REDMOND, Wash. — Speaking this morning at a “Bing Ads Next” event, Microsoft VP Rik van der Kooi talked about the company’s ongoing efforts to take the concept of search into a new era of proactive, intelligent services that anticipate the needs of users based on available data about their work and personal lives.
The company’s Cortana personal assistant for Windows Phone is an early example of its approach, competing with Apple’s Siri and Google Now. Van der Kooi pointed out that Google took a new step in this area this week with the integration of Google Now into its new Inbox app as a new layer of intelligence for email.
“Between us and Google, in many ways we’re thinking about the evolution of search in similar ways,” said van der Kooi, Microsoft corporate vice president of Advertiser and Consumer Monetization. “We have some areas where we can do frankly a better job that they can because of the touch points we have with users across their work and private lives.”
During a subsequent question-and-answer period, he was more specific about the “touch points” that Microsoft has in mind as it looks to sort through a crush of data on behalf of users.
Here’s what he said on that topic.
It’s going to be much more about picking out which signals are actually useful vs. just noise. We spend quite a bit of time thinking about the operating system level signals that we have access to. We do not use them in Bing. … But theoretically we have access to all of the signals of what a user does on the operating system and on the computer, irrespective of what browser they use, etc. There is a richness of additional information there that we don’t leverage today. I haven’t really mentioned privacy yet, but we do think that all of this should and can be done in privacy-compliant ways. The way we’re talking about transparency as we interact with our marketing partners and our customers, is the same way of transparency that we have in mind for interactions with people and consumers. Putting that aside, having those signals available can provide the next treasure trove of what is useful in the value measurement of all of these data signals.
Later, when he was pressed for more specifics, he joked that Microsoft can only be so transparent when it comes to its future plans.
Also at the event, Microsoft announced the general availability of a new feature for advertisers, Universal Event Tracking, providing new ways to track the effectiveness of campaigns.