Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today drew back the curtain on the new incarnation of Live Search: Bing.
Speaking at the D7 Conference in San Diego, Ballmer launched Microsoft's new Search brand, formerly code-named "Kumo." Bing will begin rolling out in the coming days and will be fully available on 6/3.
More than just a rebranding of Live Search, Microsoft is repositioning Bing as a "decision engine," with a goal "to provide customers with intelligent search tools to help them simplify tasks and make more informed decisions," according to a Microsoft spokesperson.
Bing's "decision engine" will begin by focusing on four key vertical areas: making a purchase decision, planning a trip, researching a health condition or finding a local business.
"Today, search engines do a decent job of helping people navigate the Web and find information, but they don't do a very good job of enabling people to use the information they find," Ballmer said in a statement. "When we set out to build Bing, we grounded ourselves in a deep understanding of how people really want to use the Web. Bing is an important first step forward in our long-term effort to deliver innovations in search that enable people to find information quickly and use the information they've found to accomplish tasks and make smart decisions."
Bing includes some advancements to Live Search's core search, such as entity extraction and expansion, query intent recognition and document summarization technology. It also offers a new user experience model, which changes based on the query to offer more relevant decision-making tools.
The Bing brand will extend across other Microsoft search products. Microsoft's mapping platform, Virtual Earth, will now be branded as Bing Maps for Enterprise. Technology from Microsoft's April 2008 acquisition of Farecast is now a central part of Bing Travel. Microsoft's popular cashback program is now dubbed Bing cashback, and will be fully integrated into the Bing Shopping experience.
Earlier this week, AdAge reported that Microsoft will launch an $80 million to $100 million campaign for Bing, which will include online, TV, print and radio.
According to AdAge:
People with knowledge of the planned push said the ads won't go after Google, or Yahoo for that matter, by name. Instead, they'll focus on planting the idea that today's search engines don't work as well as consumers previously thought by asking them whether search (aka Google) really solves their problems. That, Microsoft is hoping, will give consumers a reason to consider switching search engines, which, of course, is one of Bing's biggest challenges.
The Bing situation is a lot like Ask.com's situation two years ago, and again last year. In 2007, Ask.com launched a $57 million campaign aimed at winning new searchers with quirky messaging, taking on Google and others head-on. In 2008, it spent another $22 million, but shifted gears to focus on certain niches it was already doing well in.
Those campaigns didn't help Ask.com win any market share. Will Microsoft's campaign for Bing fare any better?