DON GONYEA, host:
Microsoft is pulling the plug today on a program that essentially paid people to use its Bing search engine.
NPR's Asma Khalid tells us why the program didn't stick.
ASMA KHALID: More than a thousand companies took part in the Bing Cashback Program. The way it worked was if shoppers went through Bing to the merchant sites and then bought things, they'd receive a portion of the money back -sometimes up to 30 percent.
Mr. GREG RUSSELL (IT Manager): I've purchased like, my contact lenses through them; various electronic purchases; and my savings have totaled, in cash back, over a thousand dollars through Bing.
KHALID: Greg Russell is an IT manager in Las Vegas, and one of the many online bargain hunters who took advantage of the program. The idea was aimed at attracting new users to Microsoft's search engine. But it may not have worked out that way.
Tushar Bajaj, from Texas, is another online shopper who loved Bing cash back.
Mr. TUSHAR BAJAJ: If I don't have an incentive to use Bing anymore with this program being taken away, then I would rather just go back to Google.
KHALID: The problem for Microsoft is, we're creatures of habit.
Ina Fried is a senior writer for CNET.
Mr. INA FRIED (Senior Writer, CNET): Even with me, they face the same hurdle they face with other people, which is, by the time I even think which search engine am I going to use, I've already typed G-O-O-G. So, I mean, that's the behavior, that sort of hardwired behavior that Microsoft has to have us all unlearn if Bing is going to be successful.
KHALID: Microsoft would not say how many people used the program, or how much money was paid out. The company only stated, quote: We did not see the broad adoption we had hoped for, end quote.
But Bing is gaining followers. It's gained a few points in market share. According to the online data research firm Experian Hitwise, Bing almost has 10 percent of the search market. By comparison, Google has 71 percent.
Asma Khalid, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.