Search engine marketing remains a tough slog for Google competitors like Microsoft’s Bing, which, despite six straight quarters of market share gains, was still at just 13.9 percent as of March. Still, the only company in the space to achieve such a six-quarter streak before then had been Google.
Social search, geolocation and digital video are among the hot frontiers at companies seeking to improve our search experience. Adam Sohn (@adamsohn
), senior director of public and influencer relations for Microsoft Corporation, believes Bing can gain ground on Google in these areas of search, with his proof coming in the form of a growing list of partnerships between Bing and companies like Facebook, Yahoo and Research in Motion.
Adam sat down with “On the Record…Online,” the official podcast of the PRSA Digital Impact Conference in New York to discuss his keynote at the conference
, which was titled: "Bing: Does the World Need another Search Engine?"
1:50 Search industry changes reflect profound shifts in how people are using the web, with the usage pattern shifting from searches for websites using keywords to attempts to complete complex and personal tasks and projects, Sohn argues. More than typing in a single term to find a web site, searchers are looking to book travel, make purchases or research health conditions, for example, and in a more relevant way.
2:30 Search engine industry analysis reveals that one in four searches fails, in that the user is not able to easily accomplish what they set out to do. Search engines, to reach the next level, will need to successfully analyze the intent of the searcher to make the search meaningful.
2:50 Search sessions are now lasting longer than ever, with more than half running 30 minutes or more. That suggests two things to Bing: people are seeking to complete more complex tasks online and may be having a harder time doing so.
3:35 Google search continues to dominant the search industry, with the competition composed of would-be challengers like Bing seeking to steel market share.
4:10 Search industry evolution is proceeding apace as new forces like social networking and mobile input have an ever greater impact on search. Once upon a time, search consisted only of a bunch of web sites and algorithms to find them. Now vast amounts of information are flowing into the web each second from Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare … user- generated video via YouTube, Quora’s conversations among experts, and mobile aps where location matters.
5:00 Geolocation search is an important aspect for the future of search engines because, with your permission, search engine companies will soon be able to use where you are to empower your searches. Mobile phones generate sensor data that can make search algorithms smarter in their offerings. In a future scenario, search engines may see that you are searching for driving directions, combine that GPS data from your phone indicating that you are moving 65 miles per hour, and then surmise that you need driving directions and freeway routing. If you were at moving 2 miles per hour, the same search would ideally yield walking directions.
5:55 Social search and mapping represent other near-future advances in search, Sohn says. Say you are using a search engine to find a place with good pizza. The search engine would then layer social networking on top of mobile searching, giving you note only the closest restaurant as you move, but an idea of which of your friends have already checked in there. Sohn believes people will interact with search on a digital map canvas in many cases, as well through voice-activated search. Mobile and mapping will remain areas of focus for search design because of their explosive growth.
8:50 Search continues to grow, and Bing sees it accelerating further still as generations of young people continue to graduate from high school and college who have never searched for anything without using the web. Other segments continue to increase their increase their use. Bing recognizes that it is a lesser player, but it does reach 30 percent of the market on its own and in combination with Yahoo, its strategic partner.
13:05 Social media marketing is clearly as vital to search companies as many others. Bing has success with contests featuring user-generated content (who can come up with the best Bing jingle) as well a partnership where Bing users could gain credits with the Farmville social media game. Bing’s marketing team is constantly trying to predict the direction that the search engine industry will move in, and social search was a trend they spotted a while back. This has its most impact when you can spot a trend in technology and match that with marketing strategies that meet a customer need.
14:08 Facebook search is obviously an emerging force online, and Bing is poised to take advantage, having announced last October a partnership with the social networking giant. Bing has been working hard to take Facebook information and merge it into Bing. Again with the user in complete control, and seeing only things you’re friends want to show you, you would know have a social signal in your search results. Not only would do you see ten blue links in your search results, but also notes on which links your friends have ”liked” one of those ten. Such personal search results help you separate the wheat from the chaff. Social search will be a huge investment area for Bing, which is the only search engine with a Facebook deal. Bing expects to announce related news in the next few weeks.
About the Guest Host
), an independent consultant specializing in public relations for medical science and technical companies. After beginning his career as an editor for the Associated Press, Greg has since served as a public relations strategist for two international public relations firms and two university medical centers, and as a writer for institutions including Eastman Kodak and the National Academy of Sciences.
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