August 18, 2009, 12:00 AM

Online shoppers flock to Bing’s double-cashback offer, Hitwise says

Visits to Bing Shopping rose 169% last week after Microsoft offered consumers double the usual rebate at participating online retailers, Hitwise says. Bing Shopping jumped to fourth from eighth place in June among a dozen comparison-shopping sites.

Microsoft Corp. grabbed consumers’ attention last week when it doubled the amount of cash a shopper can get back when purchasing through the Bing Cashback program tied to the shopping portal of Bing, Microsoft’s search engine.

Visits to Bing Shopping increased 169% last week after Microsoft offered consumers double the usual rebate at some of the online retailers that participate in Bing Cashback, says Hitwise, a unit of Experian that measures web traffic. Bing Shopping jumped to fourth from eighth place in June among a dozen comparison-shopping sites, says Hitwise, moving ahead of such sites as NexTag, Best-Price.com and Shop.com. Yahoo’s shopping portal, shopping.yahoo.com, attracted the most traffic both weeks, Hitwise says.

Microsoft introduced the double-cashback offer Aug. 10, and says it will run through August. Among the retailers participating are HP Direct, which is offering 15% cashback on purchases by consumers who come through Bing Shopping, Walmart.com (4-10%), OfficeMax (6-10%), BarnesandNoble.com (20%) and eBags.com (22-40%). Walmart.com is No. 13 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, OfficeMax No. 6, BarnesandNoble.com No. 41 and eBags.com No. 93.

Bing referred 18.32% of the traffic to Bing Shopping last week, and two-thirds of those consumers had not visited the shopping portal in the previous 30 days, Hitwise says. MSN.com provided 11.34% of the traffic, of which half were new shoppers. 5.86% of Bing Shopping visitors came from Google (75.01% new) and 3.54% were from Yahoo Search (68.41% new).

Microsoft launched Cashback in May 2008, when its search engine was called Live Search. Each of the more than 800 participating merchants sets its own discount amount. After a consumer makes a purchase from a participating online merchant, the Cashback percentage is put into an account and Microsoft will write a check to the shopper for the balance, usually 60 days after the purchase to ensure the product is not returned after the money is paid.

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