Have you checked out Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, lately? According to Kunal Das, a Microsoft Bing Evangelist, about 30 percent of all searches are now conducted using Bing. About half of Bing’s current market share is through the Bing site. The remaining half is a result of Bing’s partnership with Yahoo – Bing now serves up all of Yahoo’s search results.
Das was brought to Nashville to advocate for all things Bing by NAMA, the Nashville chapter of the American Marketing Association. While Das’ talk was a bit jumbled, his overall point was clear: Bing is trying to use data to improve the overall search experience. According to Das, the Bing team is focused on assisting searchers by focusing in three main areas: Tasks, Visual and Social.
When people use a search engine, they are usually trying to answer a question or complete a task. Bing’s first goal is to help people with accomplishing tasks. One of the best examples of this goal in action is the fare tracker/predictor technology Bing has embedded directly into the search engine.
If you type in “flights to New York,” Bing will produce a results page that offers up the best fares to New York from your home city (it reads your IP address to determine where you are). If you click on the link called Details and Fare History, you get a handy little window that gives you the fare history and a “Buy,” or “Wait” recommendation based on recent pricing trends. Bing’s tool even gives you a confidence measurement that rates the accuracy or strength of the recommendation.
Again, according to Das, Bing understands that 65 percent of people are visual learners. Therefore, Bing has tried to incorporate visuals into its overall search experience. Take our earlier example about traveling to New York. When you search for “New York,” Bing’s results serve up typical search information, but they also produce a small visual area that graphically showcases the city’s skyline and current weather. If you are using HTML 5, the map will also appear to “float” onto the screen – another visual goodie to enhance your overall search experience.
Of course most people are aware of the large visuals Bing places on its home page. These striking visuals are meant to introduce visitors to new places or things (I would assume the images are also meant to be a stark contrast to Google’s minimalist home page). Each image has hot spots where you can click to learn more information about the place or item being highlighted. Today’s image features a microscopic look at rather beautiful Christmas tree “worms” and the links take you to information about other types of tree worms. Das said that Microsoft is finding that teachers are now using the Bing home page as a unique way to kick off classes.
Like most of us, the people building Bing have realized that a few popular social platforms have wormed their way into our everyday lives. To help people get the most out of their search, Bing is working on ways to integrate social media into search results. For example, when Das was researching Nashville prior to his trip, Bing’s search results not only told Das about top tourist attractions, it also pointed his Facebook friends who listed Nashville as home. With this information, Das was able to send them a message prior to his arrival in Nashville.
While I can see that this sort of information could be helpful, it was yet another reminder of just how easy it is to pull data from social sites.
Just how much more market share Bing can wrestle away from Google is still up for debate. However, Das did convince me to take a second look at Bing. Perhaps you should too.