Satya Nadella, SVP of Microsoft’s Online Services Division, gave the morning keynote at the Microsoft Search Summit. It was an introduction to and tour of Bing and adCenter upgrades and improvements. Nadella began with a review of the search market and its growth. He was initially apologetic to the audience about Microsoft’s market share. He proceeded to outline the problems with the current state of search that Bing tries to address.
Nadella said “only 1 in 4 queries deliver successful results.” This is based on Microsoft’s observation of search user behavior from historical Live Search logs and its toolbar installs (where they get visibility on search behavior on other engines). Repeat queries or refinements and abandonments indicate current dissatisfaction or deficiencies of the current state of search.
“In the quest to find the perfect search engine, we still have a lot of room.”
Nadella explains that people engage in long search sessions. Almost 50% of time spent searching is spent during sessions longer than 30 minutes. But those sessions, according to Microsoft, represent only 5% of search sessions overall. He also showed the following consumer data focused on Microsoft’s four strategic verticals.
The slide shows 66% of people are using search more frequently as a decision-making tool; and in their strategic verticals:
- 75% product purchases
- 62% Local activity
- 45% Flight or hotel
- 43% Healthcare
Nadella explains Bing’s “task orientation” and begins a hands-on walk-through of the site. He shows the homepage and discusses its strong “emotional appeal.” He says that among consumers it’s one of the most liked features of the site. Then he takes us on a tour of the site and concretely points out the features (e.g., Best Match, Instant Answers) that are designed to minimize clicks and respond to typical user behaviors.
He shows a local search “San Diego Events” and points out a range of information about events but also about San Diego more broadly. He discusses health search and authoritative answers, with health-related content and articles that can be read on the SERP. Nadella goes on to discuss shopping and the range of information that can be obtained on the SERP without having to click away. In general, what these and other examples collectively show is the deeper integration of verticals and related vertical content into the search result (to avoid too many clicks and the back button).
In local Nadella pointed to “one-click directions” from the SERP (showing directions from multiple starting points) as a differentiator.
Overall Nadella gave an impressive presentation. Although I don’t discuss these things, he also spoke about the forthcoming Bing marketing campaign (radio, online, TV). He showed the “Hawaii” commercial, which I thought was funny and effective. He also spoke at some length about adCenter improvements. Those changes will be addressed on this site in coming weeks and months. Nadella ended by soliciting honest feedback.
At the end of the session there were a number of questions, many dealt with social media and Twitter and how Bing was going to address that phenomenon.
Nadella said that he felt passionate about the need to incorporate the social graph with the web graph. He said that Microsoft has a lot of work to do in this area. He discusses potential re-ranking of results based on one’s social graph. But he also says that many searchers are looking for more comprehensive information than what one’s friends have to say. He argues that the social graph works better in some categories than others (e.g., Local as opposed to Health).
In response to a question about neutrality regarding working with non-Microsoft products, Nadella says that Bing will absolutely have to work with all browsers and platforms. He says that MSN, Bing and Windows Live are three brands that have distinct objectives (presumably Bing will be the neutral or “agnostic” one).