Bing relaunches with prettier design, improved social skills

Bing Facebook Search

Today, Google introduced Search Plus Your World. Wait no: Actually, Microsoft introduced more “personalized search results” in Bing using Facebook’s data, a move that looks an awful lot like the social network-enhanced search results Google announced in January.

Microsoft’s Bing is three years old and has for a long time lived the shadow of Google’s much more popular, older search engine. While the two companies’ search results are generally on par, Google remains the number one search engine in the US and abroad. Indeed, a recent study by comScore revealed that Google owns 66.2 of search engine market share in the US, with Bing only just slipping past Yahoo to claim a distant number two spot in February.

That same month, Bing teamed up with another Google adversary to try and capture some more attention: Facebook. The partnership, while beneficial, wasn’t robust, and needed a pick-me-up. Enter today’s new Bing. The company is diving deeper into Facebook’s rich stores of data to bring personalized results to its search. Now, when you type in a keyword, it will show you images of friends on Facebook who have somehow listed or liked that keyword. And without leaving Bing, you’ll be able to pose questions to that defined crowd.

But the new program sounds very familiar. In January, Google announced its Search Plus Your World initiative, which takes data from its Google+ social network an includes photos, profiles, and posts that are relevant to your keyword.

Bing has two points in its favor, however. First off, Bing isn’t using Google+ data, it’s using Facebook data, which has had many more years to collect a lot of relevant information. Facebook is closing in on a billion registered users, while Google+ reaches a much smaller audience. Secondly, Bing’s social integration looks great: It’s just better-looking than Google.

Bing now includes a black box on the right side of its search results for these personalized results to live in. Friends who match your searched keyword will show up there, with comment boxes for you to pose questions to your friends — a conversation which can take place completely within Bing. The company uses the example of a person looking for hotels in Honolulu. He sees a friend’s pictures from a recent trip to Hawaii and asks where the friend stayed. From there he makes his choice of hotel.

Facebook isn’t the only one getting Bing’s attention. The search engine will also provide people it believes are relevant to your search from Quora, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Microsoft hasn’t yet released the new social search features to Bing, saying only that they are “coming soon,” but you can provide an e-mail address to request early access. Check out the company’s promo video below:

http://img.widgets.video.s-msn.com/fl/customplayer/current/customplayer.swf


VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Chime in, and we’ll share the data.