A Few More Thoughts on Microsoft’s Bing, as Told to the Press

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(Image via NYPost.com)

Yesterday I shared some somewhat random thoughts on Microsoft’s new search engine Bing (see the post on The Bing Bang). A lot of these thoughts came up in conversations with the press, some of which were going on while I was still trying to access the latest demos Microsoft was uploading.

Here’s a roundup of a few different thoughts that I shared with the media, in case you’re following this story as well. I’m not sure how well this is going to do for Microsoft’s market share, and the odds are clearly against them as Google’s track record has shown, but everything I’ve seen so far indicates that this is a smart, ambitious effort from Microsoft and they’re putting the consumer experience first.

The press tour:

NY Post: Bing is the Thing

“Even if they really believed this was the Google killer, I think they know enough not to say so,” said David Berkowitz, director of emerging media and client strategy for 360i, a digital marketing agency. “That’s always the kiss of death for any new search engine.”

I just Googled “google killer” (with quotes) and the first page of results includes several mentions of Wolfram Alpha, plus nods to Cuil, Twitter (yes, really), and even Bing. The comparisons are generally overblown, but it’s interesting to see who makes the connection. With Cuil, the founders themselves were guilty of the hype (I blogged about their launch when they made a fuss about having the biggest index). Wolfram Alpha’s founder keeps dismissing it (I covered this previously with some not-so-gratuitous Monty Python references). The Twitter comparison is generally made by journalists latching on to a hot trend (guilty: I wrote about why Google needs Twitter Search). As for Bing, Microsoft’s in a tough place because they’re trying to say how huge this is without setting expectations so high that they’ll eat their hats later.

MediaPost: Microsoft Faces Bing Challenge

Video and image search has been the most impressive improvements. The ability to hover over an image or link to see the content on the connected page will prove valuable. “Microsoft is doing a lot to show improvements in multimedia,” says David Berkowitz, director of emerging media and client strategy at 360i. “This is where you will see the most notable changes and clear-cut difference.” …

As for the advertising campaign promised to roll out with the new search engine, Berkowitz says, Microsoft will need to do a lot to get consumers excited. The company has seen a couple of hits and misses lately. The Jerry Seinfeld campaign had a lot of people scratching their heads. The price-conscious PC vs. Mac ads demonstrate more finesse.

If you take a close look at the demo reel on decisionengine.com, you’ll see the multimedia results are going in some new directions. Can’t wait to spend some time with that, and video/image search is only getting bigger.

Mediaweek: Microsoft Search Leads to Bing 

David Berkowitz, director of emerging media and client strategy at 360i, is impressed with what he’s seen so far with Bing. “I’m still waiting for the full picture, but this is easily Microsoft’s best search experience to date,” he said. “This is a very serious upgrade.”

Still, Berkowitz injected some caution: “This is what most people have been waiting for from Microsoft for years. But now Google is only more entrenched. For Bing, the presentation is the most obvious change. I’m very curious to see how much more relevant its results are. Relevance is something that you notice only when its not there.”

Microsoft’s marketing plan for Bing — estimated at $100 million — may be just as crucial as the product itself, since most Web users don’t seem as dissatisfied with Google’s ability to deliver relevant results as Microsoft might think.

“I’m wondering how much the average consumer is going to be able to tell this is something different,” Berkowitz said. “The ads need to communicate that. If you look at the growth of Google, people only keep relying on it more. If it really stunk, Google wouldn’t be in the position they’re in.”

I’ll let that speak for itself. Microsoft just sent me preview access for Bing, so it’s time to use the real thing. More to come…

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