Google, Microsoft's Bing to Include Twitter in Search

But Will Integrations Bring Revenue or Users to Microblogging Service?

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NEW YORK ( -- Twitter updates, now known mostly to the users of the microblogging service, are about to get a lot more ubiquitous.

Twitter CEO Evan Williams: 'Revenue was not the focus of the deals.'
Twitter CEO Evan Williams: 'Revenue was not the focus of the deals.' Credit: AP
Both Microsoft and Google announced Wednesday that they will start to integrate Twitter messages into search results, moves that will propagate the short messages across the web and make them more visible to non-Twitter users.

It could also mean Twitter's first meaningful source of revenue, though neither side disclosed business details. Twitter CEO Evan Williams told the New York Times that "revenue was not the focus of the deals."

The deals are a foray into indexing the real-time conversations occurring on the web. Microsoft also said Wednesday that Bing would soon integrate Facebook updates, but only those made public by their users. Twitter updates, unless locked by the user, are presumed to be public.

"Real-time updates like those on Twitter have appeared not only as a way for people to communicate their thoughts and feelings, but also as an interesting source of data about what is happening right now in regard to a particular topic," wrote Google VP Marissa Mayer in a blog post.

Every tweet
Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi gave a demonstration at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco of how Twitter updates -- tweets -- would be integrated into search results for Bing. Until now, Bing had indexed only certain tweets from celebrities or prominent journalists.

Now every Twitter update will be indexed in real-time. But, unlike Twitter's own search engine, will assign value to tweets in a bid to surface those with the most informational value.

Longer tweets, those that contain added information and links, and tweets from users with many followers on Twitter will be assigned a higher value, say, than a tweet like "that sucks," Mr. Mehdi said. Similar tweets, the kind that overwhelm the service on a daily basis, on topics such as "balloon boy" or President Obama's Nobel prize, will also be filtered.

The indexing of Twitter and Facebook updates into search has long been expected. "We've thought Twitter's real-time pulse should naturally feed into search results, just like results for news or shopping," said Dema Zlotin, VP and co-founder of search-marketing firm Covario.

But making it useful for users and advertisers presents a challenge. "The issue isn't just about serving up real-time Twitter results; the engines will also need to determine relevancy of those results," said Kevin Lee, CEO of search marketing firm Didit. "Google and Bing have different systems for determining relevancy in 'standard' search results, so it will be interesting to watch how their different systems adapt to weeding relevant results from irrelevant results and spam for real-time information."

The question is whether this will drive faster adoption for Twitter, which has grown quickly in the U.S. but has been slowing down. Steve Rubel, senior VP-insights for Edelman Digital, is skeptical. "It can boost its traffic, but the reality is that I believe Twitter may be peaking in terms of users," he said. "The media monsoon has brought a ton of new users in, but fundamentally I believe that everyone who wants to publicly tweet is already doing so."

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