This article was written by Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer of Sparxoo, an agency specializing in digital strategy, branding, and marketing. It was originally published on June 24th, 2010.
Riding on news of Google’s new online music store, Microsoft’s Bing is making updates of its own. The search engine that could has finally caught up to Google in search quality, and now wants to entertain. Bing’s strategy is to contain users within the site by aggregating small bits of information across the web into one, centralized Bing-branded page, versus Google’s strategy to direct users to third party sites, such as Wikipedia, YouTube (a Google site), Last.fm, etc.
Microsoft’s search engine is implementing this strategy with the launch of its Entertainment feature. Entertainment aggregates multimedia content to a safe zone in an accessible and fun way. According to Bing, users want a trusted, single source for entertainment. Seventy six percent of people use search to help find and navigate their entertainment options online, but only 10 percent say they have a trusted place to go, writes Bing. The search engine’s new Entertainment feature hopes to capture the 90 percent of users without a trusted online “safe zone.”
Aggregating small bits of information across the web certainly takes the pain of browsing third party sites. Creating a centralized information hub could have some significant advantages over Google. To illustrate the UI differential, we performed a simple search for The Replacements “Unsatisfied” into Bing and Google:
Bing enables users to drill down within the search engine, versus leaving it for other content offerings by:
Aggregating relevant content into one, centralized location — Click on the first song and Bing will gather all information about that one song, including lyrics, the mp3 (not currently functioning yet), albums and movies where the song appears, other artist recordings of the same song and platforms to purchase the song. To view the information on Google, users must click on third party or non-branded Google sites.
Prominently displaying curated information — Bing prominently displays all entertainment in one, well-designed, upfront section whereas Google’s multimedia content is fragmented within the results. The song mp3 is the first result, followed by a link to Last.fm, Wikipedia, Lyrics Depot and finally video.
Enabling site previews to ensure the resource is safe — Bing’s research indicates its users are wary of unfamiliar sites, so the search engine provides previews with key text and link selections. Google users, on the other hand — who might not be as paranoid — click the link based on one or two summary lines.
While Bing has a meager 12 percent market share versus Google’s 65 percent, Microsoft is innovating, updating its UI and trying to get a pulse on user needs to grow. Microsoft’s recent Entertainment feature is the latest example of the tech giant’s drive to be top dog and could eventually make Google take notice. Here at Sparxoo, we have criticized Microsoft’s lack of innovation in mobile, browsers, tablets and strategy, but this is one case where we have to tip our hat for heading in the right direction.