Have you heard the news? Bing is profitable. During its October 22 earnings call, Microsoft revealed that the search engine generated $1 billion in ad revenue during the company’s first quarter of fiscal 2016, and that Bing turned its first profit since being launched in 2009. I believe Bing’s shift to profitability is a result of a strong vision that has shaped the way companies do business on the web. Enterprises should view Bing as a critical publisher to improve the reach of their location data.
As I mentioned in a recent blog post about Foursquare, publishers are important because they help national businesses unleash their location data to places where their customers live. It’s important to share your data throughout the digital world, but claiming and managing data among long-tail, secondary data publishers can amount to expensive overkill. Instead of pursuing a tier-two paid listing strategy, enterprises should create a foundation with a small group of high-impact publishers that includes Apple, Bing, Facebook, Foursquare, and Google, complemented by relationships with smaller players in key verticals. Here are a few reasons why Bing matters:
- From the start, Bing has possessed a compelling vision for an intent-based, contextual web. When Google was positioning itself as a place to search for things, Bing was all about helping people make better decisions based on the context of their interests and intent. Bing has always stayed true to its vision, as evidenced by its development of semantic web capabilities through organic growth and acquisitions. Bing’s vision of providing an intent-based, contextual platform is being realized today as marketing becomes a more contextual experience.
- Bing continues to extend its reach. According to comScore, Bing now owns 20.7 percent of the U.S. search market, well behind Google but large enough for any brand to add to its publishing network.
- Bing is a crucial link to voice search. In the U.S., 55 percent of teens and four out of 10 adults use voice-activated search tools such as Siri at least once a day. Bing is the default search engine for Apple’s Siri voice-activated assistant. As wearables such as the Apple Watch become more commonplace, voice-activated search will become more prevalent — and Bing will capture a share of those searches.
- Bing is becoming a stronger commerce tool. For example, in 2015, Bing created a feature that allows users to order food and book hotels directly from search results (which demonstrates Bing’s ability to bridge the online/offline worlds). And just in time for the holiday season, Bing launched new tools to support shopping campaigns. For instance, Bing extended its Product Ads to iOS and Android devices. The expanded functionality helps extend Bing’s role well beyond search.
So much of what I read about Bing compares the publisher to Google, with the inevitable “Will Bing ever catch up to Google?” question figuring prominently into the storyline. The question is not whether Bing will catch up to Google. The question is whether you are improving your data health by becoming a Bing partner.
Gib Olander is vice president of product at Chicago-based SIM Partners.