Microsoft’s (Nasdaq:MSFT) search engine Bing and Klout are forming a strategic partnership that will let the tech giant invest in the social media company and in turn feature Klout scores within Bing search results, the companies announced Thursday.
Klout CEO Joe Fernandez wrote in a blog post that Bing would quickly become one of his company’s “most significant partners,” saying both companies “believe that the growth of the social web and the increasing importance of your online identity are fundamentally transforming the Internet, making it even more important to understand people, not just pages.”
“Like Microsoft, Klout is a friend to all social networks,” Fernandez continued. “We both want to help everyone discover relevant people regardless of the specific networks on which they’re active. And we believe we’ve only just begun to tap into the knowledge and insights 'search through people' will enable, now and into the future.”
Since it was launched in 2009, Bing has struggled to gain the kind of traction with which Google Inc.’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) search engine has dominated the Internet. In 2012, Microsoft launched an aggressive campaign to rebrand its struggling search engine as a more social media-friendly alternative to Google under the new slogan: “Bing is for doing.” Just this month, it followed this with a blatant challenge to its big rival with a new campaign titled “Bing it On,” described by Microsoft itself as an effort to “show why Bing is better than Google.”
Klout, meanwhile, has attracted substantial media attention (including a cover story in Wired magazine). While some coverage has questioned the ethics or quantifiable accuracy of Klout’s opaque system of measuring “social influence,” its user scores have already helped leverage the brand with names like Justin Bieber and Barack Obama, the competition between their Klout scores being one of the social media company’s greatest "controversies" so far.
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Bing, like Klout, has also done its best to steer clear of the social media wars by integrating all of the major players into its service as seamlessly as possible. The new investment will therefore introduce user’s Klout profile in their search results, and Bing will offer more data to Klout to assist its goal of enabling “search through people.” Klout added that it has also revised its scoring system once again to integrate a greater number of social networks to its metric.
Microsoft shares dipped slightly in late afternoon trading on Thursday, closing at $30.16.