It’s been a year since Microsoft unveiled its new “Decision Engine,” Bing, amid a flurry of hype and speculation. Microsoft said the new engine was developed to help searchers navigate more easily through information online – an objective perhaps most vividly captured in the company’s slew of commercials poking fun at “search overload.”
Bing, which was fully rolled out on June 3, 2009, claimed to take a new approach to search through three simple goals (as articulated in the official release): deliver great results, deliver a more organized experience and facilitate fast, more confident decisions through search. Beyond that, Microsoft’s new engine sported a sleek design, with large, vibrant visuals extending across the homepage. Both inside and out, Bing was striving to be different.
As the year progressed, Microsoft made several large announcements that granted them significant attention among industry professionals and publications. These included the following milestones:
- July 2009: Microsoft and Yahoo team up for a much-anticipated search deal. Per the partnership, Microsoft acquires Yahoo’s search biz and licenses Bing’s search platform back to Yahoo. (Read 360i’s complete report for more information.)
- Sept. 2009: Bing and Ping launches to encourage people to share their searches.
- Oct. 2009: Bing debuts “Bing Twitter,” a service that aggregates Twitter chatter within the engine. This announcement was made shortly after All Things D reported that Microsoft had struck a deal with Twitter to allow real-time status updates to integrate within Bing search results.
- Dec. 2009: Bing debuts its free iPhone app.
- Feb. 2010: Bing inks another deal – this time with Facebook – that strengthens its real-time search capabilities (and drops Microsoft’s banner ads from the social networking site). The partnership included a more comprehensive Bing search experience on Facebook that would generate “rich answers” to help customers make smarter decisions.
- April 2010: Microsoft rolls out Bing Social Search, providing real-time social results to searchers within the engine.
- June 2010: Apple adds Bing as a search option on the new iPhone 4.0, though Google will remain the default search platform. Microsoft makes waves again at SMX Advanced, when it announces the addition of a new social site to the engine: Bing Social.
Which brings us to now. Though Bing has remained in the headlines – and increased its brand awareness through a vigorous PR & marketing campaign (*some* people now say “Bing it”) – it still has not captured the market share that many in the industry thought it would. Nielsen’s latest search market share numbers put Bing at just under 13 percent – trailing Google at 65.1 percent and Yahoo! at 13.5.
After falling in early 2010, this was Bing’s all-time highest figure, though it remains to be a formidable threat to Google’s dominance of the search market. In fact, Bing’s gains have been at the expense of Yahoo – not Google – which does little to help Microsoft’s cause.
Figures from 360i sister company SearchIgnite on ad spend seemed to parallel the consumer trends reported by Nielsen. A July 2009 SearchIgnite whitepaper showed advertiser spend on Microsoft remaining flat from Q1 to Q2. Microsoft’s share remained flat through Q3, though by SearchIgnite’s Q4 2009 report Bing had captured 1% share of spend from Yahoo.
A Wall Street Journal article published last week takes a closer look at how Microsoft hopes to expand Bing in the months and years beyond this first anniversary. In that article 360i CEO Bryan Wiener noted that the core challenge facing Bing and Yahoo is to “ramp up” the volume needed to emerge as a viable competitor to Google.
We look forward to seeing how Microsoft approaches this challenge. Stay tuned for more insights and updates right here on the blog.