John Cosley

Director, Bing Ads Product Marketing

Making search more valuable to our lives

bing ads search more valuableWhen was the last time you went a day without using a search engine in some form? From those who default to them to find information or website links, to those who use personal assistants, such as Cortana — they have added unquestionable value to our daily lives and their value could become even greater. In a recent Microsoft study, one-third of people already say they believe that personal digital assistants will be as indispensable as a close friend in the future.

Because of their importance to the way we live, search engines and search powered services hold masses of information about us. What if that information could continue to be put to use to power a new wave of digital services?

Before they can do this, brands must show why consumers should share their information and the value brands can deliver. For example, by offering more transactional benefits, such as coupons and discounts, they can drive more immediate connections to the value of search. For consumers, seeing this instant, welcome benefit shows why they should proactively share. In fact, consumers already see this and say they would share their digital information in exchange for discounts or loyalty points.

When we looked even deeper at the types of information involved, we observed that people are already aware that back-end behavioral data is collected, with 55% globally saying that digital activities such as searches, site visits and purchases are collected by various companies. Consumers also more willingly shared information on the search terms they use when it enabled new digital services, and two-thirds of people chose to share in exchange for a new benefit.

When making conscious and unconscious tradeoffs, willingness to share such activities goes up even more. For new digital services that require data to provide benefits people want, 79% of people will share their search history, while 65% will share their site visits. Only 19% would share purchase history.

Interestingly, however, while transactional benefits, such as coupons and loyalty points are preferred, search has the potential to drive much wider adoption of services that aid in deeper discovery and achievement. For example, brands who can offer enhanced services such as automatic prioritizations or suggestions to help people improve can also significantly drive up willingness to share search information (83% and 89%, respectively).

More and more, consumers expect brands to use information to make their digital experiences more relevant. Over half (55%) say they expect brands to know and help them discover new products or services that fit their needs, and would welcome services that filtered content from technology companies, especially if it helps with discovery or efficiency.

Using search to power product recommendations is a natural connection that people understand. However, the opportunity is there for brands and content providers to take this a step further. Thinking more broadly about how search data can drive increased relevance by tailoring content across more digital activities has the potential to increase consumers’ openness to sharing and improve the experience we have using search in our everyday lives. 

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