I attended the Microsoft Searchification event yesterday. The most important thing that happened here is that Microsoft has finally suceeded in offering a differentiated search product, and this is what made the day so important.
Brad Goldberg started the day with an overview presentation on some basic facts about the search market. One very interesting data set presented by him was a market share table:
|Engine||Users||User share||Query share|
Looking closely at this table you will see that 37% of all people who search, do at least some of their searching using Live Search. However, the query share is only 11%. The observation was then made that this indicated that this was an indicator that Live Search was not suceeding in statisfying its customers.
Then Mr. Goldberg stated that a large part of their intention with this release is to address this issue. This is an interesting focus, although it does assume that simply improving the relevance and quality of Live Search’s results will be enough to convert many of those 37% to doing a larger percentage of their searches on Live Search.
Nontheless, it’s a compelling notion. Micosoft does capture a lot of search volume as a result of the integration of Live Search into MSN. They also have very large user bases with Microsoft Messenger and Hotmail. So they can keep putting search back in front of their user base.
In fact, the presentations and demos we saw suggested that Microsoft suceeded in accomplishing several things:
- Improving basic search quality and relevance. Certainly a number of examples of this were offered. Of course, the acid test of improved relevance will be revealed across tens of millions of search queries
- Showing compelling improvements in Shopping Search for consumer electronics
- Providing a completely new look layout for Health search. New features included a set of refinements links up top to help users quickly adapt their search. In addition, the page now has a 3 column layout, with the left column providing access to the latest articles related to your search.
- Making some great advances in local search, including their 3D mapping technology
- Offering a rich Entertainment search experience that allows people to drill deep in searches related to their favorite stars
- Providing a rich and engagin Mobile search experience. Microsoft already had a strong mobile product, and has made it even stronger still
- Another area where Microsoft already had a great solution was their Image search product, but they made several enhancements here as well
- Unveiling their video search solution, including some great technology for componsing 30 second trailers
- Expanded their index from 5B pages to more than 20B pages
I will explore some of these items in more detail over the next week. Net-net, it looks like Microsoft has improved their base search results, and then made a huge effort to improve search quality dramatically in a number of major vertical areas.