Microsoft's search engine Bing might resemble a fast-moving train this year, as the search engine lines up a variety of product launches -- as many as one a week, depending on the country, Bing GM David Pann told MediaPost.
Bing will make a foray in click-to-call ads geared toward specific market segments in a few months, with help from the Windows mobile team. The product road map in the future leads to click-to-call video ads that will allow consumers to contact merchants through Skype technology, depending on the client installed on the phone.
Pann said Bing and Skype teams are working together to build call metering and phone-number generation features. Advertisers will have the ability to provision 800 numbers within Bing ads.
Microsoft, once known as a 1,000-pound gorilla impossible to move, has become an agile beast. An accelerated product release cycle underscores Pann's enthusiasm for a long list of new features and services. "We are probably releasing somewhere in the world one new capability weekly," he said, noting that the engineering team is "designing features and capabilities advertisers want."
The company continues to fine-tune the offering with a handful of large advertisers. Bing's product ads offering will launch this year and look similar to Google product listing ads. The plans to test Bing PLAs on mobile devices in specific vertical markets mean slightly different formats depending on the device, Pann said.
The change in thinking drove higher market share for Bing in 2012. The company experienced declines in 2011, but managed to grab paid-search ad share last year. In fact, marketers spent 54% more on Bing in 2012, on 39% higher click-volume growth and 11% higher cost per clicks, according to Rimm-Kaufman Group. In December, Microsoft Sites rose 0.1 percentage points to 16.3% organic search market share, according to comScore.
Bing Ads wants to enable in 15 minutes what takes 45 minutes in Google AdWords, making it easier to participate in the marketplace, Pann said. Today the platform allows marketers to upload campaigns from Google AdWords in a read-only format -- but in time, a Bing Ads feature will synchronize changes such as description, word or price. If the campaign changes in Bing Ads, marketers will have the option to alter the campaign in Google AdWords.
Pann also touched on the Yahoo and Bing search alliance, explaining that Microsoft's revenue per search guarantee payment to Yahoo ends in March. On a recent earnings call with analysts, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said the company remains excited and happy to work with Microsoft, but expects "modest headwind from the combined impact of anticipated loss of the Microsoft RPS guarantee and the closure of operations in Korea."