Bing is bringing back a reward programs, despite recently ditching the Bing cashback program. Bing Rewards is an airmiles type scheme, that aims to rewards users with points that can be spent on for using Bing to discover the web. And just like airmiles, your points are non-transferable and locked into a network of partners. In this case, to be eligible you must install the Bing Bar and sign in with a Windows Live ID.
The aim of the 'preview' launched today is to start a dialogue with users on improving the rewards program and Bing itself. Regarding the program a Microsoft spokesperson told us:
"Through Bing Rewards, we hope our consumers will discover new features and ways Bing can help them make faster, more informed decisions while earning credits that can be redeemed for great rewards.
People can sign up for the program for free at www.bing.com/rewards, and begin earning credits today. The program is launching as a Preview, during which time we'll collect feedback from our users to help shape the future direction of the program. In fact, providing feedback will be just another way that users can earn credits that can be redeemed for great rewards. For more information please visit the Bing blog"
The hidden catch to installing the Bing Bar and signing up for a Windows Live ID is that you must also be using IE on a Windows PC.
Chrome and Macs are out - which rules me out. It's also only available in the USA.
Furthermore the prizes leave somewhat to be desired. You can earn 250 credits just for signing up today, which could immediately be spent on a $2 dollar donation to a selection of charities or you can save up for... frankly, a lousy array of items you might find in a gas station. Among the offers is a chopping board, some airmiles, a selection of 2 DVDs and just one Xbox 360 game - that last irresistible prize being the only reminder not to party like it's 1999.
The most noteworthy reward in the program is Microsoft Points, which can be used on Xbox Live and Zune, and so offers the merest hint that a virtual goods strategy could be in the pipeline. Distinctly missing is Facebook Credits (something way more exciting than a chopping board or wooden salad tongs), which one would have thought would be the obvious choice as:
- Bing is integrated into Facebook.
- Facebook users are savvy, loyal, and love giving feedback.
- Facebook Credits, Social Gaming is a massively growing market and extremely popular with Facebook users.
That said, Microsoft could get the last laugh with this new program as it's predecessor, Bing Cashback, was closed because it was a victim of it's own success.