Traffic schmaffic. Bing now has Google's number - when it comes to Facebook "fans" at least.
Indeed, if part of Microsoft's plan when it recently signed FarmVille to MSN Games was to gain a bigger Facebook presence, then the deal proved to pay serious dividends over the course of just 19.5 hours this week.
From 12:40 p.m. on Tuesday to 8:11 a.m. on Wednesday, Bing ran a sponsored ad on the bottom right of FarmVille's main page. The ad copy stated that if the players became Facebook "fans" of the brand, they'd receive three units of "Farm Cash" - which is the popular Zynga game's virtual currency. Before the ad launched on Tuesday, Bing had 117,000 "fans." The next morning, the number had exploded to 539,000.
Its Facebook fans currently total 564,000, which puts Bing ahead of search rival Google's 524,000. Facebook metrics firm AppData shows that 28.7 million people played FarmVille on Tuesday. Therefore, 1 to 2 percent of players clicked through the ad to become fans of Bing.
Microsoft would only comment generally about the ad placement, but it's clear the campaign had more to do with influencing FarmVille's huge audience to use Bing search then with beating Google's fan count.
For instance, the sponsored ad, which was facilitated by SocialVibe's technology, employed the following copy: "Get fun FarmVille tips on Bing now!" And the Microsoft-owned brand has since attempted to convert "fans" into traffic at the search site.
On Wednesday, it authored the following Facebook post: "Any FarmVille fans out there? Try using Bing to get the most out of your crops and animals. We've got great results to help you make better decisions in FarmVille."
The last sentence appeared as a hyperlink to a search results page, where players could research the game to theoretically enhance their score. Six-hundred and eighty-two "fans" commented on the post, while more than 1,200 hit the "like" button.
According to the Microsoft spokesperson, "When thinking about how we get more people to experience Bing's unique ability to help make decisions, we recognized that we needed to utilize message channels in a variety of media. While our online and offline ad efforts are driving people to dive into Bing, we also wanted to reach an active online audience, and Facebook and Farmville provide a unique forum to drive awareness and trial."
Meanwhile, Google's traffic is still beating Bing by a score of 14 billion to 1.3 billion when it comes to search queries for January, according to research firm comScore.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
June 20, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT