Microsoft and Facebook strengthen search partnership

Microsoft has further integrated with Facebook, using data from the social network within its search engine Bing.

The two companies have had a long-standing partnership but Microsoft has extended the way in which data taken from Facebook, such as likes and interests, to create personalised search results in Bing.

First announced in October 2010, search results on Bing for categories such as shopping and travel will now be displayed in a variety of new ways, using Facebook data. Bing will display articles and pages related to a search query that a person’s friends have Liked, showing their friends’ profile pictures next to the result.

Bing will also use Facebook data on interests to personalise results, bringing up links that would normally be hidden on the third or fourth search page.

The Facebook data will also be used on a much more general scale. For example, those searching for a particular news site will see links to the most popular or Liked articles, as well as the standard search results.

Bing is also giving the opportunity to create travel wish lists and share shopping lists within search, which it believes will help make the channel a more relevant part of the purchasing decision.

Yusuf Mehdi, corporate VP of Microsoft, said, “Historically, search hasn’t incorporated this ’friend effect’, and 80% of people will delay making a decision until they can get a friend’s stamp of approval. This decision delay, or period of time it takes to hunt down a friend for advice, can last anywhere from a few minutes to days, whether you’re waiting for a call back, text, email or tweet.”

Social search has been a priority for Microsoft this year. It outlined its vision for the channel earlier this year at its Imagine conference in Seattle.

Qi Lu, director of Microsoft Online Services, said the relevancy of the web was changing from topical to social and Bing needed to reflect that.

“The Facebook Open Graph reports more than 100m Likes every day,” he said. “This social overlay is a new way of reaching our target audiences. Bing and Facebook are collaborating to create a new search experience that doesn’t exist at the moment. What’s missing from search is the trusted opinion of people you value.”

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