Bing’s use of Facebook data in its search results is nothing new – in October last year the two companies announced that search results would draw on the “like” data of friends to personalize results, and then in February this year the two companies expanded the service to include more URLs – and now, in a blog post on Monday, Microsoft’s search engine announced plans to pay even more attention to what it calls the “Friend Effect”.
“Research tells us that 90% of people seek advice from family and friends as part of the decision making process,” the post says. As an example, the post describes how a film critic might rip apart the latest movie release, but that if a friend tells you it was one of the best movies they’ve seen in years, you’ll likely go and check it out for yourself (unless every movie your friend has recommended has turned out to be utter drivel).
Bing’s blog post explains how it is enhancing the features of its search engine to further incorporate Facebook data: “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.” In other words, while search results will be drawn from what your friends like, they will now also be made up of what those not in your immediate social circle like.
Also, things that have been liked by your friends or family will be prioritized more than before and consequently pushed up higher in search results. And, of course, you can contribute to building up the database by liking things, whether it be a restaurant, a book, a park, or even a movie that everyone else thinks is really terrible.
So what else is new with the enhancement of this Bing/Facebook love-in? Well, if you do something such as a city search, then besides all the results for that city, Bing will also list any of your Facebook friends that live there, enabling you to easily contact them to ask for advice (or perhaps a room for your entire stay). Then, if you like the city using Bing, it’ll send flight deals to your Facebook page.
If you’re thinking of buying a new laptop, you’ll probably turn to a search engine to help you. If you do it on Bing, from the results you can click on any of the products that interest you and it’ll be automatically added to your Facebook page. There, your friends can comment on whether they think it’s any good, helping you to arrive at an informed decision about whether to purchase it.
The move is the latest by Bing to try to wrestle some search engine traffic away from Google, which still commands the majority of the search market. Last week, however, a report by market metrics firm Comscore stated that Bing had made some modest gains in its share of search traffic, mostly at the expense of Google. Microsoft executives will be hoping the latest tweak to the company’s search engine will be enough to draw even more traffic away from Google. Of course, you will need a Facebook account to use all of Bing’s features – and be signed in to both.
While the relationship between Bing and Facebook is looking cosier by the minute, the gap between Google and Facebook is ever widening – last week it was revealed that Facebook had hired a PR firm to smear the search engine giant.