Today, Microsoft officially launches its new Bing search product in the U.S., as it aims to claw back market share from Google and Yahoo, and capitalize on the resulting ad revenue opportunities.
Microsoft says its new ad offerings will "go beyond the blue links." The engine will integrate results from other Microsoft properties, such as shopping information from Ciao, and mapping content from Multimap, and offer display and cost-per-lead ad products in addition to keyword-driven sponsored search listings.
"From a user perspective, search is currently an explorative process. It involves constant refinement and trial and error, and this has pitfalls for advertisers. By helping users refine their intent, advertisers will benefit from better conversion, less wastage, and more engaged users," said Microsoft's U.K. AdCenter Marketing Manager Cedric Chambaz. "With Bing we're aiming to grow our share in search, and grow our share of advertiser wallet," he added.
For example, a search for shoes will return Web results, sponsored listings, and cost-per-lead driven shopping results on the same page. Likewise, searches for geographic destinations will return sponsored location listings within mapping information. In addition, Microsoft plans to offer demographic and geographic search targeting capabilities, alongside location specific content and results.
The new product aims to provide a richer, more engaging experience for users, bringing together results from a range of categories including shopping, travel, news, maps, video and images. The goal is to improve answers to customer queries, rather than simply returning a list of related sites.
Lack of search volume on MSN Search has frequently been cited by advertisers and agencies as a prohibitive factor when planning search campaigns, but Chambaz believes Bing will help turn that around. "The feedback we've had from agencies is fantastic. They're saying our traffic is some of the best, but they just want more of it. The Bing launch should tick that missing box," he said.
During Bing's two day "trial period" this week, the U.S.-facing homepage has featured imagery and links to information on European destinations including Turkey and the Netherlands. However, this content is not advertising, according to Microsoft, which has no plans to monetize the homepage. "We may re-evaluate, but we want to ensure it has the right user experience," Chambaz said.
Though Bing officially launches in the U.S. today, it remains in beta internationally. Microsoft hopes to launch outside of the U.S. within months, but definitely by the end of the year. To support the U.S. launch, an integrated campaign featuring a range of digital and traditional ad formats goes live this week, executed by WPP-owned agency JWT.
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Jack Marshall was a staff writer and stats editor for ClickZ News from 2007 until August 2011.
March 19, 2014