We’re live at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley headquarters to cover a big search announcement between Microsoft and Facebook. Pretty much all the top Facebook communications people are here which leads us to believe this is a pretty big announcement. We’ll be covering the entire thing live as usual. While there is a lot of speculation about what’s being announced, nobody seems to know. Currently the event is expected to begin in about 10 minutes so refresh this page for updates!
We’re waiting on the Facebook and Bing executives to take the stage. We’ll update as soon as they come on.
[11:30 PST] The event should start any moment now … we’re waiting for the execs to take the stage. I’ve also placed a live stream of the event below for anybody interested in just watching the video!
[11:37 PST] We’re still waiting on the event to begin … Alright, someone from Microsoft has come on stage and Mark Zuckerberg just sat down in front of me so you can assume this is a pretty important announcement. The Microsoft representative is giving examples of instances under which this new product would work. Most importantly, how this social information will be more relevant thanks to “a little help from your friends”.
[11:45 PST] Chi Liu has come up on stage to discuss the context of today’s event. “For Bing, our aspirations are to go substantially beyond” the existing version of search. “The prevailing structure of today’s web is fundamentally topical in nature.” Right now anchor text is now the most important signal for determining what information is about. However if you want to go beyond looking for a person or product, the overall experience varies. Chi states that we are building a digital society online. The most important resource according to Chi is Facebook, and the billions and billions of activities being shared by its users. Through those utilities “new structures are being created”.
[11:50 PST] According to Chi, these are the initial steps in how users can become first class citizens of the overall search experience. “The first dimension is that we’ll be able to create search experiences that weren’t previously available.” Today if you enter name queries, the general experience typically isn’t effective. By merging Facebook and Bing, this experience will be dramatically better.
[11:53 PST] “In many many instances”, trusted opinions are the most important thing and will make the overall search experience substantially better.
Chi is also extremely grateful to Facebook for all their hard work that has gone into this. Now Mark Zuckerberg is taking the stage.
[11:55 PST] Mark is proclaiming that information about people is the most interesting information to most people. He is also discussing the history of Facebook over the past few years. In particular, Mark states that in 2007, “we decided that we wanted to focus on building a Platform.” Early on we began discussing what would make social search work. This began early on through our relationship with Microsoft. “What makes Microsoft a great partner is that they’re the underdog here.” They are in a position where they really need to go out and innovate.
[12:01 PT] This is truly just the beginning according to Mark. Now someone from Microsoft is demoing what they’re shipping today. He’s demoing the results that you’d get from Facebook from searching for items including what Bing search currently returns based on the first iteration of Bing within Facebook under the “Web Results” tab. People don’t go to Facebook to do web search however. We began to explore what the next iteration of social search is, and with over 25 billion pieces of content being created on Facebook every day, we decided to combine them together.
[12:03 PT] Now Bing Social is being demonstrated as well, however this is not a new product. You can also view shared links on Facebook at this point. This was the second phase. However today the real opportunity is, how do we bring the social context into the main search experience on Bing. If you start searching for items such as a Toyota prius, these are the results you’d see (he’s demoing the results). Often times I want to know what my friends think about it.
As of today there’s a new Facebook module which shows the items that have been liked from your friends on Facebook as pictured below.
[12:09 PST] Additionally, when you search for objects, you’ll be able to see which of your friends already like that object as illustrated in the image below.
[12:10 PST] That was one area. The other area is people search. What we’ve done is we’ve collaborated to make a better experience. Now when you search on Bing, you’ll be able to see friends and other users directly within the search experience. Right from Bing you’ll be able to send them a message as well, as displayed in the image below.
[12:13 PST] So how do we notify people about this? We show them an alert as pictured below which will pop-up 4 times and allow users to opt-out. If you want at any point you can remove Bing. (It sounds as though this is an Instant Personalization partner).
[12:14 PST] The next version will include the ability to see which of your friends liked any search result (as pictured below).
[12:15 PST] Now Dan Rose is coming up from Facebook. He’s discussing the history of the agreement with Bing. He’s essentially thanking Microsoft for being so flexible and quick with developing the relationship including growing overtime. “From the beginning, four years ago, we discussed whether or not we’d be able to do something around web search in the future.”
[12:22 PST] Now they’re taking questions. The first question was about whether or not this will move beyond a module and one of the Microsoft representatives has responded, confirming that it will no doubt go beyond the current implementations. Mark is confirming that this is one of the things we’re working on for the future. He’s also discussing how this is different than typical search adjustments both on a technical level as well as an interface level.
[12:25 PST] The next question about this is about the privacy aspect, from someone from the Wall Street Journal about what data is being exchanged. According to Mark, “this is instant personalization”. “The way that instant personalization works, I think there are a lot of misconceptions around this that need to be cleaned up. Knowing who you are,” when you arrive to a site, “enables the site to get access to your publicly available information”.
[12:28 PST] I wasn’t quite sure about the new question. However it appeared to be about how instant personalization functions, something that we’ve clarified previously, and something that I’ll clarify in a future post. Mark also clarifies that no data from Bing is being sent back to Facebook.
[12:30 PST] Jason Kincaid of Techcrunch asked about whether any information will be filtered from Bing from private queries.
[12:35 PST] I asked about whether or not Like information was public by default. According to Mark, not all Like information is always public … in fact you can make your liked information private. I’ll have to look into this further in the future. We’ll be sure to post an update about this.
[12:36 PST] Ben Parr of Mashable asked about whether or not any money was exchanged. Dan Rose ultimately declined to comment on that, he emphasized that this is a similar program that has been rolled out to others (instant personalization).