Microsoft says it will extend its Bing advertising platform to the new search experience in Windows 8.1, serving up ads as part of the “Smart Search” results displayed to users inside the PC and tablet operating system.
The move underscores the ongoing blurring of the lines between the traditional desktop computer experience and online services. The Smart Search feature in Windows 8.1 lets users search universally across their device, the web, apps and cloud storage. Keyword searches bring up an extended search results page that Microsoft describes as a custom app, created on the fly based on the user’s query.
For example, at the Build conference in San Francisco last week, Microsoft showed search results for San Francisco that included a postcard picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, followed by the current temperature, key facts, a list of attractions, a preview of web results and related apps from the Windows Store, laid out in a polished design.
Bing will also be presenting ads in those results, including thumbnail images of the advertisers’ landing pages.
“We’re hoping this exposes Bing and Bing ads to a new class of consumers who are using the Smart Search experience,” said David Pann, general manager of the Microsoft Advertising Search Group. He said the feature gives advertisers “a new kind of footprint to work with us” and improve the ad format over time.
It’s one example of how Microsoft is using Windows to give Bing more of a fighting chance against Google, the dominant player in search advertising. The company is also giving developers of Windows 8.1 apps access to APIs to integrate data from Bing into their own services.