Facebook and Microsoft are collaborating with a project involving Microsoft’s Bing search engine that could help the two companies as they compete with their common enemy Google.
The feature allows Facebook users to see search results from Bing that gathers information from their friends’ profiles, such as restaurant and movie recommendations.
When a person uses Bing to search for things like products, places or movies, the results will include how many of the Facebook friends “liked” that search topic on their profiles. Data from Facebook will play a part in determining how prominently the user’s friend’s information will appear, said Yusuf Mehdi, a senior vice president at Microsoft.
“It isn’t just about the common connections between data and the offline world, it’s about the connections between people,” he said.
Facebook founder and chief Mark Zuckerburg said teaming up with Bing was a new step in his company’s existing partnership with Microsoft.
Microsoft paid $240 million in 2007 for a less than 2 percent stake in Facebook, and ever since then the companies have paired up to place advertising onto Facebook and use Bing Maps for Facebook Places.
The companies’ partnership appears to be an effort to jointly take on Google, whose search engine remains far more popular than Bing. For its part, Google has been trying to take a piece of the social networking market from Facebook with project like Google Buzz.
The big pay off for all these companies is the chance to learn more about their users and parlay that into advertising revenue.
“Making search more social is ultimately going to drive more targeted advertising, which you can charge a premium for,” said Mukul Krishna, a digital media analyst. “Search hinges on that business model.”