The Fall Of Bing (Seasonal Release, That Is)

MG Siegler
Wednesday, December 2, 2009; 8:11 AM

We're here at Microsoft's San Francisco headquarters so they can show off what they're calling the "Bing Fall Release." Satya Nadella, Microsoft's Senior Vice President of the Online Services Division is leading this presentation.

Today's talk saw Microsoft focus on three key areas: Core search, mobile search, and their mapping. As you'd expect, Bing is pushing forward with regular search and mobile search, both with improvements in the core search functionality but also adding new ideas.

In terms of new ideas, the emphasis today was on Entity Cards and Task Pages. For example, when you do a search for a famous person on Bing now, you'll see their official picture and a link to their official website front and center in their Entity Card. And if that person is a famous musician there may be a link to click on to get your concert information. This would be a Task Page. In that regard, Microsoft says it's going to opposite way of Google and keeping people on Bing for a number of clicks to get information. Google's stance is to get people to the information they want in one click (presumably away from Google).

Another key new thing only previewed today is the way Bing with integrate Facebook and Twitter data (which Microsoft recently reached deals to get both). Aside from simply importing tweets and status updates in search results as you might expect, Microsoft is going to take a visual approach to showing that data as well. You could click on a Facebook users's picture and get more information about them in the right hand column, for example. They're still working on this, but it should be done soon.

The most interesting aspect of today's presentation was the things Microsoft is working on with Bing Maps. Their new Bing Maps Beta product is making it very clear where Microsoft is heading: A web powered by Silverlight. The new Maps product is visually very impressive, but it does require Silverlight, which of course, Microsoft is in charge of (but offers plug-ins for many browsers, including Safari on the Mac).

There were many questions as to why Microsoft simply wouldn't use AJAX like Google and others use for Maps? Microsoft's stance is that while they're not trying to spread their own "stack" (their own technologies), they are going to use what they think are the best ? in this case, Silverlight.

Microsoft also showed off a new Bing Maps app directory, with some cool new tools such as newspaper front page viewer, and a tweet on a map viewer using Twitter's new geolocation API.

Below find my live notes (paraphrased):

SN: How we're going to spend the next hour and a half or so is some knowledge and insight about what we've learned to far with Bing. Most of the time we'll spend showing you new stuff though. It's about the core search, the mobile effort, and our mapping.

A little over 6 months since we launched Bing in June. It's very early, there is no confusion as to where we still stand. long road ahead. We are up to 9.9% market share. Ever since Google launched no one has grown 5 months in a row, we have.And we have 48% unaided awareness now. We're one of the hottest new brands ¿ that's great news for us. But again, it's still very early and there's a long road ahead.The most exciting thing for us is the younger audience. Growth is coming 18-24 and 25-34 groups.In terms of search behavior, images are very important, and videos and shopping. About 15% of our searches are for images right now.50% of time spent on search engines is spent on sessions that are longer than 30 minutes. That's very interesting to us.60% of sessions include 4 queries or more. People are trying to do more with search now. It's not just a navigational task now. And that's growing.We have a notion of 'peoples' 'places' and 'things' many queries are pivots around these three key areas.Today we have two new interaction elements. Entity cards and task pages.

Derek Connell doing a demo of these new interaction elements.

The new card is in the main scan pattern. At the top of the page is the official image and a link to the official site.We surface intent with the card and carrying it out with the task page. This task page may have a way to buy tickets for a music act, for example.But this also works for places. We have an official site for Miami, along with a slideshow thumbnail. And we have a nice looking way to see the weather. And now flight deals too.And now "things." The newer Dublin release has emphasized video. Showing off a trailer of Paranormal. Lots of HD content coming in, trailers, music videos, etc.And we have lots of these entity cards for stores now. They do a search for Apple, funny.New deep financial intent page, pulls in all sorts of data.Cards of universities now, we have all the major ones. We have an admission task page.Also for medicine, entity cards for specific drugs, etc.All these have either gone out the past week or today.Today we're going to show what we're working on with Facebook and Twitter.With Facebook we took visual search and applied it to the Facebook data we have. It's a nice way to scan.You can see upcoming birthdays visually. You can click on them and on the left hand side is more information about them. We'll release this as soon as we iron out kinks.And now Twitter. Also a visual search gallery. You can visually see who tweets the most. You click through and off you go to Twitter.Are these people you follow? No, it's just for whole feed.

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