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Friday, June 5, 2009

Are we searching or deciding? Does Microsoft's Bing do either well?

The large question that accompanied the launch of Microsoft's newest entry in the Search Engine marketplace is: are people searching or deciding? Dubbed a "Decision Engine" Bing is advertised as a new way to find what you are looking for. Are people looking on search engines to decide or are they searching for a conglomeration of results that will provide the facts they need for their research? I think the numbers and consumer response will decide that question.

As some of the initial thoughts are dwindling, the more long term opinions are starting to surface. Even the "haters" seem to be changing their tune after using Bing for a while. Does Bing still have its issues? Sure. Is it going to kill off Google? No. Despite an article by the New York Post suggesting otherwise. If I were Sergey I would have a top team trying to figure out what it was all about as well. Not because I was scared but because having additional competitive information keeps you at the forefront rather than scrambling later down the line.

So what exactly does Bing have for the average searcher? Well to start a $100 million ad budget for one. If you can't get people's attention with PR pay to get noticed, right? Will Microsoft's big spend mean big numbers for Bing? Well apparently it is at least having an initial impact of drawing people to try it out.

The question is: Is it mainly search marketers and tech geeks like myself that went to test the waters or is it consumers making a permanent switch? I would like to argue at this point in the game Bing does not have a huge portion of the switch over audience. The majority of searchers have either always used the Microsoft search product or are trying it out compared to the results they get with the other big 2. I am personally waiting for the 6 month honeymoon to be over and then look at the numbers and if possible the number of returning users that Bing posts, if they make it available.

For me it comes down to does Bing get me the results I need, whether they look pretty or not. If they can consistently deliver what I need in one shot without the need for adjusting my search string then I will make the switch but from my testing this has not been the case the pages presented in their algorithm don't match my expectations nearly as close as a search on Yahoo or Google. But make your own decision and I am going to continue to test until I can make an educated decision or can Bing do that for me since it is the decision engine? :)

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