinton tent after it came to light that he did some controversial side work, lobbying for the government of Colombia.  Mark Penn also raised some eyebrows after Facebook, Inc. (FB) hired him to do an underhanded attack against Google.

A former colleague of the lobbyist/advocate tells The New York Times, "Google should be prepared for everything but the kitchen sink thrown at them.  Actually, they should be prepared for the kitchen sink to be thrown at them, too."

II. Building a "SWAT Team"

Mr. Penn's assembled team in D.C. is small, but efficient.  It contains some high profile names, including a former advisor to the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.  The lobbyist/advertising consultant describes, "The concept is to create a SWAT team to work with the product teams on some of their toughest problems.  If any of our competitors say things about us that we don’t think are true, we’re not going to sit on the sidelines.  We’re going to pop them."

He's already been busy attacking Google on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Microsoft is surely hoping that the more aggressive turn breathes some life into its search efforts, which have been bleeding money for over a decade.

Mark Penn
Mark Penn [Image Source: PRNewser]

There are some signs that his efforts are succeeding.  Google is facing several antitrust inquiries in the U.S. and European Union, thanks in part to Microsoft's complaints.  And a recent campaign highlighted that Google is now only featuring merchants in its shopping search who pay it to be listed surprised and angered consumers who were unaware of the change.

That's precisely the reaction Mr. Penn is looking for -- outrage and indignation.  He's well aware that customers currently have a glowing image of Google and a less warm and fuzzy image of Microsoft (in many cases).  But the DC veteran who attended Harvard University with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in the mid-1970s, and who consulted with Microsoft here-and-there through the 1990s is looking to step up to the plate and lead the software veteran's effort to change that impression.

When customers think Google, Mr. Penn wants them to think "scroogle".

Source: The New York Times



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I thought we were passed this
By Integral9 on 12/18/2012 10:01:19 AM , Rating: 2
MSFT, nobody wants your search engine. Get over it.




RE: I thought we were passed this
By kleinma on 12/18/2012 10:13:04 AM , Rating: 2
I use bing, quite a bit. I use google too. I don't like all my eggs in one basket. Google has been well known to skew their search rankings to favor their own products and high paying advertisers. Go to http://www.bingiton.com/ and see which search engine you really like better. When I ran through it, the results varied, but in my searches I typically end up with a tie between the 2.


RE: I thought we were passed this
By nafhan on 12/18/2012 5:24:08 PM , Rating: 2
I would feel a bit hesitant about using an MS website to help me compare an MS product with one of their competitors' products. Even if I could be certain the results actually reflect what I would get from going to straight to the competitor, it's pretty easy to just open both search engines in side by side browser windows.

So... did a comparison test of my own. Both "Bing it on" results are different than a straight Google search 2 out of 5 times (the other three times the Google results matched the Google results). While it doesn't necessarily point to any shenanigans on MS's part, it does indicate that you may not be getting an accurate representation of Google's search results by using MS's comparison tool.

Also, just to be clear, this was not a rigorous test. For the terms I searched for, the results from both search engines were adequate.


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