Facebook and Bing search deal puts friends above facts

17 May 2011

Microsoft’s ‘decisions engine’ Bing has revealed tighter integration with social network Facebook. It says because 90pc of people seek advice from family and friends it is going to incorporate this logic into its search results with all kinds of potential ramifications for online advertising.

News that Bing, Microsoft’s search engine rival to Google that differentiates itself by the moniker ‘decision engine’, is going to employ Facebook results in its searches, is an opportunity for Facebook to overcome its growing rivalry with Google and for Microsoft to continue to capture search engine and online advertising market share.

“Bing and Facebook are making a bet – one that will marry the logic of search, with the recommendations and opinions of your social network and the masses – to extend search beyond just fact-based decision making, to decisions that are made with the power of people AND search,” said Yusef Mehdi, corporate vice president at Microsoft.

You can tell Microsoft and Facebook have been working on this some time and beyond a search that employs recommendations from friends, it includes deeper integration such as mapping, Facebook ‘Likes’ appearing in search results, shared shopping lists and flight deals.

“We designed a new way to experience search, focusing on great design, task completion, instant answers, and vertical categories like shopping and travel to help you make decisions faster. While we’ve made great strides in these areas, there is a huge opportunity for improvement,” Mehdi said.

Bing and Facebook – finding the wisdom in a crowd?

“Today, search remains largely driven by facts and links – we think it’s time to change that,” Mehdi continued.

According to the Bing team 90pc of people seek advice from family and friends as part of the decision making process and often outweights other facts because people feel more confident, smarter and safer with the wisdom of a trusted circle of family and friends.

“Historically, search hasn’t incorporated this “Friend Effect” – and 80pc of people will delay making a decision until they can get a friend’s stamp of approval. This decision delay, or period of time it takes to hunt down a friend for advice, can last anywhere from a few minutes to days, whether you’re waiting for a call back, text, email or tweet.

“Today, Bing is bringing the collective IQ of the Web together with the opinions of the people you trust most, to bring the “Friend Effect” to search. Starting today, you can receive personalised search results based on the opinions of your friends by simply signing into Facebook.”

These new features will make it easier to see what your Facebook friends “like” across the Web, incorporate the collective know-how of the web into your search results, and begin adding a more conversational aspect to your searches.

“Decisions can now be made with more than facts, now the opinions of your trusted friends and the collective wisdom of the web,” Mehdi said.

Summary of new Facebook and Bing integration features


Liked” Results, Answers & Sites

Instantly see which stories, content and sites your Facebook friends have “liked,” from news stories, celebrities, movies, bands, brands and more. With the “thumbs up” from your friends you can jump right to the stuff that matters the most to you.

Personalised Results

Bing will surface results, which may typically have been on page three or four, higher in its results based on stuff your friends have liked. And, how often do you go beyond page one of the results?

Collective IQ.

Bing now brings the collective IQ of people to decision making, when your friends don’t have the right expertise or you’re not sure what you’re looking for. Input from the collective IQ can enable search to become a discovery tool, allowing you to benefit from the connections, inferences and “likes” of it.

Popular Sites

Bing shows well-liked content, including trending topics, articles and Facebook fan pages, from sites across the web, to help you dig in and quickly find exactly what you’re looking for.

Integration of Social Messages

Bing not only shows you what your friends like and share online, but also what major brands and companies are saying. For example, when you search for Avis, the answer on Bing will integrate any recent Facebook posts alerting you to a new deal.

Expanded Facebook Profile Search

Bing will provide a more in-depth bio snapshot, such as location, education, and employment details to help you find who you’re looking for more quickly.

Shared Shopping Lists

Users can build a shopping list and share, compare and discuss it with friends on Facebook such as finding the best prices, to getting reviews from people you know and trust, or simply asking if something is “you” or not

Flight Deals

If you’ve liked a city, Bing will send great deals on flights directly to your Facebook feed. Search for flights on Bing Travel, and if you “like” what you see, Bing will notify you of any flight deals from that city.

Travel Wish List & Friends Who Live Here

The Bing Travel Wish List allows you to compare trips with friends on Facebook, suggest new destinations, and learn more about a location on Bing Travel. Once you’ve decided on a place, Bing will show you which of your Facebook friends live or have lived in that city, so you know exactly who to go to for travel tips.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years