searchperks-logo Today, Microsoft announced SearchPerks, a new program aimed at trying to increase their search engine market share.  And while they aren't actually "buying" your searches, they are rewarding you with some "prizes" from points (or tickets) you accumulate by making searches.  But after an analysis of what they are actually paying you, you may be surprised at how cheap you work for.

So, here's how it works:

  1. You get 500 tickets just by signing up and downloading the Perk Counter for Windows.
  2. You start searching using Live Search at Live.com and MSN.com (or on Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger).
  3. For every search (up to 25 per day), you'll earn a ticket towards prizes.
  4. Additional ways to earn tickets will be available once you join the promotion.
  5. You can redeem your tickets for prizes when the promotion ends on April 15, 2009

That is how it works, here's the limitations:

  1. Join the program before December 31, 2008.
  2. Read and accept the Terms and Conditions.
  3. Use Internet Explorer 6 or above to do your searches under Windows XP or Vista.
  4. Download and run the Perk Counter software while doing your searches.
  5. Remain in the program until the end date of April 15, 2009.

Sounds easy?  Check out the fine print though...

Use IE 6 for your searches

Now, this isn't too big a deal but it will require a bunch of us who do not use IE 6 as a primary browser to switch for a while.  This may be a deal breaker for some but good move by Microsoft to try to lure those users they've lost over time.

Download and run the Perk Counter Software

This is where it's get's a little sketchy.  Under the FAQ, the Perk Counter must be running and in the background does the following:

  • Counts the number of web searches you do each day on different search engines.
  • Counts the type of searches you complete, such as news, images, or shopping.
  • Counts the number of online ads you click on.
  • Catalogs the different search toolbars you have installed.
  • It will send the search data it accumulates on a daily basis to Microsoft and will retry until it's successfully sent.

Remain in the program until April 15, 2009.

This is where it get's fuzzy.  What does "remain in the program mean"?  Does this mean that you'll need to keep the Perk Counter software installed and running?  If so, then they've got at least 6 months of search data on you if you want to claim your prizes.

Is it worth it and will it work?

I personally think that there are two types of users here.  The first ones are the ones that already use IE and Live Search and will search just like they always have.  The rest will join and do 25 searches first thing in the morning to get their daily allotment of tickets and then switch back to FireFox, Chrome, or whatever their browser of choice is.

The Prizes are nice and all but are they worth you giving up your search patterns to Microsoft?  They think so from their side.  Here's what you can get for your daily 25 clicks.

  • 10 days - 100 Frequent Flyer Miles
  • 39 days - Journal and Pen
  • 40 days - 500 Frequent Flyer Miles
  • 72 days - 1000 Frequent Flyer Miles
  • 88 days - First Aid Kit
  • 120 days - Digital Timer
  • 160 days - IntelliMouse Explorer
  • 172 days - 2500 Frequent Flyer Miles
  • 198 days - Project Gotham 4, Gears of War or Forza 2 for XBox 360

Return on Investment

50_states_quarter_obv_largeAlso, don't think you are going to clear house by joining in on this promotion.  Since the promotion ends on April 15th, at max, you'll have 7 months which will equate to roughly 5000 tickets.  So, don't get your heart set on both PG4 and Gears of War - that ain't gonna happen.

Oh, and let's look at what they are actually paying you.  For example, I'll pick that XBox 360 prize for 198 days of clicking.  Let say a single search takes 15 seconds of your time (conservative number).  Then you are using 6 minutes a day for the 198 days.  That's 1188 minutes or 19.8 hours of your time.  So, for a $40 game (street price, not theirs), they will be paying you $2/hour.  Now, if we go by a more realistic cost on their part of $5 for the game.  That brings it down to a whopping $.25 / hour!

($5) / (((4950 clicks / 25 clicks/day) * (6 minutes/day)) / (60 minutes/hour)) = $0.25/hour

Is your time, and personal information, worth $0.25/hour?  Microsoft thinks so.  Me?  I'm not so sure.

-Joe