By Dinesh Boaz
The novelty of Microsoft’s Bing search engine is starting to wear. Online experts and internet amateurs alike are wondering if the nuts and bolts of Microsoft’s new search engine — created to replace its Live Search engine — can earn a reputation beyond the new kid on the search engine block.
As it turns out, Bing just may be good enough to put a chink in Google’s armor, once thought impenetrable.
In terms of presentation, Bing is a winner. While the gateway to Google remains unadorned, Bing’s landing page is eye-catching and informative. Searchers are greeted with a vibrant, interactive image that changes daily. But style alone won’t earn market share — functionality and execution win more points than pure presentation.
Not your mother’s search engine
Bing is more than yesterday’s search engine, at least according to Microsoft’s branding efforts. It’s a user-friendly “decision engine” with a process engineered to streamline query and result. For basic web searches, most users will find little difference between Google and Bing. Some in the Google camp maintain that Google consistently delivers the most relevant results, but the extent of the advantage seems dependent on the subject matter of the search.
Meanwhile, Bing compensates with a novel feature that may lure even steadfast Googlers: the “Page Preview” function. This function allows users to peek at destination pages by simply rolling over given results, saving both time and clicks. The advanced elements are most apparent, for example, when shopping, arranging travel, finding local businesses or searching for medical information.
Bing goes for the one-up
The mythos of Google’s search supremacy persists in two areas. Google continues to outperform Bing as a utility for retrieving the latest and most up-to-date news. In addition, Google’s product review arena offers more dependable and reliable write-ups. However, Bing compiles both professional- and consumer-generated product reviews, which may appeal more to particular users.
In its quest to become a fixture in the search community, Microsoft also offers benefits to shoppers that Google has yet to incorporate.
Like Google, Bing has a shopping tab in its navigation bar, but the similarities end there. When users input a product name into Bing, the results appear as images, with ratings and prices for each item. By selecting a particular result, the shopper lands on a page with more information that’s conveniently broken down with individual tabs for user reviews, expert reviews and product details, as well as retailer availability and side-by-side price comparisons. Most distinctive is Bing’s “cashback” feature, with certain retailers offering fixed percentage discounts to shoppers arriving via the Bing gateway.
Dinesh Boaz is the managing director and founder of Direct Agents Interactive Advertising, a New York City-based interactive advertising agency. Reach Dinesh at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at twitter.com/DBoaz.