The secret doesn't reside in out-googling Google, but taking advantage of its innovative tools and tying the results to search marketing. Microsoft showed off its video talent in HTML5 last week in a rare display of animation on the Bing home search page. While company engineers showcase plenty of talent tied to the latest Web tools, their marketing initiative lacks incentive to connect advertising with search queries.
Some might consider the idea a little too commercial, but I can't help but wonder how long people linger on the home page watching clouds roll over mountains as the landscape changes from green to gold. And how much additional revenue that could generate.
Don't expect to see a video daily. Searchers will see it when the mood strikes designers. And the new video feature only works with HTML5-enabled browsers. As the managing editor for the Bing home page, Stephanie Horstmanshof focuses on making people feel at home. She said those running a search query should expect to feel as if they just walked through the front door.
Bing cost Microsoft $5.5 billion since its launch in 2009, although in return it gained a 14.7% share of the search market. About half comes from the Microsoft and Yahoo search deal. Adding ads to the Bing home page at the bottom of the screen could tip the revenue in Bing's favor.
How much would an ad on Bing's home page command, especially with a video exploring specific travel sites or places of interest? Recently, Bing released preliminary 2011 holiday travel predictions using a dataset that includes historic and future airfares, and search data to conduct predictive analysis.
The report suggests that domestic airfare fell 1.4% to $302 on average, and three- and four-star hotels will cost about the same price. The five-star hotels continue to decline 8% in price on average. Airfare from the U.S. into Asia and Europe rose 15% to $1,226 and 9% to $936, respectively.
There are tools that travelers with flexible schedules can use to find the best deals on airfare and hotel. They range from Bing Price Predictor to Hotel Rate Indicator to Flexible Search. Searchers also can use Google Flight Search, the travel tool that Google supports through data from the acquisition of ITA Software, but it doesn't provide information on premium fares, small cities and international destination.
Bing's home page offers the ability to "Like" the photo on Facebook, along with information on search features, options to view an "awww moment," and links to searches that are popular now. It does not provide direct search advertising -- which could become a revenue generator for Microsoft rather than a cost center.