Tuesday, July 8, 2008

ninemsn Secret Search - Seek and you Shall Win

A lot of talk around ninemsn’s Secret Search, the latest promotion to encourage usage of Live Search, offering instant win prizes just for completing a search. Credit for the execution, it looks clean, consistent, nice use of poker-style prize reveal.

If the objective of such a promotion is user trial, then this will work. The problem however, rewarding users for ‘searching’, as opposed to ‘finding’, is fundamentally wrong in the context of a search engine. It needs to be about task completion, adoption and loyalty. The focus is wrong - it’s the results that are important.

It's about providing the most relevant results, more relevant than the competition, and it is in this area they still have a long way to go. For example, typing ‘jobs’ into ninemsn secret search, the top 3 local players (SEEK, careerone and mycareer) are positioned 4th, 8th and 10th. In Google they’re 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

Yep, it’s going to boost search numbers during the promotion, you only need to look over at Whirlpool to see what users are doing to try and win - “150 cracks and got nothing.”

But as an alternative perhaps ninemsn should focus on those users that completed a successful Live Search, re-target them next time they use their search engine and reward them for their loyalty.

Even better, for each millisecond Live Search shave off the time it takes the average user to find a result, the jackpot goes up. Focus on the improving the product, improving the user experience, and everyone’s a winner.