As Google continues to make waves with its new social network, Microsoft’s Bing is also looking to expand its own efforts to tap into the data of social networks.
Stefan Weitz, director of Bing, said that the advent of social search marks an exciting time in human history. Being able to run an idea or decision up the flagpole straight from a Web browser makes search more organic and human, he said.
“For the first time, we do online what we do in real life every day,” he said in an interview. “That’s been absent in search and it’s the dawn of the technology.”
Bing, of course, already has a well-known partnership with Facebook, which deepened in May when the network and the browser teamed up to add personal recommendations and sharing tools to Bing searches. For example, users can see links friends have liked on Facebook when they use Bing and are signed into the network. Weitz said these tools help users cut through the glut of information on the Web to make decisions the way they would in real life.
Weitz wasn’t sold on every feature in the integration, he said. He was skeptical about one Bing shopping feature that let users post a handful of products to Facebook to have their friends weigh in on a final decision. But their research has shown that feature is used — 80 percent of people will delay making a shopping decision until they can consult somebody else.
Bing’s aim is to combine the power of computers to sort data and the social power that a person’s friends have in their decision-making.
Moving on from social, Weitz said that Bing is also committed to incorporating more action into search by offering tools that let users do things instead of merely finding them.
He gave the example of a Bing search he did for Dodgers tickets that brought up not only a place to buy the tickets, but also options to see where in the stadium they were and what his view of the field would be.
Bing has about a 14 percent share of the market — 30 percent, with Yahoo — but Weitz said that while he’s happy to see Bing get higher numbers, he doesn’t think of the search market as a zero-sum game.
“If we’re successful, we’re making the pie bigger,” he said. “The growth part of search is in action, and we’re going to be the best with that.”
And what about that “whoops” splash page for Tulalip published to the Web? Just a research project that someone accidentally hit “publish” on, Weitz said.