Eric Enge : BingBook Is A Threat

For years and years, every time I turned around someone was talking about

Eric Enge

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,
2010.

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":

Bing Seattle Travel Search


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":

Bing Boston Garden Search


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:

News Site Example



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

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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.

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Eric Enge video interview with PubCon’s Brett Tabke