Microsoft has added a new paid search ads format in Bing, and the new style looks quite similar to Google ads that run along the upper right hand side of search engine result pages.
Additionally, new seller reviews are popping up on some ads both in the search listing and along the side. These too, have a familiar look with a company's name next to the eye-catching yellow star rating system.
Bing a Distant Second
Nobody beats Google in search, and while Bing's rapid rise to the second most popular search engine in only a few years is pretty nifty, there's a ton of ground still to make up. Perhaps that is why Microsoft has formed a new 'SWAT team' to bolster Bing's effectiveness, and hired a new corporate vice president of strategic and special projects. Mark Penn, a high-powered marketer who once advised President Bill Clinton, is the new VP and will focus on consumer initiatives. That makes Bing job number one.
Besides making Bing ads stand out a bit more, Microsoft has also recently added a sidebar to the far right hand side of the search results page. This is the company's social integration feature, and makes it easy to connect to Facebook or Windows Live.
Look familiar? Bing taking a cue from Google for its paid search ads.
Microsoft Already Has the Answer
We don't know what Microsoft has in mind for Bing, but we do know the company already has a powerful system that could take advantage of Bing's search powers. That would be Microsoft's own Xbox and Kinect. Adding full blown internet search with Bing in the Xbox would be a big boost, not least of all because Google has no gaming platform of its own. No, the Nexus Q doesn't count.
Furthermore, Microsoft has a chance to more deeply integrate Bing with its new mobile OS when Windows 8 launches. Perhaps neither of these solutions would lead to Bing overtaking Google, but their combinations could make Bing a real contender.
With Google's recent privacy troubles, there may be a bit of an opportunity here for Microsoft, but it might not last if Windows 8 doesn't go over well. Tell us in the comments if you've Bing-ed yourself or if you think Google's own problems will be enough for Microsoft to gain some ground in the search world.