MSN Searchification

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
4- RankNet
5- Structured Information Extraction
6- Rich Answers

Coverage:
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.

Query Intent:
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.

Query Refinement:
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.

RankNet:
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.

Rich Answers:
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.

—break—

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.

Entertainment Vertical
:
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.

Shopping Vertical:
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?

Health Vertical:
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 how open all this new stuff is going to for APIs. Short answer – MSN wants to put apis up for all this with very libel terms of use.

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.

Good Lunch

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:
Troubleshooting
what pages are indexed
are there issues with my robots file
is my website blocked
can you find my sitemap file
Sitemaps
asp.net sitemap creation
sitmemap submission
sitemap ping service

and much more but Nathan Buggia moved to the next slide – jerk :P

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

Comments

  1. GoogleGuy says:

    Wow, this is awesome. I have a new engine now

  2. Leo says:

    Great stuff. Thanks very much!

  3. scottb says:

    Todd,

    Nice write up.

    And I think “Congrats” is in order for your longest post. :)

  4. JeffpOsaka says:

    Nice job on this. I am looking forward to the Webmaster Tools. I thought they might be too buy with Halo to work on this. Good news.

  5. Jan says:

    Great info – I wonder how long your post would have been with coffee. ;-)

  6. Gud work: MSN & u also but these just are examples of MSN gud work, still there are many examples, where they fail to generate gud results such as search word “Cat” and check it out.

  7. Mr. Mackin says:

    VERY Nice job Todd.

  8. Brian Mark says:

    I like it. ToolBarn dominates even more under the new stuff. Now, if they could just get more search volume, they’d have something.

  9. Weaselyone says:

    Nice report Todd. Not bad for a first (sorta) live blogging experience.

  10. AvgJoe says:

    Try this query
    I like the traffic map answer and the links below

    http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=seattle traffic&form=PRESS

  11. AvgJoe says:

    This one is looking pretty impressive

    http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=seattle traffic&form=PRESS

  12. Great job Todd. Now I don’t feel so bad for flaking out on driving the thirty minutes to be there.

    :P

  13. shor says:

    Hehe, Skynet!

    Thanks for the great write-up – very easy on the eyes.

  14. Andreas Lohr says:

    Interesting article. I think Microsoft is getting much better. The marketing leader must be work hard to defend his position.

  15. Ran says:

    MSN is working constantly on new features and gives you this good feeling of a reliable supply

  16. Gab says:

    The question to be asked is: is it to late for MSN ? We all know that now Live simply lacks of the power to compete vs google and even the dying yahoo.

  17. lyndsey says:

    Have to say, you did a pretty bang up job of blogging live without the spelling errors! BTW-did they talk about why MSN is so second rate next to Google, and even Yahoo with relevant results? Or if they are actually going to buy Yahoo?

  18. Julie Kerr says:

    Thanks for the post, its good to know about this.

Trackbacks

  1. Microsoft Live Search Searchification Day …

    I’m sitting at the Microsoft conference center for Searchification Day. We’re within walking distance from the Googleplex where I was for Google Searchology day just a few short months ago. Searchology was all about Google’s unveiling of universal s…

  2. [...] Lots more info, so go check it out. Oh, and yes, there’s a URL at the bottom of his post, so you can actually see a preview right now. I’m not going to spoil it though, so you’ll have to go see for yourself. [...]

  3. [...] Yesterday, I live blogged the Microsoft Live Search Searchification Day for Search Engine Land. Todd did some live blogging too. We both somehow managed to type actual words you find in dictionaries despite being in a room where no beverages — even coffee or diet coke! — was allowed. [...]

  4. [...] There is plenty of new stuff to write about – read all the details in a live blog. [...]

  5. [...] Este fin de semana se celebró el Microsoft Live Search Searchification Day. En ese evento Live echó la casa por la ventana con el anuncio de muchas novedades y explicando datos interesantes sobre su buscador. Aquí teneis un resumen de lo dicho, vía Oilman. [...]

  6. [...] expected early last week, Microsoft announced the “New Live Search”. Todd, Oilman, posted live coverage, as did Vanessa Fox at Search Engine Land of the Searchification event at [...]

  7. [...] går kunne jeg så konstatere, at min gode ven Todd aka Oilman havde været på Searchification seminar hos Microsoft om netop den nye søgemaskine. Todd har begået en lang live post fra [...]

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