Scott Finholm and “Microsoft’s Vision for the Future of Search”

Although he didn’t utilize his parkour skills to make his way to the stage, Scott Finholm definitely made an impression. We have to admit, showing a ninja cat riding a dinosaur is definitely a great way to start a presentation. Finholm is an Account Director for Bing Ads at Microsoft and brings 10+ years of search industry experience to the Confluence stage.

He broke his speech down into three main points: where we’re going, the three P’s of the future of search, and making it real.

Where we’re going

Finholm reminds us that customers still want to engage with us. It just might not be an in-person interaction. In 2020, customers will navigate your business without interacting with a human and 50 percent of search will come from voice.

Microsoft’s mission is “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” They are accomplishing this through their interconnected ambitions. Bing is assisting in this endeavor.

As an expert on Bing, Finholm tells us “Bing is bigger than you think.” Bing powers Alexa, is the default search engine on Amazon devices, and assists the 145 million monthly users of Cortana, to name a few.

How are Microsoft and Bing empowering people?

Finholm showed video of a Microsoft employee who is changing people’s lives through the Seeing AI app which can tell emotion, age, and gender through what a specialized glasses. The glasses “see” for the wearer. There is even a phone version of the app that can read documents aloud. This is one example of Microsoft changing lives, this time for the blind.

The 3 P’s of the future of search

Personal – Search has changed the way we’ve asked questions from “what is the newest Italian restaurant” to “what Italian restaurant should I eat at tonight”. Take note of these interesting facts: it’s 3.75 times faster to speak than to type, 65% of smartphone owners use voice assistants, and 75% of consumers expect personal experiences.

Predictive – Search will know what you are asking before you ask it.

Pervasive – Search underlies all aspects of what we do online. The average person owns 4 devices. Finholm predicts that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. He reminds us that search can happen at any stage of the buyer’s journey.


Making it real

Today we can talk with bots, get responses, and be transferred to a live agent if the bots aren’t understanding our requests.


Our relationships and romance with Alexa.

Cortana and Alexa can engage together now. He believes this engagement is when we will see the decline of Google. By putting these two powerful people together, they will know a lot about you and you can engage with both of them, passing the conversations back and forth.

Who’s in the Bing club?

Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Google Now. Three of them use Bing data. We’ll let you guess which ones.

Finholm predicts that voice search will result in longer search terms. Essentially, people will ask longer questions. He tells us not to be afraid of question terms, long questions, or exact-match phrases. Interestingly, voice queries are used 3 times more for local use. He recommends including business listings on Bing, Google, and Apple Maps. Just make sure to check your information regularly.

So, what can a marketer do?

  • Allow customers to opt out and be transparent.
  • Think of search throughout the customer journey.
  • Use the power of search data outside your campaigns. Provide this data to the rest of your business, not just a search marketer.