Microsoft has begun layering into Bing search results from Facebook's social graph. It allows people who log into Bing through Facebook to search and find relevant pages based on "like" authority with help from a social algorithm layered on top. In other words, your friend's likes influence search results. That's according to Dave Williams, cofounder of search engine marketing agency 360i, and now founder and CEO of BLiNQ Media. He says that's quite different from feeding information into the search engine results based on information that friends share.
Microsoft and Facebook have begun to combine into Bing and Xbox Live entertainment platforms the network's social graph. Marketers may not realize -- or simply forgot -- that Bing, a Microsoft division, has access to one of the largest and most advanced research and development teams in the world, aside from Google, Intel, IBM, and Sun Microsystems.
Some search experts believe Bing's late start in search will continue to hold back the service. Others point to the medium where people start their day.
In the early days of the Internet, people began their day at AOL and portals, migrating to search engines, and now Facebook and social networks. Wedbush Securities released findings in January from a study after surveying 2,500 U.S. consumers 18 years and older about their use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. The findings suggest that Facebook continues to grow its membership at a 22% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR), passing 600 million members. Members average 7.5 hours per week on the site, up 15% in two months. More than 57% of members now log in daily, according to the Wedbush Securities report.
Long-term, Microsoft's social strategy could easily surpass Google's, given its $240 million equity stake in Facebook made in 2007. I agree with Wedbush Securities Analyst Lou Kerner, who believes social signals will increasingly become an important trigger for content on search, and time spent on Facebook will drive searches. We are slowly beginning to see the shift in traditional search share.
Data released from comScore Friday points to a rise in U.S. share for Bing and slight decline for Google. While Bing's share of searches in February 2011 rose to 13.6% from 13.1% sequentially and 11.2% from the prior year, Google's share of searches fell slightly to 65.4%, compared with 65.6% and 65.8%, respectively. Combined, Bing and Yahoo took 29.7% of searches, compared with 29.2% in January 2011 and 28.0% in February 2010.
Experian Hitwise also released U.S. search engine share for February 2011. Bing-powered searches rose 4%, sequentially, to 28.48% of U.S. searches in February. Google fell 2% sequentially to 66.69% in February 2011. Hitwise estimates that when it comes to search results, Yahoo Search and Bing achieved more than an 81% success rate last month, compared with Google at 65.80%.
Bing and Yahoo -- while an important strategy -- will not supplant Google, but it gives the two incremental market share, Williams agrees. Bing and Facebook will as the two roll out incremental services such as combining the social graph into Xbox Live, a move that will one day surprise advertisers.
Microsoft reported selling 535,000 units of the Xbox 360 in February, moving it ahead of the 454,000 Nintendo Wii units sold during the same month, according to NPD.