With the U.S. presidential elections just a week away, Microsoft hopes to drive more traffic to its Bing search engine with a micro site. Can tapping into one of the most hotly contested political seasons in decades give Bing a significant bump?
Located at Bing.com/elections, the site offers what Microsoft calls a 360-degree view into Election 2012. The micro site includes the latest news from the right, left and center perspective, up-to-date polls across national, state and local races, analysis of social conversation across Facebook and Twitter, a tracker to find the nearest polling sites, and up-to-the-minute results on Election Day.
"We launched the Bing Election hub to address an unmet need -- providing a single, comprehensive place to go for elections news, results, and highlights and analysis of what's happening across Facebook and Twitter," said Mike Nichols, corporate vice president of Bing.
Reaching Political Minds
Microsoft did its research before making the quick move to provide information and analysis in the week leading up to the election, and has established some strong political news partnerships to make the plan work.
According to a recent Bing survey, nearly 75 percent of respondents identify themselves as active participants or observers in online political discussions -- but many are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information, news sources and sites out there. Bing Elections aims to helps cut through the clutter by following the pulse of the election across both news sources and social networks.
On the editorial front, Bing has partnered with Politico, RealClearPolitics, The Cook Political Report, Huffington Post and The Associated Press. Bing Elections offers coverage, polls and predictions of every race and candidate down to the state and congressional level, as well an exclusive analysis each day from Politico and its candidate tracker.
Leveraging Social Media
"Microsoft is doing something which is of general interest and trying to elevate Bing's visibility at the same time," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence. "I don't think that it will have a major impact on the broader search market but will give some number of non-Bing users exposure to the site."
According to comScore, Bing is gaining some momentum in the running. Although Google is still king, the search-engine giant lost 3 million unique visitors from July to August. At the same time, Microsoft sites gained 1 million unique visitors. Percentage-wise, that puts Google at 66.4 percent market share and Bing at 15.9 percent.
Bing is relying on social media to help it better those numbers in November. According to the Bing survey, 89 percent of people report their social media consumption relating to this year's election as equal to or more than 2008.
Bing's strategic partnerships with Facebook, Twitter and other social networks let visitors follow trending topics and see frequently updated social sentiment scores to understand what's being said online this election season.