Qwiki, the interactive online story-creation tool, is announcing a new partnership with Bing today. Now, Qwiki’s will be prominently displayed directly in search results for select Wikipedia entries, giving searchers the ability to watch a presentation providing overview of a given subject without ever leaving the results page. Since Qwikis can also contain links, the company sees it as a unique way to change the way people think about search, and how results are organized.
It’s a partnership that’s huge for Qwiki, in terms of getting its content out there in front of users. And it comes at a critical juncture alongside the launch of its Qwiki creation tool, which puts the power of the previously automated, closed tool in the hands of virtually anyone interested in telling a story online, including news media organizations, bloggers, publishers and more. To make it happen, Qwiki was lucky to find Microsoft in a position where it’s ready and willing to experiment with its Google competitor.
“Microsoft was one of many large distribution partners as our vision started to be communicated, and we found them, and specifically [Bing Principal Software Engineer] Franco Salvetti to be really smart and really motivated to experiment, and very easy to work with,” Qwiki founder and CEO Doug Imbruce said in an interview. “So we worked together for a year on this specific integration, and also talked about what it means to reinvent search.”
And re-inventing search really is the larger goal for both companies. While the partnership is starting off with content generated by Qwiki itself and appended specifically to Wikipedia results showing up in Bing queries, Imbruce said that this is only the beginning. “Really the goal is to turn search into a playable, interactive experience,” he said.
After originally launching in 2011 as an automated tool designed to combine multiple data sources into a playable interactive video presentation, acting as a sort of multimedia encyclopedia, Qwiki recently shifted course, launching its creator tools to help media companies have direct influence in the process. The new model allows for more guided storytelling experiences, which can be created by anyone for virtually every purpose, including now, as demonstrated by the Bing partnership, a new way to organize and curate links around a given topic and present them as a new type of search experience.
The company has definitely come a long way from its original vision, since back when its public alpha originally launched, co-founder Louis Monier said in an interview with Mashable that “Qwiki is not search – it’s a new media format and a groundbreaking method of consuming information.” While it’s still true that Qwiki goes well beyond being a search tool, it is interesting that one of its most promising partnerships now features it seamlessly integrated into a search experience.
For Qwiki, securing these high-profile partnerships will be the key to attracting attention and interest for its publishing platform from the general public. And being front-and-center on search results, especially in tandem with generally high-scoring Wikipedia results, should help the startup catch the eye of publishers large and small.