It appears that Bing is experimenting with showing pictures of people in search results similar to how Google does with its authorship feature, but for when results are about a person, rather than written by them.
Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land points to some examples where Bing is doing this for results for journalists Kara Swisher and Nick Bilton.
According to Sullivan, Bing’s Duane Forrester said Bing is considering something like authorship at the SMX conference last week. It’s unclear whether he was referring to this or something separate. As in the Bilton example Sullivan shares, Bing is not always showing images of the person when it is showing these images. In one case from that example, Bing was simply showing an image from the article.
Here are a couple of the images Bing is showing for Sullivan himself:
Blind FIve Year Old’s AJ Kohn did some additional on what Bing is up to, and found a bunch of sources for results where Bing is showing these kinds of results including: CrunchBase, Myspace, NBA.com, Quora, TED, ESPN, The Canadian Encyclopedia, Amazon, MTV, Last.fm, Forbes, NNDB, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Movies, Hollywood.com, AskMen, FriendFeed, TV Guide, and Comedy Central, to name a few.
According to Kohn, the images show up more often for about pages, which he says, “supports the idea that Bing is looking for high confidence entity pages and not assigning real authorship.”
Google has been pretty clear that authorship is going to be an increasingly important factor moving forward. It’s no surprise that Forrester hinted that Bing will be working on this too. Perhaps what we’re seeing now will provide a sufficient supplement to whatever they come up with for real authorship.