Bing and Google are locked in a seemingly endless war for search supremacy. Many view this battle as already lost due to Google’s ubiquitous nature, dominance of the marketplace, and continual innovation in a variety of areas. Even with Bing’s growth earlier this year, it is normally viewed as a fledgling service.
Despite the skewed public view, the Microsoft-owned engine is not only holding its own, but continually implementing new features to attract more users on all fronts.
In the past several months, the search underdog has unleashed a variety of updates to appease search users, advertisers and retailers alike.
Let’s take a look at Bing’s latest offerings and see what’s relevant to your operation.
Earlier this month, Bing rolled out version 6.6 of its iOS application to bring an enhanced search experience to its consumers.
The alterations are noticeable from the moment users land on the homepage, where they can either swipe to the left or right to quickly access features; one direction will take participants to the camera mode while the other sends them to voice mode.
Additionally, Microsoft has added a music shortcut to make users more aware of Bing’s ability to search for songs and provide subtitles to videos. Also, as a little bonus, video searches will now auto-play videos with the audio off to give viewers a preview of what they are about to click.
On top of these enhancements, shopping searches have also gotten some attention — the new iOS app allows users to compare prices across various stores while browsing online. This new feature also integrates with Bing’s barcode scanner to allow shoppers to scan items in-store and compare online shops to make sure they get the best deal on the market.
But it isn’t just the consumer experience that Bing is looking to improve. There are new features for advertisers too.
Everyone knows that Google AdWords is one of the most popular advertising modalities on the Web today; and that “everyone” includes Bing. With such massive success, Microsoft couldn’t help but to take a page out of its competitor’s book to improve its own offerings.
First up is Bing’s announcement that it too will be supporting Expanded Text Ads, much as Google recently implemented. Instead of clinging to its old 25 – 71 character model, Bing will introduce a bolstered 60 – 80 character ad that will include two 30-character headlines and the option to incorporate two explanatory words after the URL. According to the company’s blog post, Bing is, “. . . working closely with our Bing Partners (including tool providers and API partners) to ensure that advertisers and their tools can be ready with full support of Expanded Text Ads before the end of summer 2016.”
That isn’t the only recent development for Bing’s ad department. Earlier this month, the company revealed that it is currently developing features that will allow for budgets to be shared across multiple campaigns. In the same fashion as Google AdWords, Bing will now help to reallocate funds to optimize ad campaigns for greater results. A blog post revealing the new feature states:
“Say you have a budget of $20 to be used uniformly between two campaigns every day. On a given day, Campaign A spends only $8 (of its $10 budget) because it got fewer impressions and clicks than usual. Using Shared Budget, if Campaign B is performing well Bing Ads will automatically allocate that unutilized $2 to Campaign B. This will increase the chances of that unutilized budget being used to send you more traffic.”
These two developments will be a massive help to those advertising with Bing, and will allow messages, and budgets, to be far more impactful. Even with all of these changes on the table, Bing has more surprises.
The Next Generation of Image Search
Bing has made many changes to its image search over the years. Last year, the Image Graph was enhanced with a curation algorithm and new search tools, among other modifications. This year, the company has continued to build upon these improvements with the help of merchant input for a better “search-to-shop” experience. Among other advancements mentioned in the company’s blog post, new shopping cart badges will be displayed as a signal for consumers to quickly access items through online storefronts. In Bing’s post, it is stated, “The badges indicate that we’ve been able to locate relevant shopping pages offering given items for sale. When you click on the thumbnail and scroll down (or just click on a link embedded in the badge), you will see image details along with links to pages where the item can be bought, and with related products links if available.”
This is a fantastic feature for consumers and retailers alike because it will make shopping easier for Bing users, and help to quickly move merchandise for merchants ranking in Bing’s image results for a given query. And in one of Bing’s most recent developments, there are benefits for anyone with news to share.
Bing News PubHub
As it is increasingly difficult to get content seen online, Bing is helping to propagate publisher’s newsworthy stories through the Bing News PubHub. The portal provides a way for media outlets to submit their news sites to Bing for consideration. Selected posts will be included in Bing news, which reaches massive numbers of Windows 10 users through Cortana, those using Bing apps on Android and iOS, Outlook users, and many more outlets.
To be considered, however, your site will be judged upon its newsworthiness, originality, readability and authority. For more details on submitting your site, check out Bing’s blog post.
Bing’s offerings to search users, advertisers and virtually everyone else are regularly expanding and improving. As a result, the engine’s user base has been growing. Not optimizing your efforts for Bing is a grave mistake — you are missing out on reaching millions upon millions of users while you fight for survival throughout the search frontier. Diversify your efforts and give your business the boost it needs by leveraging the tools that Bing is offering.
Does your business advertise on Bing? What is your favorite new feature the company recently rolled out?