Tag Archives | Microsoft Bing

Bing Search Results Get Liked, Google Should Get Jealous

As Google and Facebook quibble over user data, the relationship between Facebook and Microsoft is only getting cozier.

Since December, Bing has been using Facebook “Likes” to deliver separate results from its main search algorithm. Starting today, Bing is expanding Likes to its algorithmic search results, so every link has the potential to get a nod of approval from your friends.

At a time when search is under fire for being spammy — especially for consumer needs such as product reviews and travel information — the infusion of personal recommendations seems like an antidote. Bing is getting a big boost here by tapping into Facebook’s massive word-of-mouth database — something that Google may never get.

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Bing Gets Tiles, Sorta

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley has a funny way of referring to Microsoft’s new interface fascination: “Tiles gone wild.”

The latest example is Bing, which is rolling out rectangular widgets from partnering websites to appear in certain queries. Searching for a movie, for instance, brings up user ratings from IMDB and reviews from Rotten Tomatoes in little boxes next to their respective search results.

And yes, Microsoft is referring to these widgets as “Tiles,” the same terminology the company uses to describe part of Windows Phone 7’s interface.

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More on Make-My-Baby.com

Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan does great legwork on the Make-My-Baby.com story I wrote about earlier today: Facebook says the company isn’t its third largest advertiser (and in fact was never an advertiser), and Bing says it’s terminating its affiliate relationship.

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A Facebook Advertiser That's Bad News

[UPDATE: Facebook says Ad Age had it wrong and Make-My-Baby.com wasn’t a Facebook advertiser at all.]

Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb has a post this morning that left me with a chilling sense of deja vu. It’s about a Facebook advertiser named Make-My-Baby.com–according to an Advertising Age story, Facebook’s third-largest advertiser–which has a silly little site that lets you dress up a baby. The site requires you to install a browser plug-in; the plug-in changes your home page and search engine to Bing. From then on, Microsoft gives the Make-My-Baby people a bounty when you click on a search ad in Bing. (Kirkpatrick is reporting on discoveries made by Google’s Matt Cutts.)

It’s all eerily reminiscent of ugly practices of the early-to-mid-2000s in which advertising companies and their partners used a number of practices to install software that pelted PC users with pop-ups and otherwise fouled up their computers. Here’s a 2005 story we did at PC World on the topic.

For the most part, the companies involved in the earlier round of cheesy PC invasions got what was coming to them. The PCW story discusses DirectRevenue, 180Solutions, and WhenU; the first two companies are out of business, and WhenU’s site now leads to information on how to uninstall its software. I wonder how Facebook and Bing will handle the news of this business partner’s behavior?

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Bing Maps’ New Beta: Interesting, Promising, Erratic

At a press event in San Francisco this morning, Microsoft demonstrated recent, brand-new, and upcoming features it’s adding to its Bing search engine. The big news: The company is launching a beta of a major upgrade to Bing Maps. The beta is available here–and for the sake of comparison, here’s the existing version of Bing Maps, which remains the default.

From my experience so far, the new Bing Maps may be a true beta in the “we’re still working on making it work” sense: It sometimes performed very slowly, or conked out altogether. (Disclosure: I’m trying it on an EVDO connection, which probably doesn’t help.) The new version requires Microsoft’s SilverLight browser plug-in to work, which will be a source of controversy: There are folks who dislike plug-ins in general, and some who have a particular distaste for SilverLight. And since SilverLight is far from universal, there’s a good chance you’ll need to install it before you can test-drive the new Bing Maps.

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Will Microsoft Pay Murdoch to Opt Out of Google?

It’s just a rumor, but a fascinating one: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is supposedly talking to Microsoft about some sort of deal that would involve Microsoft giving News Corp. a boatload of cash to block Google from indexing its news sites, so Microsoft’s Bing could step in and become News Corp.’s official search engine. I have no idea whether there’s any truth to it, but the idea plays into the  whole “Google should be paying content companies” meme that Murdoch and others have been pushing.

If Murdoch was to yank his news sites out of Google’s index, that would only leave…well, all of the world’s news sources except for those owned by Rupert Murdoch. You gotta think that the harm to Google would be minimal, and that the harm to Murdoch’s sites might be considerable. If most of the world uses Google to find stuff–and it does–don’t you want your stuff to be there? Or can you imagine saying to yourself “Hmmm, I want to make sure that the New York Post shows up in my search results–guess I’ll use Bing?”

As a consumer, the notion of search engines cutting deals with content companies to opt in or opt out of certain engines leaves me antsy. If the practice caught on, we’d be left with a scenario in which no search engine could aspire to be comprehensive, and we’d be stuck having to use several engines if we wanted to find everything of value.

Even so, I remain in the apparent small minority of pundits who would like to see Murdoch do something about the supposed relentless persecution of his poor, struggling business by a bullying, thieving Google. If that something involved an alliance with Microsoft, everybody involved would learn a lot, no?


Bing Search Gets Visual

Bing LogoHere at TechCrunch50, Microsoft search honcho Yusef Mehdi just announced Bing Visual Search, a new feature which is supposed to be going live any moment now at http://www.bing.com/visualsearch. (Actually, it seems to have gone live and then stopped working again, at least for me–and oops, now it’s working again. Sort of. Okay, now it’s broken again.)

It’s a pretty clever feature that displays results as thumbnail images of stuff–cameras, handbags, movies, U.S. presidents, athletes, dogs, and a whole lot more. The images fly into place, and if you refine your search (say, to cameras of a certain megapixel range) they rearrange themselves onscreen. It’s unquestionably an eye-catching effect and a fun way to discover information; it also helps reinforce part of Bing’s apparent strategy, which is to be a far splashier search engine than the intentionally plain-jane Google. And in cases when aesthetics are the overriding aspect of your search–such as with handbags–it might be the single best way to browse results.

Visual search is apparently only available for subjects that Microsoft has prepped for the service, but dozens are available and the company says it’s working on more.)

More thoughts on Visual Search once I can get it to work reliably for more than a moment or two at a time–for now, after the jump, a few fuzzy photos from the TechCrunch stage.

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Bing Ads Prompt Lawsuit

Advertising Age is reporting that a Delaware company is suing Microsoft’s ad agency over ads for Bing that were integrated into the TV show The Philanthropist. I’m not a big prime-time watcher, so this is the first I’ve heard of this:

Commercials for Bing were filmed on-set using actors from the show, which made its debut this summer and stars James Purefoy and Neve Campbell. The Bing-themed ads appeared between the TV programming and regular commercial breaks.

Still unclear: Why this idea is patentable in the first place, or how it’s fundamentally different from the ads that were deeply embedded into old radio shows–I mean, Jack Benny and pals not only discussed Jello every week, but the Benny program was named after the stuff.

[Full discloure: Bing is a Technologizer advertiser.]