Bing Pics

By dabilendabilen (1259533107|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Welcome To Bing

Every time any Bing user navigates to the [www.bing.com Bing] homepage they are greeted by a large, beautiful image. The image could be one of many things, ranging from a beautiful tucked away corner of an unknown nearby forest

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to a beautiful exotic beach in a completely remote island or even a cultural picture of the simple daily activities of a few men in venice. Whatever it may be, these images are changed daily and offer users a unique experience when it comes to surfing the web, an escape.

This blog entry will not look to critique Bing versus competitors, or even its functionality for that matter. I simply intend to discuss the unique image feature and how it may or may not differentiate itself in the industry.

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What is the deal with Bing's Pictures?

Although there may not be an officially announced reason as to why Bing has decided to include large, high quality pictures on its homepage, I think they have made a smart decision in doing so. The pictures keep you on the webpage for longer than a normal search engine homepage which may only be a query box. Additionally each picture has "hot-points" that a user can move their cursor over to reveal some information with some relevance to the picture.

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That said, tried to put myself in the position of the Bing developers, and have to believe they think this will keep users engaged and fortify top-of-mind retention of Bing to users. This would therefore promote word-of-mouth marketing, arguably the most effective way to market a new product, although securing this loyalty is very difficult.

As you can see here, even once a query is run, users will see a small version of the homepage picture in the upper left-hand corner. Compared against Google, there is more of a visual stimulus, which is necessary since Google's fun logo has already offered some of the visual stimulus that the Bing logo alone cannot provide.

Where Do They Come From?

The images come from various sources, in fact if you were to move your cursor to the copyright symbol in the bottom right-hand side of the picture and click on it, the name of the picture and photographer will pop-out. Looking at the image below, I have indicated where this information is with the red circle.

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Reading about the pictures themselves, it seems that Bing solicits the pictures from professional photographers or other pre-existing resources more often than not, although I would expect them to build a staff of photographers in the near future, if they have not done so already, to begin snapping exclusive shots for Bing. Additionally, in June they launched a contest for any interested person to enter their photo(s) to be selected as a homepage photo for the day. Photos were entered via the Bing Photo Sharing application on facebook. In the end only one photo was selected to be displayed in August, but it seems they may do this contest again in the future to further promote Bing.

Information

With every picture on the homepage, Bing has integrated 4 boxes, aka "hot points", which display different pieces of information relevant to the picture being displayed. Each piece of information also includes a link to another page, via Bing of course, which will provide more information about the picture. Information can be anything, from what destination is this to what kind of activities to do there to who likes this picture and why.

The variety of information that is provided is often loosely related to the picture, making it seem forced rather than something they thought would be useful. For example, one image of a beach has a info box saying that swimming is relaxing, beach reference, but it is good to dance afterwards, linking users to a page full of flamenco dancing videos … questionable connection indeed. Also, the physical placement of the boxes is rather obscure, I would think the boxes would be highlighting a specific feature of the image and would then provide info about it, that is not the case at all. Boxes are just scattered around to make users navigate their cursor all over the image.

That said, the pictures do make the search engine more of an experience rather than simply a reference resource. Please see the image below to see how the information "hot points" are displayed.

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Why Should I Care?

If you are someone who likes to spend a lot of time on the internet, being entertained by rather silly features, this would be something you would be VERY interested in. If you are not that kind of person, this feature is still enjoyable, but in the end it is simply a novelty.

For Bing, this is a great move to get more word of mouth going about the website, as people discuss the beautiful images they see. Also, since the images change daily, users are possibly compelled to go back to Bing at least on a daily basis in order to see what destination they are traveling to today. Many websites have capitalized on this "one-day" phenomenon in another industry, retail. [www.woot.com Woot] and [www.gilt.com Gilt] have built their entire business model around the idea that users are likely to come to a website at least once a day if their is some type of incentive, in their case a short-lives sale. Bing does the same by putting a short, one-day shelf life on their images.

Good thinking Bing … now time to work on your search engine.

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