Bingo winners are selected by random times of day. The person who enters a legitimate Web search closest to the predetermined time will win. Only residents of the US are eligible.
Is This Legitimate?
Do You Need to Register to Win?
No. If you use Blingo to search, you'll receive a notice that you've won instead of search results. I spoke with Blingo managing community relations Jamie Diamond, and he said that if you win, you just need to specify an address where the prize can be sent. However, I imagine Uncle Sam will want to know about it if you win a car or other large prize.
Diamond also said that your chances of winning will not decrease as the search engine gains popularity, because the odds of winning are controlled by algorithm. He did not disclose exact chances of winning.
Diamond assured me that Blingo did not send spam or sell email lists to spammers if you do register your email address with them. When I asked if Blingo sent spam he said,
"The founders, the team, are sensitive to just that point. We're trying to keep it so you don't ever get any of that stuff, so it's just pure, clean. You get these Google search results, and then you occasionally win a prize."
This is a very clever bit of viral marketing. Blingo supplies "win with me" graphics to people registered with Blingo, so they can post links to Blingo on their blogs, websites, and emails. What's even better than winning because you searched at the right time? Winning because someone else was searching at the right time.
How Is Blingo Related to Google?
Jamie Diamond referred to Blingo as a "Google partner." He clarified that this meant both the search results and the ads came from Google. Both Blingo and Google get a partial share of the ad revenue, and Blingo uses part this money to fund prizes.
Is Blingo a Good Search Engine?
This is relative. The Web search results are powered by Google. You will not be able to search Google Maps, for instance. Some Google power searches such as Google's hidden dictionary do not work. Other Web search functions, such as wildcards do work.
Blingo image searches are powered by Picsearch, not by Google.
Should I Use Blingo?
Only the first ten searches you do per day count towards your chances of winning, so Blingo is just a regular search engine after that, with a slightly annoying ticker on the right-hand side showing recent winners.
You can only win two prizes per calendar month, according to the Blingo Web site, whether you win them on your own or through Blingo Friends. Nonsense searches or searching for the same word over and over are also excluded from winning.
Be aware that there may also be some tax implications for winning prizes from Blingo or any other sweepstakes. Consult with a tax expert for more specific information.
Even if you're not a fan of using Blingo yourself, you could certainly try to persuade your friends to sign up with Blingo Friends and hope that they win for you.
I did confirm with Diamond that Blingo will award two cars or two big screen TVs to Blingo Friends users. Make sure you and your friends follow the Blingo Friends guidelines carefully, so that you do get credit for their wins.
The Bottom Line
Simplicity isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, this simplicity also means that there's no hidden dictionary, no hidden calculator, no translator, and no safe searching options.
Your results are no better than searching with Google, and with so many options missing, your results could actually be worse. The only added value Blingo brings is prizes, but that doesn't mean it's not a great added value. If you don't use any of the extra Google features, and you are only searching for Web sites, you can't really tell the difference.
Search with Blingo if you want to win prizes, but search with Google if you need the best search results.