Bing may not have a large share of the search market, but Microsoft's search engine has been quietly picking up useful features in small verticals to pick up new users. Starting this week, the engine has new features that make it easier for users to find entertainment information online.

The "Entertainment" section on Bing now provides additional gaming, video streaming and film information. These are smart little tricks that could help create repeat visitors to Bing. And don't be surprised if you see Google taking notice.

Google still retains a majority of the search market, but Bing has been adding extra features to its search engine in efforts to build its niche searching capabilities.

And the company is making this move after noticing that entertainment queries are a huge draw for web surfers. As Microsoft points out, 76% of people use search to help find and navigate entertainment options online. But there's lots of room for improvement — and for Bing to make entertainment its niche. Only 10% say they have a trusted place to go to find entertainment answers.

As Microsoft Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi told CNET:

"Entertainment has turned out to be a very high-volume, high-query scenario. About 10 percent of all queries are entertainment-related, so that's a big opportunity."

According to Mehdi, consumers conduct about 1.5 billion entertainment related queries on Bing every month. Now, when they search on the site, they can easily find song lyrics and over 5 million full-length songs through a license agreement between the music labels and Zune. Bing provides links to purchase the song, and most impressively (especially for Microsoft), users don't have to install a player, register or download anything to do so.

In addition to music content, now people who come to Bing can watch television shows, easily find movie times, play games and listen to music all within the Bing browser. The move has two benefits for Microsoft's search engine. Users who find entertainment information more easily on Bing than other search engines will likely come back to do more searches. Additionally, by keeping all of this information in the Bing browser, Microsoft is making Bing a more integral part of the things people like to do online.

Ardent Bejeweled addict? Now you can play right in the Bing browser.

Microsoft notes that people spend 60 hours watching online video every single month. They found that over 30% of people watch all of their TV episodes online, and over 60% of people have used a search engine to look for full-length TV shows online. Making that content easier to find will help make Bing more indispensable.

As Mehdi told CNET:

"There are a lot of people that can provide "hey, here's a link to this, here's a link to that." The people who can do the end-to-end killer experience, make it simple, make it easy, have it work. That's what can help you transcend. I think we saw an opportunity to maybe do that."

The one problem with the current state of search, of course, is that should Bing's new features resonate with users, we can expect to see them in other places shortly. Like Google.

Meghan Keane

Published 23 June, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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