Microsoft's search chief acknowledged that the company can't "out-Google Google", but it has the pieces to differentiate itself in search, via partnerships with the likes of Facebook and Yahoo.
Speaking at Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting, Qi Lu, president of the company's online services unit, said that search platforms are improving rapidly. Microsoft ultimately sees search as a window to the cloud. The company will also demo its Bing search engine on Xbox.
But first, Microsoft needs to correct the revenue per search issues that have plagued Yahoo and have hurt the portal's financial results.
Regarding the Yahoo deal, Lu said:
We've been materialising the benefits of the strategic goals for this partnership, particularly in search quality. Because when you combine the search task together, there's more signals to work with — just like injecting a lot more oxygen and raise the heartbeat of the search platforms, and making a lot of progress to benefit some material, a product gets better and better, benefits both the company and it benefits consumers because we, the combined traffic of 30 per cent, almost 30 per cent United States, is now a credible alternative to consumers, to advertisers.
And we're also migrating the Yahoo advertisers in North America on time. That's really a massive undertaking. We had some struggles because undertaking is very complex. We start off with some scenarios that are unprecedented scenarios. We made a major improvement to our platform, and we have stabilised. And we've seen better ways for advertisers and better engagement for advertisers, and we have confidence that we'll be able to unlock the economic opportunities at the platform and deliver RPS lift as we go forward.
The larger question is how Microsoft can use Bing to differentiate itself on search. Lu said that Microsoft has the following items in its strategic quiver:
- Bing's ability to work with Facebook and search social streams: anytime you share, there are billions of sharing activities. It creates a digital linkage to the web and social graph. It gives new scenarios to help users discover.
- Geospatial: new information architecture will emerge, and Bing can be more relevant.
- Apps and services search: Lu said that Microsoft aims to organise the web, as well as the services that ride on it.
Add those up, and Lu said that Microsoft is positioned to focus on task completion for users via multiple platforms.
From these items, Microsoft plans to be an advertising player. "This is our ultimate quest," said Lu.
Via ZDNet US