Microsoft unveils Bing

CARLSBAD, CA: Microsoft introduced its latest search engine, Bing, on May 28, positioning it as a "decision engine" that will focus on customer search solutions in four verticals: shopping, health, local, and travel.

CARLSBAD, CA: Microsoft introduced its latest search engine, Bing, on May 28, positioning it as a “decision engine” that will focus on customer search solutions in four verticals: shopping, health, local, and travel.

These four verticals account for 30% of search queries, according to Microsoft and its AOR, Waggener Edstrom. They are more complex task- and decision-oriented with sessions that often last longer, too.

Unveiled at the All Things Digital conference, the introduction follows a PR program that began by targeting influencers in the technology space and will ramp up its efforts to reach that audience as well as consumers in the coming week. Bing will be widely available on June 3.

“We needed to provide a lot [to] the technology press, particularly the reviewers who want to write in-depth reviews,” said Adam Sohn, Microsoft's director of PR and influencer marketing for the online services business. “There's lots of cool, experimental stuff you can do when you're launching a product. But there's something to be said about getting in the trenches and telling the right story.”

Since the unveiling, outlets like CNet, TechCrunch, and ComputerWorld have discussed many of the features of the search engine – such as categorized search results – at length. But Microsoft has been working with WE on the promotional effort for months, according to the firm. Sohn said the company worked with WE Studio D to build a reviewer's guide that runs on a tech reviewer's desktop and updates with features and information automatically.

According to Colleen Lacter, EVP at Waggener Edstrom working on the Microsoft account, they “selected a core group of people that we felt were influential in the tech community and started working with them,” providing them with an advance look at the new search engine prior to the official announcement.

“[Microsoft] had been in the market with a product that didn't have market share,” said Lacter. “We wanted to address the skepticism head on with the industry followers.” Google leads search with a whopping 64% market share, followed by Yahoo, and then, much further back, Microsoft, AOL, and Ask Network, according to recent comScore data.

Thursday also marked the launch of Bing's social media campaign. Bing's Twitter handle reached more than 7,300 followers in one day, sponsorships are being ramped up, and preparations are underway for a Facebook presence and events such as with BlogHer.

Sohn would not comment on reported estimates that Microsoft is spending $80 to $100 million on the launch. Instead he refered to an interview that CEO Steven Ballmer gave at the conference where he said the amount “made him gulp.” Competition from Google necessitates a strong launch.

“We're going up against a verb,” said Lacter. “It's a formidable competitor in this marketplace.”

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