Microsoft launched Cashback on its old search engine, Live Search, in May 2008, when we called it a “desperate and brilliant move” to trade search revenue for market share. As it turned out, Cashback failed to do much to improve Live Search’s market share last year, but it did result in a significant increase in advertising revenue. Now that Bing is picking up some steam, CashBack may turn in to the traffic driver Microsoft originally envisioned.
To help drive more interest to Cashback, Microsoft launched a limited promotion on August 10th called Double Cashback, during which Microsoft would match the amount of the rebates being offered by retailers (e.g. if Nike normally offered a $10 discount rebate, the promotion would give them $20). That special turned out to be too successful — it drove so many sales that Microsoft wound up ending it three days early, after distributing the maximum amount of money Bing had allocated for the promotion.