the next Google killer. There are way too many of these instances of this happening
that I can’t remember them all. One of the ones that stands out in my mind was
Cuil, the search engine involving former Google employees. Many articles were
written on how this could be a legitimate threat to Google. However, Cuil is no more, as its site was discovered to be down as of September 17,
For years and years, every time I turned around someone was talking about
Another big challenge to Google was going to be from Wolfram Alpha the computational knowledge engine. There were lots of people who got excited when Bing started using Wolfram Alpha data. But when was the last time you heard about Wolfram Alpha? I could go on, but the list is too long to recount all these incidents.
Now at last, there is a legitimate threat. Bing + Facebook ("BingBook") could in fact be a potential Google killer. This is the first time I have felt that someone was in fact mounting a serious threat to Google. Consider a few sample queries on Bing, such as this one for "Seattle travel":
Notice how three of my Facebook friends are listed below the picture of the Seattle skyline. Since Bing knows I may be interested in traveling to Seattle it has immediately connected me with people I know who live in the area. Not only that, but I can click on their name in the results and get taken straight to their Facebook page and begin interacting with them right away. That is really useful.
As a second example, check out this search result for "Boston garden":
Notice how hoopedia.nba.com shows up high in the search results. It shows that three of my friends have Liked it. In the recent interview I did with Bing’s Stefan Weitz he confirmed that my friend liking a page would cause it show up higher than it otherwise would for a relevant search result.
The rational for using this as a ranking signal is a good one. My friends Liking something may not guarantee that I will like it, but it does make it easier for me to draw on someone’s personal experience with it. For another example, consider the situation where I want to check out a news site I have not visited before:
In this situation none of my friends have Liked it, but a bunch of other people have. This gives me a quick sense of the most popular content on the site (the "wisdom of the crowd"), even before I go visit it. That might just entice me to go click on that link to check the article out.
These are just simple examples, and they also represent just the start of the process. This can get so much more interesting as the integration gets deeper and deeper. As I discussed in the Stefan Weitz interview, consider a query for an "Italian restaurant in Boston".
Imagine that it tells me not only which of my friends liked a particular restaurant, but whether or not any of my friends are there right now, or have a reservation later that evening. On top of that, imagine that you could use a service such as OpenTable to book a reservation right there in the search results. Very slick. There are many such scenarios you can imagine, and BingBook is uniquely positioned to implement this.
Google just does not have the pieces in place right now, but they do recognize that they are behind the eight ball on this one. In fact, Larry Page recently sent out a memo to all employees letting them know that 25 percent of their bonus will be tied to the success of their social strategy.
Of course, it would be foolish to count Google out. They will play to win, and they have tremendous resources. But, whether Google mounts a successful campaign, BingBook does, or both, the landscape of search and social media will be fundamentally different before the end of 2012. Social and search are coming together in a big way, and the pace of change will be fast and furious. Strap on your seat belts and enjoy the ride!
- Eric Enge
Eric Enge is president of Stone Temple Consulting and a PubCon speaker. You can read his full biography here.
Eric Enge video interview with PubCon’s Brett Tabke