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By Scott Spooner

This past week Yahoo consummated its long awaited courtship with Bing by announcing that, henceforth, Bing will be powering the search functions of Yahoo, one of the Net’s most respected search engine companies.

I can understand the desire for Yahoo and Bing to enter into this partnership; both from a market share and financial perspective. After all, someone has to challenge the 600-lb. gorilla that is Google.

But, from a strictly marketing point of view, how will Yahoo position itself in the mind of the consumer? To the average consumer, Yahoo has always meant “search”. If Bing is now powering the search, can Yahoo legitimately continue to claim this mantle? If not, what position will Yahoo stake out?

I’m sure – or, at least, I hope – that both Yahoo and Bing have their best marketing teams working on this very question. In the ever changing landscape that is the Internet, they’ll have to move quickly if the are going to capitalize on the benefits of this merger and build future market share.

Otherwise, the venerable search engine will shrink into the shadows and join the likes of other search engines that have come and gone.

Or maybe the net surfers of tomorrow will simply remember the former giant as “YaWho?”

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Bing Aims to Re-Position Search

At the recent SES NY, Microsoft announced some new updates to Bing. During his keynote, Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president, Online Audience Business, announced the updates which include an update the the Bing interface as well as several mapping applications designed to integrate services such as Twitter and Foursquare.

You can view Mr. Mehdi’s keynote address here:

The user interface update will adapt the search results page based upon the intent of the query.  Functionality  on the left side of the page will soon include query-specific options to help refine users’ questions and help Bing better understand user intent.

This new user interface will be rolled out starting this week and will become available to approximately 5% of customers.

In the coming weeks, Bing will roll out a new search experience for autos. This new feature pulls together disconnected content from across the web for what Bing calls a “one-stop-shop.”

In addition, Bing will be offering a new Foursquare map app for Bing Maps. This feature will allow Bing searchers to see Foursquare check-ins, badges, and mayorships from within Bing Maps.

When asked about how businesses can monetize the new opportunities presented by Bing, Mehdi said they can provide different kind of ads and find out more about user intent. “Signals of data have helped us understand user intent,” Mehdi said.

The rolling out of these new features begins this week and will be rolled out to all customers later this spring and summer.

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