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Angry outburst against frienemy was met with much criticism

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Google Inc. (GOOG) have an interesting relationship.  On the one hand Microsoft languishes with small market shares in the search and smartphone markets, dreaming of being Google.  It's actively sued Google over smartphone patents, and has milked billions in licensing settlements from Android phonemakers.  It's also pushed for tough antitrust actions against Google.  On the other hand, Google still relies on Microsoft Windows for much of its ad revenue, an awkward relationship.

The frienemy's relationship devolved somewhat when Microsoft launched a nasty attack on its search rival accusing Google of "Scroogling" customers.  The ads take issue with Google's scanning of Gmail emails for behavioral marketing, and also tactics involved with Google Shopping.

But this week Microsoft Senior Online Services Director Stefan Weitz told public radio and TV station KQED that the ad campaign "is about finished".  The website and catchphrase will remain active, but the print, web, and television ads will die off.

The online services executive revealed that Microsoft hatched the campaign after a Roper Center for Public Opinion Research (at the University of Connecticut) revealed that people were unaware of the extent of Google's online behavioral monitoring including "reading" (anonymously) emails in Gmail.

He effectively admits, though, that the campaign did not have a major impact, commenting that using Google search is "a habit... it's like smoking. It's hard to get folks to stop doing it."

Here's a few of Microsoft's "Scroogled" ads:

Some of our readers responded positively to the campaign.  Echoing Mr. Weitz's comments tayb writes:

This campaign is not going to convince me to stop using gmail but I do hope it convinces google to stop scanning my emails. I do consider this an invasion of privacy even if I use adblock and never see the ads.

Others were quite upset at Microsoft.  Reclaimer77 writes:

Microsoft is grasping at straws here in this pathetic attempt. Bing is hemorrhaging money to the tune of $1+ billion a year, and they have NO answer to Google's services.

I use a Gmail account and I'm hard pressed to see how my privacy is at stake. I never get spam mails, Gmail has one of the best spam filters I've ever seen. And I never have targeted adds shoved down my throat.

As usual they collect ANONYMOUS data that helps them make add revenue, so we can all enjoy their services free. I think that's a pretty good deal if you ask me.

Also Microsoft is being dishonest in the extreme. They do the exact same thing with their free Hotmail service! It's morally wrong to be this hypocritical in order to smear a competitor.

Ultimately extremely negative advertising campaigns -- including Scroogle can be effective (see "Get a Mac"), but also have the tendency to backfire.  A recent article by Adage discusses some recent consumer market attack ads and their relative successes.

Source: KQED

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Reclaimer is wrong
By InsGadget on 3/4/2013 3:56:09 PM , Rating: 1
MS does not scan your emails for ads. They scan them to provide other services to the user, but not for ads.

Facts are good. Especially the true kind.

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By Reclaimer77 on 3/4/2013 5:40:19 PM , Rating: 5
I thought the issue was user privacy? Whether MS is scanning your emails for add revenue, or for "services" revenue, the argument of hypocrisy against Google doesn't change. Microsoft is doing the same thing as Google, which was my point.

Either you've missed the point entirely, or you're arguing semantics.

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By Nekrik on 3/4/2013 6:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
What he is refuting is your comment that "Microsoft is doing the same thing as Google...". They are not doing so in the same manner and the data they do collect they are not using in the same way. Your assertion of "Microsoft is doing the same thing as Google" is conjecture (at least I believe that is their point).

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By schmandel on 3/4/2013 10:22:43 PM , Rating: 2
Seems like splitting hairs. If you let a service provider host your data without a contractually enforceable confidentiality agreement, you should expect that this data will be used six ways from Sunday.

I'm not surprised MSFT pulled the campaign, it came off pretty lame and more than a little whiny as well. The first time I saw it was in a doctor's waiting room and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of heckling it drew, everyone in the room shared a moment of agreement regarding a common annoyance.

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By InsGadget on 3/4/2013 11:34:09 PM , Rating: 1
No I got your point. It was wrong, in that MS does not provide targeted ads based on email content. They scan emails to help the user.

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By MadMan007 on 3/5/2013 7:00:28 AM , Rating: 2
One could argue that targeted ads versus generic ads also help the user.

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By Reclaimer77 on 3/5/2013 9:42:14 AM , Rating: 3
Help the user? So let me get this straight, Google is wrong and evil for scanning mail data to make add revenue. But Microsoft is benevolent and "helpful" when they make revenue by steering you to certain services?

This is absurd, it's beyond splitting hairs! The point is both companies are providing "free" services by scanning your mails to make a profit. You keep saying you get my point, but I still don't think you do.

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By InsGadget on 3/5/2013 2:56:19 PM , Rating: 2
I never said Google's practice of targeting ads was wrong or evil. I merely pointed out that your contention that both MS and Google were doing exactly the same thing is wrong. I did not give an opinion on if either company's approach is right or wrong. Just that your facts were not true.

Once again, not giving an opinion here, just giving facts. If you want my opinion, I don't think this is a big deal. And MS does not "steer you to certain services". The services I mentioned are helpful things that both Google and MS provide.

"All email services scan your email. They do this routinely to provide such popular features as spam filtering, virus detection, search, spellchecking, forwarding, auto-responding, flagging urgent messages, converting incoming email into mobile phone text messages, automatic saving and sorting into folders, converting text URLs to clickable links, and reading messages to the blind."

Google provides these services as well as MS, but then they go the extra step of scanning the emails for targeted ads. Do I think this is wrong? Not necessarily. I use gmail and I've never had a problem with this practice.

I was merely saying that your quoted text in the article was wrong, and is wrong. You may think I'm splitting hairs and that may be annoying to you, but it annoys me when people throw "facts" around on the internet that aren't in fact true. I like truth, so I can make honest opinions that aren't biased.

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By InsGadget on 3/5/2013 3:11:53 PM , Rating: 2
I would like to point that there is one practice of Google's that I'm not a fan of. Google allows online sellers to pay for a higher position for certain search terms in Google's Shopping service. Bing does not allow this, and I have noticed more helpful shopping searches as a result with Bing vs. Google.

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By Reclaimer77 on 3/5/2013 6:07:02 PM , Rating: 2
Again, just to be clear, you're less interested in the context of this issue, and more about nitpicking for "factual" reasons. Which have no bearing on the actual conflict between Google and MS.

Reclaimer isn't "wrong", you've just moved the goalposts.

I merely pointed out that your contention that both MS and Google were doing exactly the same thing is wrong.

Wrong. They ARE! They are both scanning your data to provide you with something, in order to make profits. I can't put it any more simply than that.

Get it or go away, either way I'm done with this semantic drivel.

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By InsGadget on 3/5/2013 10:07:42 PM , Rating: 2
I care about facts. Sorry if that offends you.

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By Trisped on 3/5/2013 3:37:54 PM , Rating: 2
They scan emails to help the user.
Either scanning is bad or it isn't, you and Microsoft cannot have it both ways. Oh and yeah, Microsoft scans emails to target ads, just not with their Outlook email service.

RE: Reclaimer is wrong
By Trisped on 3/5/2013 3:35:12 PM , Rating: 3
I have caught Microsoft scanning my emails to deliver ads.

It does not take much to realize that you were not getting any "insert ad type here" ads until you started getting email from "insert ad type here" company.

The important facts are not that they scan my emails, it is how they do it (key word collections) and if they slam other for doing it. I do not know what process Microsoft uses to scan my emails, but I do know that they do it and they slam Google for doing it. Google, on the other hand, clearly indicates how they scan (key word collections). Do I care how many times the word "Cat" or "Android" shows up in my email?

So yes, facts are good, but some facts are more important then others, like the fact that Microsoft's new Outlook email service is different then their Hotmail service which would scan your emails, and the fact that Microsoft's new Outlook email service looks a lot like Gmail (color pallet).
Oh, and there is that pesky fact that a fact must be true to be a fact (by definition).

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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