Ronnie05's Blog

Revisiting the Bing Search Strategy

Posted in Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on August 5, 2011

Microsoft’s leadership knew years ago that becoming a real competitor to Google would take patience as well as dollars.Microsoft is trying to beat Google at a different game. As against Search which is a list of options that the engine provides. Microsoft Bing is trying to help in terms of helping user making decisions faster and easier – a concierge like service which is why the monicker: Decision Engine as against a Search Engine

Bing’s consumer strategy has been around changing the game in search, they mean making search smarter. Today’s search, primarily finds topics, or noun phrases — a person’s name, a city, a product, a disease and so on.Search is still essentially a Web site finder.But the future of search is verbs — computationally discerning user intent to give them the knowledge to complete tasks. There is so little context in current search, and what Microsoft is trying to do is present users with context and structure, more a map of the world of information instead of just ranking it, especially in specific subject areas like travel and health

The phrase that Microsoft uses is “decision engine,” as opposed to search engine. New classes of information will help. Social network data, where Microsoft has an exclusive partnership with Facebook, and in May it included a feature for linking the “Like” tags of a person’s Facebook friends to that person’s search results in Bing. It is a first step, in including trusted opinions in search — and not just the popular ones that conventional search.

Location data, especially from the growing share of searches on smartphones, offers another rich stream of information. Knowledge of the user, his past behavior, his social circle and his location can add another layer of context and knowledge to the search.

The ability to write increasingly responsive, full-featured applications for the Web — using the new HTML5 programming language — should also make search more intelligent.The goal, is to connect to personal data — location, choices, lifestyle, past usage and then connect to real life connects such as bookings, reservations, linking friends, information of events and more. Thus search transcends a passive information mine into ability of “doing” more around search. The upside for Microsoft are the opportunities around monetization.

In short, the vision here is of a search engine that is part intelligent software assistant and part mind reader.

In Bing, the most visible evidence of the decision-engine concept is the ability to aggregate and present specific kinds of information in a search result. Microsoft has invested in travel services which also leverages the “doing” around travel.

Advertisers have noticed Bing’s progress. Microsoft’s share of its corporate clients’ click volume from search ads has grown to 24 percent, from 14 percent, in the last nine months or so. Bing is clearly behind Google, but now it’s a scale player as well

The progression is from data to useful information to knowledge that answers questions people have or helps them do things. Knowledge is the quest. Focussing in depth on a product category and expanding/augmenting the segment is a formula that worked in the past for Microsoft in PC software, with Windows and Office. But whether that game plan will work against Google is uncertain at best.

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