Dom on MSN UK blog confirms that the experiment of pre-populating the search box didn't work so well. MSN did bagged a lot of negative comments for their marketing strategy. Moreover, they Dom clearly suggests that the statistics did not showed a positive result as well.
Dom in reply to someone writes:
about the experiment we ran where we pre-populated the search bar at the top of the page with an 'of the day' phrase such as 'Apprentice BBC' or 'Cricket World Cup'. Your comments on the initiative were pretty unequivocal - 'Every time I log in, 'The Apprentice BBC' is in my search box. Not very clever and very annoying… Just as bad as SPAM' said one user, whilst other critics used the phrases 'absolute disgrace' 'very annoying' and 'unwanted marketing' when describing the move. The negative feedback, combined with the click statistics which showed that the move wasn't working from a usage point of view, meant that we acted quickly and put an end to the experiment just a couple of days after it had begun. Without your valuable feedback we wouldn't have had such a clear picture about the effectiveness of the trial, so please don't hesitate in future to let us know when we take a wrong step. Hopefully any future ideas which we try will be better received!