'WE'RE ALL IN': Microsoft is committed to taking on Google

Microsoft invited 60 advertisers to an event called “Bing Ads Next” this week. The event is a briefing about the company’s vision for its search products, namely Bing.

Bing, the company’s search engine, has been growing in scale and revenue over the past few years, bringing in $1 billion (£640 million) last quarter and grabbing 20% of the search market share in early 2015. This figure does not include traffic from affiliate deals with Yahoo, among others.

“We’re all in on search,” said Rik van der Kooi, the corporate vice president for advertiser and publisher solutions for Microsoft, at the event. “Some doubted our commitment [but] we’ve built a business that’s on the path to success. We’re all in.”

The event was largely focused on the needs of advertisers, according to Search Engine Land. Van der Kooi outlined a “punch list” of features that his team will build for Bing to make it more appealing for advertisers and put Microsoft’s offerings inline with Google’s AdWords product.

Google Search is still a dominant player, generating around 90% of Google’s total revenue, and Microsoft’s renewed interest in Bing — which was once on the chopping block — should worry the giant. Urs Hölzle, Google’s cloud boss, recently said that the company was looking to become a “cloud company” by 2020, highlighting a shift away from advertising on search results and websites.

Windows 10, which has Bing as the default search engine, has helped the site gain traction. Google Search is the default on iOS and Android — which have almost two billion users combined — but Apple has been moving away from Google services and Microsoft is aiming for one billion Windows 10 users.

Microsoft is looking to expand its mobile offerings, according to Van der Kooi, with a three part strategy: Expansion on Windows phones (especially in European markets); Partnerships (like the one with Apple on Siri); and integration with products (such as Office).

It’s unlikely that Bing will ever overtake Google Search, but Microsoft has the benefit of being able to heavily invest without hurting its other businesses, namely enterprise. In fact, the investment in Bing could benefit Microsoft’s enterprise customers by giving them more “big data” insights and unpinning services, such as Cortana.

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