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Last week Microsoft launched bing and invited a bunch of people to hang out in Bellevue for a couple days and get indoctrinated provide feedback. I like a lot of what I saw using both my eyes (one is good and one is evil). I also mouthed off to several Microsoft folks that I would use bing for two weeks and blog my adventure.
So…being true to my word I am now using bing for as much as possible short of google specific searches for client work etc.
Keep an eyeball here for my complaints observations.
Last week MSN launched a bunch of tremendous improvements Live Search. In spite of that there are still 2 major issues that I have with Live Search: depth of crawl and freshness of index.
What bugs you about Live Search?
So here I sit in a what feels like a college classroom at the MS campus in Mountain View. I’m at sercih…searcha…oh crap…what is this?…Searchification. I got a pen and USB and everything to prove it. This is my first attempt to live blog – well sorta anyhow – we’re embargoed until 9pm tonight.
Vanessa is blogging this event as well so I’m going to leave the more useful stuff to her and I will make witty observances for the rest of the day. Between the two posts I hope you’ll get a feel for the day. Boser is here as well but he’s nearly asleep already.
Got a few emails out of the way and now I’m ready to pay attention…
The intro thing is over and now Satya Nadella is chattin us up. This whole thing is about a major update to Live Search. Apparently updates happen all the time – hill shading on maps, 3D maps etc.
Satya’s title is Corporate Vice President, Search & Advertising Platform Group – how do you fit that on a business card?
The Fall Update is going to cover 4 core areas – Local and Maps, Entertainment, Health, and Shopping.
MSN looked at a big steaming pile of click data and drew some conclusions – 54% fully or partially satisfied with results and 46% not satisfied. the main issue is relevance – 91% of the time.
this real time bloggin is hard work. Wish I had coffee…but we’re not allowed coffee in this room but Vanessa snuck in a diet coke anyhow and didn’t share it.
Oh – he’s breaking down the 91% relevance issues:
28% – coverage – no document to match query
25% – query intent and refinement – people can’t search
32% – core ranking issues
15% – other issues
MSN is making 6 major investments to the Fall Update
1- Coverage – index size
2- Query Intent
3- Query Refinement
5- Structured Information Extraction
6- Rich Answers
some interesting stuff on this slide – wish you could see it so I didn’t have to type it all. The biggest thing here is that MSN has grown there index to over 20B docs. They are also claiming increased freshness, crawl depth and filtering. Interestingly enough they’ve cut the number of query’s that return less than 10 results in half.
Now they’re showing example queries that are better or didn’t used to have results.
This is focused around stop words, stemming, term equivalence and punctuation analysis. They’ve fixed 30% of bad queries automagically.
More examples. The Office – used to show MS Office – now shows The Office videos and TV show results. Nice.
I gotta say this is actually pretty cool. I know the’ve handpicked these examples for us but it really is giving me some hope that relevance is on the rise.
Auto-spell corrections and suggestions improves approx 8% of searches. More examples. Oh snap! He just said “and now we get Wikipedia in the top result.”
I just snuck a peak at Boser – wow he’s slow typist. Good thing he won’t see this until after he’s bought me drinks tonight.
Groovy – side by side machine translation. Nice – when you highlight text in one language it highlight the corresonding text in the second language. I like that – not sure how useful bit it demos well.
Neural Network Ranking – do I hear Skynet anyone? There’s a very cool graphic on the screen that makes no sense to me at all. it must be cool. The upshot is RankNet is loosely modeled on biological neural networks and brains. One example of this is grouping pairs of words in multi word queries. More examples.
So all these examples that they’re showing are mostly from complaints that people have sent in. Who has time to complain to a search engine when they don’t like SERPS? It’s very curious to me.
So far they’ve just been showing MSN results and one Yahoo result. they did finally just show some examples where they have better results than Google. Booyah.
Structured Information Extraction:
Those 3 words are fancy talk for grouping and verticals. I’ll bet we’re gonna see some examples now…oh – no. Moving on.
new answers platform
answers and multi media are incorporated in main serp
main improvements to news, images answers, local and maps
Example – san jose weather – results in page. Don’t need to click away.
Example – stocks – real time data.
Example – Barack Obama – integrated news
Example – space shuttle video – video in results
hmmmm – Univesal Search?…Everybody remember that Ask did it first and better.
so how do you measure relevance?
Human Judged – uses trainde judges to asses the results relevance
Blind Taste Test – judges don’t know wich SE they are seeing results from
Positional – 1st results is worth more than 2nd which is worth more than 3rd etc
Scaled – perfect results worth more than excellent worht more than good etc.
Ongoing – measured continuously
how does msn stack up? 2005 not good. 2006 better. 2007 – they believe they are equal to Google for relevance and ahead of yahoo. they also think they were ahead of Yahoo in 2006 for relevance.
Now we’re gonna talk about some high interest verticals – Local and Maps, entertainment, shopping and health. these 4 areas compose about 40% of all queries. the premise is that the action you want to take is different based on which vertical you are search about ie: purchase decision vs address for local businesses.
Local & Maps:
First up ins Local and maps. 32% of queries have local intent. 67% of local search begins at a search engine, 42% of active users use maps and local.
MSN defines leadership in local and maps as simple intuitive driving directions, most accurate geo coding algos and superior visualization like bird’s eye and 3D. MSN also believes they should ahve the broadest selection of local content to deliver the most relevant results. Seems a bit of an obvious statement to me.
Vanessa has been typing slow and is now copying off my screen. C’mon – pay attention Vanessa.
Virtual Earth. Adding a 3rd dimension to the web will change user action. They are building out 3D digital representations of major cites. 500 done by end of year.
B2B Map platform – 1,300 competitors – MSN is #2. There are 1.9B transaction a month in this space. MSN wants an end to end api for this application.
Mobile – growing like mad. MSN is working with Spring in teh US and they own TellMe (look it up – it’s way cool). They are working on location aware search and mapping.
Example time…yeah – I’m way to lazy to tell you about the actual examples and I’m pretty sure that I won’t be updating this post later with screenshots.
oh this next example is pretty cool. MSN believes they are going to revolutionize driving directions. First up is 1 click directions. You click the link in the email and it shows you the destination and then gives you a handful of pre computed directions. you then click the route that is the direction you’ll be coming from. It’s pretty cool. Most users really don’t need directions from their driveway. I like it. the page is also nicely designed to be printed properly. They are also introducing some hints to driving directions such as toll both notes and “If you hit this road you’ve gone to far” kinda stuff. Real time traffic flow is also being integrated to give more accurate drive times and better routing based on traffic patterns.
They’re now showing Mobil apps on a TMobile Dash. i live in Canada where mobile sucks so i don’t ever use it but this is pretty cool stuff. he’s showing how to find specific types of restaurants near a movie theater he’s chosen to go to. nifty.
10% of all queries are entertainment related – high frequency of use – currently low satisfaction in search with results.
Key investment: celebrity instant answers, xRank Celebrity ranking, image search enhancements and Video search (V1).
Example time…xRank – fun new feature that tracks who people are querying – it’s a who’s hot and who’s not. Example is jessica alba is #21 most searched for celeb in last 12 hours. Click the celeb name and see why they are hot or not right now. Kinda cool. they are updating 2X as often as Google Trends and quite frankly it’s way more useful (if you care about celebs).
Video search examples coming up. MSN now has their own proprietary video search. They want to search ALL video not just the youtubes and metacafes of the world. In the search results for tiger woods video you can clearly see much more content than Google or Yahoo are showing. this is actually very very impressive. Definitly a far better search experience here. Nicely done MSN. Is that kool-aid they’re passing out to the audience?
wow – hover over a video and and it plays inline on teh search page. sweeet. It doesn’t just play the first portion but is actually does some super cool advanced rocket science analyis to find you the best most relevant portion of the clip. Video optimization here we come. Very nice to browse videos before choosing which video you really want to invest your watching time into. they just showed a smart preview of a bball clip and it’s freakin awesome. They are actually able to figure out from all the flash photos etc what the important part of the clip is.
16% of all queries are retail related
86% online users use a search engine to find products or shop
70% product related quereies are for categories not specific products
key investments: new and improved product ansers, opinion index search technology, 37M product offerings
Example search “digital camera” – rich experince with product image results – very nicely done and engaging. Incorporated guides and reviews. Downside here is that I can only see 1 organic result above teh fold. All four product results with accompanying images are Canon cameras…interesting. he’s now showing yahoo and Google results and I’ll admit that MSN is much better experience based on what I’m seeing here.
wireless headphone – not all product are same brand…whew…i was worried.
oops – internet seems to be down…oh wait…it’s back. Demo back online – the speaker is pleased – as are we.
now we’re looking at product reviews aggregated from a multitude of different resources such as newegg, cnet, price grabber etc. The organization and layout are absolutley fantastic. MSn is algorithmically pulling out the key points of all the reviews and doing some great grouping. I will absolutly use this new shopping search to research products. the biggest question I have for now is how broad is this offering?
80% of searchers search for health topics
very high emotional and time investment
very very high dissaticfaction with health search
Key investments: topic dashboard, inline article results, action modules, trusted sources (mayo clinic)
3 top searches in health:
1 – sex
2 – pregnancy
3 – diabetes
diabetes: big chunk of instant answer – categories such as procedures, meds, alternate meds. much more helpin teh main interface. click through and you get the health interface. 3 pieces – topic dashboard dynamically generated and expandable. Next is article results from trusted sources – overviews and previews available without leaving live search. Filtered web results are also included. Logs and cookies are erased after 90 days and health search sits behind https for encyption. users believe health data to be very private and want huge security and anonymity. MSN is protecting this. Well done.
haven’t made a witty observance in a bit. This is actually very very interesting and I keep forgetting I’m here to make fun of things. I really didn’t expect to be this impressed.
now for a little bit of open q&a. this is always fun.
Question about product feeds. Google and Yahoo accept frequent updates. does msn have a feeds system? Yes of course dude – maybe you need a search agency. give me a call.
Question – how much of what we say today was handjobbed vs algo? It’s all algo. Search data and wisdom of the crowd.
Question about MSN search share. MSN is using ComScore data for today’s numbers.
Question – do you plan on rolling all this out to the advertising platform? They will be sharing data around user intent etc to help improve adcenter.
and now I’m not paying attention…nearly lunch…I’m starving.
Now we’re talking about Webmaster Tools. Finally – MSN is launching a toolset. Let’s see what they have.
why another set of tools? obviously it’s important for webmasters to be able to communicate with Live Search to make sure they’re properly indexed and represented. why aren’t my pages indexed? Why am I being crawled so much? Is this considered spamming? how can I tell you more about my site? Currently these requests seem to go into a black hole.
Priority is a self service portal for large and medium size customers. These customers are most likely to use the tools.
oh look – a screenshot of the dashboard.
Thre is a going to be a forum and blog associated with the tools. They are staffing up a whole team to manage this customer relationship.
Initial Feature Set:
what pages are indexed
are there issues with my robots file
is my website blocked
can you find my sitemap file
asp.net sitemap creation
sitemap ping service
and much more but Nathan Buggia moved to the next slide – jerk
Webmaster Tools account will support up to 150 sites and will use validation the same as Google or Yahoo. If you put in real contact info MSN will email you notifications of problems with your website.
you will be able to see which pages MSN thinks are the most important on your site as well as a yes/no if they think you are spamming. if yes you can go through a process to find out how and why.
next is stats – first off is link and linkfrom operators are coming back and links will be listed in order of importance. No committment on whether or not all or just a sample of links will be shown.
Private beta launches Monday. Bigger private beta on 10/22 and public beta on 11/15 launched at SMX in London.
screenshots? pffft – that’s like real work. They did give us a cool url to go play with so maybe I’ll get some screenshots tomorrow of Friday but most likely not.
I hope you enjoyed my first sorta live blogging as much as I did.
wanna try it out? see the url below? the &form=LIVSOP part? change that to form=press and you get the new results.
http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=oilman&go=Search&mkt=en-us&scope=&FORM=LIVSOP – old and busted
http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=oilman&go=Search&mkt=en-us&scope=&FORM=PRESS – new hotness
Finally best pharmacy technician program online MSN does something nifty with search: an outbound link operator. Who do you link TO? That’s some cialis tagline excellent new data to add to your competitive research projects. Now if only MSN would get crawling more of the web.
We have one new, very exciting operator: LinkFromDomain. Using LinkFromDomain in your search includes long term side effect cialis all sites that are linked from a given domain. online courses related to pharmacy This complements LinkDomain (which includes all sites cialis doesnt work anymore that link to a given domain) that was introduced back in June, 05.
More info here.
If you’re really quiet you can here the scrapers firing up…
No this isn’t the chain-spam-email. MSN AdCenter is giving the next 200 people $50 credits in their AdCenter accounts.
Over the last few months, we’ve been cooking up a new feature that we think many of you will appreciate: promotion codes (a.k.a. “coupons”).
It took a lot of planning and work to mint promotion codes to give current and potential advertisers incentives to try adCenter. First, we had lots of meetings to decide what type of codes we’d need – single or multi-use*? – how about both? We also discussed other important things such as, should we call it a coupon? We decided to go with “promotion code.” Second, you need a stellar program manager to write up a spec that incorporates all of the adCenter teams’ needs (thank you, Om!). Third, you need help from the service and operations teams to think through all the possible and creative uses of promotion codes. Finally, you need amazing engineers to build a product that can scale to your needs.
We lucked out. All the cooks in the kitchen pulled together, and over the weekend we shipped promotion codes.
Most of our promotion codes will likely be targeted to new advertisers, but today, for our blog readers, we’ve created a multi-use promotion code just for you: minty06
This code (minty06) can be applied to new or existing accounts. To redeem this promotion, existing users will need to sign-in to adCenter, select the Accounts & Billing tab, and then select an account from the list. On the Account Details page, at the bottom, there is a box where you can redeem your promotion code. Simply type the code in the box and click Save. There isn’t a confirmation message yet – that’s coming in the next update. New advertisers can redeem this promotion code during the sign-up process on the Billing tab.
This promotion is available to the first 200 adCenter advertisers that redeem it (one redemption per account), and is worth $50 for U.S. currency adCenter accounts (additional currencies and countries will be supported in upcoming releases). All the small-type text below explains the legal implications of redeeming this code.
We’re off to celebrate this feature launch now with our team (rumor has it someone brought in mint ice cream!). We hope you enjoy the
Kelly & Natala
Microsoft adCenter Product Managers
There is a bit of fine print on the AdCenter blog.
It’s damn refreshing to see MSN actually listening to feedback from AdCenter users and implementing the changes in a timely fashion. What’s this world coming to?
I got this email today and I’m very excited about the first new change coming….
We have listened to your feedback during the MSN® adCenter pilot, and we are excited to announce an upcoming update of the tool, with some new features that will offer you a better, easier, and more productive customer experience.
With these new features, you will be able to:
- Add multiple keywords when creating campaigns, rather than manually typing each keyword.
- Sign up for MSN adMail with the new Communication Preferences checklist.
- Print billing statements through our updated Billing tab.
- Estimate bids to help reach position one ad ranking through our improved price estimation tool.
- Insert text dynamically into an ad title or ad text (formerly known as parameters).
Please note that MSN adCenter will be down briefly while it’s being updated on the afternoon of April 18. This should have no effect on your existing data or campaigns, which will remain live during this time. However, you will not be able to access your account or its features while we update adCenter, so we encourage you to make any needed immediate changes to your account beforehand.
To get more information about MSN Search, or to review frequently asked questions about MSN adCenter, check out our FAQ and Troubleshooting sections in the MSN adCenter Learning Center.
The MSN adCenter team
I just verified with a source at MSN that “Add multiple keywords when creating campaigns, rather than manually typing each keyword” does indeed mean big ass open text window to cut and past keyword lists into. YeeHaw!!
UPDATE: All invites have been handed out. Sorry to those that didn’t get one.
MSN is giving away AdCenter accounts. Well, actually current account holders are giving away AdCenter invites. We got this email today:
We’re excited to recognize your participation and feedback that have helped us shape the pilot of MSN® adCenter. To thank you for using adCenter to promote your business, we’d like to offer you an exclusive opportunity to refer friends and colleagues to apply for the pilot.
In addition to an invitation into the pilot, your nominees will receive a special offer to join our complimentary campaign set-up service called QuickLaunch. This service offers the assistance of a Media Specialist, making it easier to set up campaigns, migrate and optimize current P4P campaigns, and learn how to best manage campaign performance in adCenter.
So, share the benefits of adCenter today and access your exclusive invitations.
We look forward to welcoming your friends and colleagues to MSN adCenter.
The MSN adCenter team
So feel free to post here and I’ll be happy to hand them out. Those offering money, of course, will move to the top of the list My paypal address is…..
I’ve been getting IM’s all day about the new(ish) MSN SERPS. Some really fugly looking results. Rather than expound on this too much let’s just get to the screenshots… I hope the SEO at cars.com got a raise today. Check out page 1 for cars: Moving on to the spam free world of Texas Hold Em: San Antonio? That’s triggered just by having Texas in the search phrase? oops. Personally I like Fort Worth better… Subdomains Hell. Blog Spam is alive and well. How many of those root domains do you recognize? Now I can’t simply bash on MSN, the little engine that could, for bad results and not give at least a nod to some serious progress in other areas. I’ve seen massive improvements
in the depth of crawl on many sites I monitor. The MSN index is growing a decent rate finally. And in their defense about the blog spam – note even Google has a real handle on it yet tho they have culled out many of the free subdomain sites. Maybe if MSN asks nicely Google will give them the black list…nah