If you’ve run a search using Microsoft’s Bing lately, you likely noticed the tiles now included with dynamically rendered visual info from brands in the entertainment, local, travel and auto categories. It’s just one of the ways Microsoft is enhancing Bing to be more relevant to users.[more]
User queries trigger them to appear on the right side of the screen from one of 45 launch partners including IMDb, Yahoo Movies, Rotten Tomatoes, OpenTable, Yelp, CitySearch, Urban Spoon, Cheap Flights, YouTube, MTV, Last.fm, Rhapsody, Pandora, MSN and dozens more.
The tiles are interactive and click-through on a Pandora or Rhapsody tile brings up a song or checks the number of plays via Last.fm.
Bing Director Stefan Weitz commented that the tiles are “going to be pulling in metadata from those sites. … We know people actually are able to figure out the results they’re looking for if you append some kind of visual cue onto the page.”
The tiles enable users to “ingest third party content more successfully,” and “make it more discoverable,” Weitz adds.
BC spoke with Ben Kirshner, CEO of Elite SEM, who called it “an innovative move to add images to the organic results. But the most important innovations must come from the ranking results vs. making adjustments to the aesthetics of searches…if search results are poor but look fancy with these new tiles, people will be less inclined to use Bing.”
As for the economics involved, he says: “There are no economics involved. The Bing business model in terms of its Search Results Page is to earn revenue through sponsored results. These results are paid by the advertiser to Bing on a CPC basis. This program is fairly new and only available to select partners & categories.”
He also argues that they’re not so much intrusive as a value add to the search and/or social online experience:
“It creates an added value to consumers, who feel Bing as a search engine is more user-friendly, smart and reputable. Consumers are intrinsically drawn to visual references and respect and trust this type of added feature when looking for a product, whether it’s a Samsonite carry-on luggage, a trendy restaurant or even theater tickets.”
Watch for Yahoo to take a similar step, he adds:
“These new tiles are only applicable for natural search results. However, I just received news from our Yahoo/MSN rep that Bing/MSN/Yahoo will be bringing back a similar program in paid search ads that formerly existed on Yahoo – Yahoo Rich Ads – which mirrors what Bing is doing in natural search results combined with Google Site Links Program and other betas.”
Similar to Google’s rich snippets and Yahoo’s Search Monkey, Bing tiles are the latest ingredient in a richer mix evocative of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 interface with alerts on homescreen tiles updated real-time.
Add to the mix that Bing also now displays your friends’ Facebook likes in your search results, and it’s clear that while Google dominates, when it comes to search it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that Bing.