[This article is originally in searchengineland.com written By Adam Dorfman - Uploaded by AIRS Member:: Issac Avila]

Sure, Google is still bigger, but contributor Adam Dorfman notes that Bing has been introducing significant innovations. Here's why the underdog search engine is worth another look.

When Microsoft announced strong annual financial results July 19, the growth of the company’s cloud services dominated the conversation. But I noticed something else in the company’s numbers: continued growth for Bing. Although Bing accounts for a small share of Microsoft’s revenues, the search platform grew 17 percent year over year.

As TechRadar reported,

As more people used Bing, the search revenue (excluding traffic acquisition costs) also grew, so it looks like things are moving in the right direction.

Bing remains a distant second to Google in terms of market share, but the marketplace needs Bing to grow. A prosperous Bing gives businesses an alternative to Google and another viable platform to grow their visibility.

Google and another viable platform to grow their visibility

Bing’s product improvements are good for brands and good for Google because healthy competition keeps everyone on their toes. Bing’s improvements also help business owners and search marketers in their optimization efforts. Let’s take a look at a number of Bing’s improvements and how we can use them to promote our businesses.

Basic Bing search

On a fundamental level, Bing has enriched basic search to encourage discovery beyond top-level search results. For example, if you use your smartphone to search for “movies” on both Bing and Google, both will show you what’s playing where you live. But Bing also displays tabs for movies on Netflix and Amazon, thus demonstrating an awareness of how we discover movies beyond the theater.

Or a search for the musician Drake on both engines displays prominently in search results news results and video content, but there are more visible social links on Google encouraging further exploration. These differences are subtle, but they matter given how search has become more of a process of deep discovery, especially as we use our voices to do more complex searches.

Along these same lines, Bing recently enhanced search with the rollout of a search entity API, which produces a richer contextual search result. As Bing announced in March:

Bing Entity Search API brings rich contextual information about people, places, things, and local businesses to any application, blog, or website for a more engaging user experience. With Bing Entity Search, you can identify the most relevant entity results based on the search term and provide users with primary details about those entities. With our latest coverage improvements, we now support multiple international markets and many more entity types such as famous people, places, movies, TV shows, video games, and books. With this new API, developers can enhance their apps by exposing rich data from the Bing Knowledge Graph directly in their apps.

A more robust knowledge graph means that businesses need to place more emphasis on the content and data they publish on their own pages, starting with Bing Places for Business. If you’ve been treating Bing Places for Business as an optional alternative to Google My Business, it’s time to start using it as another way to promote your brand.

Visual content

Bing has always been known for being a visually appealing search engine, including its basic layout and home page. From the start, Bing understood that we live in a visual age, with people uploading billions of images and video online every day.

Bing has continuously built upon its embrace of a more visually appealing search aesthetic. For example, Bing presents video search results via appealing thumbnail panels that are easy to explore:

Bing presents video search results via appealing thumbnail

By contrast, video results for Google look more utilitarian and less visually appealing:

 

By contrast video results for Google look more utilitarian and less visually appealing

Bing also recently announced the launch of visual search, which lets people use images to easily navigate the search engine and find content. With the Bing app on your smartphone, you can either take a photo or upload one, and then quickly perform visual searches.

Bing visual search was widely perceived as an answer to Google Lens. But Google’s own visual search capability is limited (iOS users lack access to it), whereas Bing made visual search widely available for Android and iOS.

Bing visual search is important because it’s yet another sign that businesses need to be visually savvy with their own content. Google has been placing more emphasis on the power of strong visuals in its knowledge graphs as a way of making a business more findable and useful to searchers. Visual search has a multitude of applications, an obvious one being for retailers, especially as people don’t always know how to describe a product they’re trying to find, making the use of a photo easier and faster for discovery.

What brands should do

Bing’s enhancement of more complex and visual search alone is a reason brands need to treat Bing as a powerful part of their search toolkit. Although it’s more work to maintain a presence on multiple platforms, the reward is greater, too.

One easy way to better understand Bing is to experience the platform regularly, as people do. If it’s not your default engine, make time to get yourself comfortable using Bing to navigate. Download the Bing app on your mobile device and compare the features to Google’s app. The more you explore through the eyes of your customer, the more likely you’ll find additional ways to be found on both Google and Bing.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in wired.com Written By BRIAN BARRETT - Uploaded By AIRS Member: Carol R. Venuti]

WHAT FINALLY BROKE me was the recipes.

On July 1, I abandoned Google search and committed myself instead to Bing. I downloaded the Bing app on my phone. I made it the default search mode in Chrome. (I didn't switch to Edge, Microsoft's browser, because I decided to limit this experiment strictly to search.) Since then, for the most part, any time I've asked the internet a question, Bing has answered.

A stunt? Sure, a little. But also an earnest attempt to figure out how the other half—or the other 6 percent overall, or 24 percent on desktop, or 33 percent in the US, depending on whose numbers you believe—finds their information online.

And Bing is big! The second-largest search engine by market share in the US, and one of the 50 most visited sites on the internet, according to Alexa rankings. (That’s the Amazon-owned analytics site, not the Amazon-made voice assistant.) I wanted to know how those people experienced the web, how much of a difference it makes when a different set of algorithms decides what knowledge you should see. The internet is a window on the world; a search engine warps and tints it.

There’s also never been a better time to give Bing an honest appraisal. If Google’s data-hoovering didn’t creep you out before, its attitude toward location tracking and Google+ privacy failings should. And while privacy-focused search options like DuckDuckGo go further to solve that problem, Bing is the most full-featured alternative out there. It’s the logical first stop on the express train out of Googletown.

A minor spoiler: This isn’t an excuse to dunk on Bing. It’s also not an extended “Actually, Bing Is Good” counterpoint. It’s just one person’s attempt to figure out what Bing is today, and why.

Bing Bang Boom

Let’s start with the Bing app, technically Microsoft Bing Search. This almost certainly isn’t how most people experience Microsoft’s search engine, but the app does have over 5 million downloads in the Google Play Store alone. People use it. Besides, what better way to evaluate Bing than drinking it up in its most distilled form?

 

Bing offers a maximalist counterpoint to the austerity of Google, whose search box sits unadorned, interrupted only for the occasional doodle reminder of a 19th-century physicist’s birthday. When you open the Bing app, the act of searching is almost incidental. A high-resolution, usually scenic photograph sweeps the display, with three icons—a camera, a magnifying glass, and a microphone—suggesting but not insisting on the different types of search you might enjoy. Below that, options: VideosNear MeNewsRestaurants. (Side-scroll a bit.) MoviesMusicFunImagesGas.

These are the categories Bing considers worthy of one-tap access in 2018. And honestly, why not? I like videos. I like fun.

Categorized in Search Engine

Searching for a different perspective

Unless we specifically disable them, trackers are constantly watching us move around the web, building up a picture of our interests and biases. Then, algorithms reflect these opinions back at us, presenting us with news, articles, and answers that support what we already think.

We're more likely to click things that fit our existing thoughts and interests – but wouldn't objectivity be better?

Jordi Ribas, corporate vice president of AI products at Bing, thinks so Ribas manages Microsoft's search engine from its headquarters in the US, but lived in the UK for three and a half years while he established the Bing team in Europe.

"Obviously as a search engine, our mission is the provide results that are as comprehensive, as objective and as trustworthy as possible," Ribas told TechRadar. "If anything, in a world of fake news and misinformation on the web, I think objectivity in search couldn’t be more important."

Identifying multi-perspective questions

To that end, Bing has launched a new feature called Intelligent Answers. When you enter a question with several valid answers, the search engine summarizes them all in a carousel to give a balanced overview.

Intelligent Answer result in Bing
 
Ask it whether coffee is good for you and Bing will realize there are two main sentiments – both expressed by authoritative sources – and present them both as Intelligent Answers

"Sometimes there's a single answer for a query, but sometimes we’re able to understand and identify that there are multiple perspectives," said Ribas. "We use advanced AI techniques based on deep learning that essentially read the entire web, then try to find which passage or set of passages are most relevant to that question. With machine reading comprehension or MRC, we are sometimes able to identify multiple perspectives, where multiple sources converge into the same answer."

Identifying questions with multiple answers involves several techniques, including sentiment analysis, which identifies the opinions expressed in a piece of text – positive, negative or neutral.

Our mission is the provide results that are as comprehensive, as objective and as trustworthy as possible

Jordi Ribas

"Take a simple query like ‘Is coffee good for you?’" said Ribas. "There are plenty of reputable sources that tell you that there are good reasons for drinking coffee, but there are also some very reputable ones that say the opposite. Deep learning allows us to project multiple queries in the passages to what we call the semantic space and find the matches.

"Then we find that there are documents that cluster separately when you apply the sentiment analysis technique. There’s a set of documents that cluster towards positive reasons for coffee and some that cluster around negative reasons for coffee. If we find that there are authoritative sources on both, then we realise that this question really deserves a multi-perspective answer. And that’s what we call it."

Bursting the bubble

Although the Intelligent Answers might challenge our expectations, Ribas says the response so far has been very positive.

"I think what’s happening today – because of a lot of the personalized feeds on the web, social media, trying to reinforce some of the same articles and the same information that users click on, people end up living in a bit of a bubble.

I feel like search engines have a responsibility to be more objective

Jordi Ribas

And so if you have certain political views, or you have certain biases, you interact with technology in a certain way, and then the algorithms learn that, and they end up reinforcing the same biases that you have. That’s what’s making society a little bit further apart these days, and it’s helping polarize society. I feel like search engines have a responsibility to be more objective, and ultimately our goal is to provide as trustworthy and objective information as we can."

Ribas says industry professionals are pleased with the results as well. "A lot of the feedback we got from analysts in the US was ‘Aha, finally someone is taking responsibility and taking a step forward, and not just saying the answer is negative because that’s what the algorithm tells us.’

"No, we need to work harder and invest in these more advanced algorithms that help us understand that a given question has multiple perspectives. We do feel that it is our responsibility to provide those perspectives, and kind of get people out of their bubble."

Intelligent Answers aren't influenced by your browsing history either, and don't contain any ads or 'sponsored' articles.

"The ads follow a different process," Ribas said. "In fact, even our ads team is separate from what we call the algorithmic team, and we have a specific location for ads. Usually it’s at the top of the page, as you can see, sometimes on the right rail, and we label them as ads. This part has no signal from ads whatsoever."

Feedback and the future

Intelligent Answers only form a small percentage of search results at the moment, but Ribas and his team are plans to build it up – though not too fast.

The danger of any algorithm that uses AI is that it will make mistakes sometimes.

Jordi Ribas

"We’re still learning a lot, and we’re still trying to improve it, and we also want to be cautious not to go overboard," he said. "We want to make sure that precision is high, because the danger of any algorithm that uses AI, since it’s a machine learning algorithm, is that it will make mistakes sometimes.

"We want to make sure that users have a quick way to tell us. We can take a look at what happened and how we can improve the algorithm. And so that’s why we started small, but you will see more coverage as time goes on."

You can offer feedback on Intelligent Answers (and any other aspect of Bing) using the link at the bottom of the results page, and the option might be made more prominent in future, appearing up alongside the answers themselves.

Intelligent Answers feedback

Bing is soliciting feedback on Intelligent Answers, and you can give your thoughts via a link at the bottom of the results page. The option might be made more prominent as IA rolls out more widely

You might soon see Intelligent Answers in other places too – including Cortana. "If you ask Cortana whether coffee is good for you, I think today Cortana probably doesn’t have an answer because there isn’t just one," Ribas said. "But every time you have a single answer at the top in Bing, that actually flows through Cortana, and so we’re working now so that Cortana would say ‘Actually, there are different perspectives on this. According to this source there a few things that coffee is good for, but according to this other source, if you drink too much coffee it can be harmful for you.’ And so that is definitely is in the works."

Hopefully the slow-but-steady approach means the team won't need too much caffeine to see them through late shifts.

 Source: This article was published techradar.com By Cat Ellis

Categorized in Search Engine

How Top Stories Today gamed the system

Over the course of the last several years, every major social platform has been plagued by fake news. Now Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, has a fake news problem of its own.

Because of how the search engine’s autofill feature works, people who visit Bing looking for news videos may be redirected to a flood of fake news videos, all generated by a single source. You can see how it works for yourself: click on the “News” tab from Bing’s homepage. The page autofills the search bar with “Top stories.” Now travel to any other search tab, including “Maps” or “Images” and you’ll see that the search bar retains the “Top stories” query. Autofilling “Top stories” into the search bar appears to be an innocuous design decision — until you hit the “Video” tab.

There, you’ll see a wall of videos including “Breaking: Germany demands immediate prosecution of Obama”; “The Royal wedding in jeopardy,” and “Russian is about to take out Obama permanently.” Many of the videos promote moves made by President Donald Trump, and offer criticism of former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Collectively, the videos have earned 83.6 million views.

And every video comes from one YouTube account: Top Stories Today, an account which appears to have been designed to game Bing’s design. The channel is devoted to promoting false and sensationalized news videos narrated by synthesized voices, which often speak in a kind of gibberish. “We report the genuine news and circumstances occurring the world over,” reads the account’s “about” page on YouTube. “Genuine Reports that the predominant press doesn’t need you to think about! We are your #ONE source for the most vital world event and stories happening every day!”

In content and in tone, Top Stories Today’s videos are reminiscent of the hoaxes that spread virally on Facebook and other platforms during the 2016 election.

“As soon as we become aware of this type of content, we take action to remove it from news search results, which we are doing in this case,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said in a statement. A message sent to Top Stories Today was not returned.

Source: This article was published theverge.com By Casey Newton

Categorized in Search Engine

Google might be the biggest but there are other search engines, too

Most people don't want three dozen search engines, especially people who are not trained internet users. Most people want a single search engine that delivers three key features:

  1. Relevant results (results you are actually interested in)
  2. Uncluttered, easy to read interface
  3. Helpful options to broaden or tighten a search

With this criteria, several of our reader favorites come to mind. These search sites should meet 99 percent of the searching needs of a regular everyday user.

Google Search

Google Search Google Search. screenshot

Google is the reigning king of 'spartan searching', and is the single most used search engine in the world. While it doesn't offer all the shopping center features of Yahoo! or the human curation of Mahalo, Google is fast, relevant, and the largest single catalogue of web pages available today. The search giant also tracks an incredible amount of information that many people don't even know they are giving out.

Make sure you try the Google 'images', 'maps' and 'news' features... they are outstanding services for locating photos, geographic directions, and news headlines. P.S. If you don't want Google to spy on you, protect yourself.

Duck Duck Go Search

DuckDuckGo search results DuckDuckGo search results. DuckDuckGo

At first, DuckDuckGo.com looks like Google. However, there are many subtleties that make this spartan search engine different.

DuckDuckGo has some slick features, like 'zero-click' information (all your answers are found on the first results page). DuckDuckgo offers disambiguation prompts (helps to clarify what question you are really asking). Plus, the ad spam is much less than Google.

Give DuckDuckGo.com a try... you might really like this clean and simple search engine.

Bing Search

Bing Search
 Bing Search. screenshot

Bing is Microsoft's attempt at unseating Google, and arguably the second-most-popular search engine today. Bing used to be MSN search until it was updated in summer of 2009.

Touted as a decision engine, Bing tries to support your researching by offering suggestions in the leftmost column, while also giving you various search options across the top of the screen. Things like 'wiki' suggestions, 'visual search', and 'related searches' might be very useful to you. Bing is not dethroning Google in the near future, no, but it is definitely worth trying.  

Dogpile Search

Dogpile Search Dogpile Search. screenshot

Years ago, Dogpile preceded Google as the fast and efficient choice for web searching. Things changed in the late 1990's, Dogpile faded into obscurity, and Google became king.

Today, however, Dogpile is coming back, with a growing index and a clean and quick presentation that is a testimony to its halcyon days. If you want to try a search tool with pleasant presentation and helpful crosslink results, definitely try Dogpile!

Yippy Search

Yippy Search Results
 Yippy Search Results. Yippy

Yippy is a Deep Web engine that searches other search engines for you. Unlike the regular Web, which is indexed by robot spider programs, Deep Web pages are usually harder to locate by conventional search.

That's where Yippy becomes very useful. If you are searching for obscure hobby interest blogs, obscure government information, tough-to-find obscure news, academic research and otherwise-obscure content, then Yippy is your tool. 

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar SearchGoogle Scholar Search. screenshot

Google Scholar is a special version of Google. This search engine will help you win debates.

Google Scholar focuses on scientific and hard-research academic material that has been subjected to scrutiny by scientists and scholars. Example content includes graduate theses, legal and court opinions, academic publications, medical research reports, physics research papers, and economics and world politics explanations.

If you are looking for serious information that can stand up in a heated debate with educated people, then forget regular Google... Google Scholar is where you want to go to arm yourself with high powered sources!

Webopedia Search

Webopedia Search
 Webopedia Search. screenshot

Webopedia is one of the most useful websites on the web. Webopedia is an encyclopedic resource dedicated to searching technology terminology and computer definitions.

Teach yourself what 'domain name system' is, or what 'DDRAM' means on your computer. Webopedia is absolutely a perfect resource for non-technical people to make more sense of the computers around them.

Yahoo! Search (and More)

Yahoo! Search
 Yahoo! Search. screenshot

Yahoo! is several things: it is a search engine, a news aggregator, a shopping center, an email box, a travel directory, a horoscope and games center, and more.

This 'web portal' breadth of choice makes this a very helpful site for Internet beginners. Searching the Web should also be about discovery and exploration, and Yahoo! delivers that in wholesale quantities. (By the way, here's what happened to Yahoo! avatars and Yahoo! 360 in case you were wondering.)

The Internet Archive Search

The Internet Archive SearchInternet Archive Search. screenshot

The Internet Archive is a favorite destination for longtime Web lovers. The Archive has been taking snapshots of the entire World Wide Web for years now, allowing you and me to travel back in time to see what a web page looked like in 1999, or what the news was like around Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

You won't visit the Archive daily like you would Google or Yahoo or Bing, but when you do have a need to travel back in time, use this search site.

 Source: This article was published lifewire.com By Paul Gil

Categorized in Search Engine

Reddit posts will appear in Bing's search results, and its data will be piped into Power BI for marketers to track brand-related comments.

Microsoft is bringing the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet” to the pages of its search results.

Microsoft has struck a deal with Reddit to pipe data from the social network into Bing’s search results, as well as Power BI’s analytics dashboard, the companies announced on Wednesday.

Now, when people search on Bing, posts published to Reddit may be included in the search results. For example, if a person’s query asks something like “what were the best video games released in 2017,” answers may be sourced from comments left in Reddit’s “gaming” subreddit or topic-specific forum.

People will also be able to use Bing to specifically search for content from Reddit. Typing “reddit [subreddit name]” will return a link to that subreddit and a selection of top comments that have been posted to it. And typing “reddit AMAs” will return a collection of popular AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) sessions, which are live question-and-answer forums that people can host on Reddit. Additionally, if people search for the name of a person who has a hosted an AMA on Reddit, a selection of responses from the Q&A session will appear among the non-Reddit results.

In addition to bringing Reddit’s data to Bing users, Microsoft is also opening that data up to brands. Brands will be able to access Reddit data through Microsoft’s Power BI analytics tool, with options to specify the keywords to track and toggle the time frames to examine. As a result, marketers will be able to monitor what people are saying about their brand or competing brands on Reddit and have that information processed using Power BI’s sentiment analysis feature and plotted into data visualizations.

The deal with Microsoft’s Power BI is similar to one that Reddit announced with social marketing platform Sprinklr last week in terms of accessing Reddit data. Brands will be able to see which subreddits they are mentioned on and then buy ads targeted those audiences.

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Tim Peterson

Categorized in Search Engine

Search engines are a sourcers best friend, but how do you know when to use what search engine and what type of search to perform? A search will pull up almost anything you ask it to do as long as you know how to ask the right questions. The key to a successful search query is knowing what’s available and knowing exactly what you want without having to pour over pages and pages of useless results. Using search engines to find your ideal candidate will help cut out all of the noise by using them correctly.

Using search engines to find your ideal candidate

Not all searches or search engines are made equal. Understanding the fundamentals of search engines and when to use which one is critical when it comes to finding candidates in the most efficient way possible.  

Understanding the power of a Google Search

We all probably use this search engine several times a day, but do you know how to leverage a search to pinpoint what you’re looking for? There are two popular types of search strings that most sourcers are using when it comes to using Google. Both Boolean and X-ray searches will give you a boost in your searching endeavors.

Boolean involves using terms like AND OR NOT in your Google search to limit or broaden what you’re looking for. So, searching for “copy editors” -jobs -Nashville would exclude the term jobs and the results of candidates who live in Nashville, while (“copy editors” OR writers) would give you candidates with editing skills as well as those who may only have writing skills.

Check out some helpful hints from Google:

Common search techniques

Search social media

Put @ in front of a word to search social media. For example: @twitter.

Search for a price

Put in front of a number. For example: camera $400.

Search hashtags

Put in front of a word. For example: #throwbackthursday

Exclude words from your search

Put - in front of a word you want to leave out. For example, jaguar speed -car

Search for an exact match

Put a word or phrase inside quotes. For example, "tallest building".

Search for wildcards or unknown words

Put a * in your word or phrase where you want to leave a placeholder. For example, "largest * in the world".

Search within a range of numbers

Put .. between two numbers. For example, camera $50..$100.

Combine searches

Put “OR” between each search query. For example,  marathon OR race.

Search for a specific site

Put “site:” in front of a site or domain. For example, site:youtube.com or site:.gov.

Search for related sites

Put “related:” in front of a web address you already know. For example, related:time.com.

X-ray allows you to utilize a more powerful search engine (like Google) to search a website (like LinkedIn) whose search function may not be as thorough. You can give it a Google to see how to format your X-ray search. site:linkedin.com/in

search.png

Custom Search Engines

Another benefit to using Google over other search engines is their ability to provide a custom search engine. If you’re tired of writing out the same string of criteria time and time again, Google has provided this type of search engine that allows you to set up and refine your search in one easy location.

Bing Matters!

Google may be the most popular choice when choosing a search engine, but it’s important also to give others a chance as well. Results from each of these sources will be displayed differently and can bring up different results that allow you to see what another may have failed to show you. Make sure you check out the Boolean and X-ray functions of whatever search engine you are using as they may need to be formatted differently.

The reason we pick out Bing as a contender is that all of your popular platforms such as Yahoo, Altavista, and MSN all run off Bing’s search engine (Fun Fact circa 2010). There are some nuances to understand when working with Bing that doesn’t necessarily work when it comes to Google. For instance:

inurl: is something that works well in Google, but doesn’t work in Bing search engine because it was deemed as a “mass data mining tool” back in 2007. It’s long since been retired in Bing and never seen again. Instead, you’ll want to use a more friendly search string such as intitle:recruitment. This type of search string is going to look for the letters “recruitment” in either the title a web page. It also works in Google and most other search engines. This allows you to search for specific titles within a certain website using Bing’s search engine.

Take a look at the X-ray Search in Bing (PRO TIP – In Bing, you have to use the parentheses):

bing.png

Others

DuckDuckGo – The key feature of DuckDuckGo is that it’s a private search engine and doesn’t track your search history, like Google.

Dogpile – Dogpile has been around for decades and is still an excellent metasearch engine that all sourcers should consider.

Yandex – From Russia, with tons of love, this is one of the most popular and widely used search engines in the world!

Search engines are beautiful things. But learning to use them beyond looking up a single term is imperative if you want to remain a productive and efficient sourcer. Let the search engine do the brunt of the work for you, so you can focus on honing in on finding that perfect fit for the job. We know which is your favorite, but humor us anyway, Google or Bing? Go!

Source: This article was published sourcecon.com By Shannon Pritchett

Categorized in Search Engine

Queries provide data mine for Microsoft's AI developments

Microsoft's Bing search engine has long been a punch line in the tech industry, an also-ran that has never come close to challenging Google's dominant position.

But Microsoft could still have the last laugh, since its service has helped lay the groundwork for its burgeoning artificial intelligence effort, which is helping keep the company competitive as it builds out its post-PC future.

Bing probably never stood a chance at surpassing Google, but its 2nd-place spot is worth far more than the advertising dollars it pulls in with every click. Billions of searches over time have given Microsoft a massive repository of everyday questions people ask about their health, the weather, store hours or directions.

“The way machines learn is by looking for patterns in data,” said former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, when asked earlier this year about the relationship between Microsoft's AI efforts and Bing, which he helped launch nearly a decade ago. “It takes large data sets to make that happen.”

Microsoft has spent decades investing in various forms of artificial intelligence research, the fruits of which include its voice assistant Cortana, email-sorting features and the machine-learning algorithms used by businesses that pay for its cloud platform Azure.

It's been stepping up its overt efforts recently, such as with this year's acquisition of Montreal-based Maluuba, which aims to create “literate machines” that can process and communicate information more like humans do.

Some see Bing as the overlooked foundation to those efforts.

“They're getting a huge amount of data across a lot of different contexts – mobile devices, image searches,” said Larry Cornett, a former executive for Yahoo's search engine. “Whether it was intentional or not, having hundreds of millions of queries a day is exactly what you need to power huge artificial intelligence systems.”

Bing started in 2009, a rebranding of earlier Microsoft search engines. Yahoo and Microsoft signed a deal for Bing to power Yahoo's search engine, giving Microsoft access to Yahoo's greater search share, said Cornett, who worked for Yahoo at the time. Similar deals have infused Bing into the search features for Amazon tablets and, until recently, Apple's Siri.

All of this has helped Microsoft better understand language, images and text at a large scale, said Steve Clayton, who as Microsoft's chief storyteller helps communicate the company's AI strategy.

“It's so much more than a search engine for Microsoft,” he said. “It's fuel that helps build other things.”

Bing serves dual purposes, he said, as a source of data to train artificial intelligence and a vehicle to be able to deliver smarter services.

While Google also has the advantage of a powerful search engine, other companies making big investments in the AI race – such as IBM or Amazon – do not.

“Amazon has access to a ton of e-commerce queries, but they don't have all the other queries where people are asking everyday things,” Cornett said.

Neither Bing nor Microsoft's AI efforts have yet made major contributions to the company's overall earnings, though the company repeatedly points out “we are infusing AI into all our products,” including the workplace applications it sells to corporate customers.

The company on Thursday reported fiscal first-quarter profit of $6.6 billion, up 16 percent from a year earlier, on revenue of $24.5 billion, up 12 percent. Meanwhile, Bing-driven search advertising revenue increased by $210 million, or 15 percent, to $1.6 billion – or roughly 7 percent of Microsoft's overall business.

That's OK by current Microsoft current CEO Satya Nadella, who nearly a decade ago was the executive tapped by Ballmer to head Bing's engineering efforts.

In his recent autobiography, Nadella describes the search engine as a “great training ground for building the hyper-scale, cloud-first services” that have allowed the company to pivot to new technologies as its old PC-software business wanes.

Source: This article was published journalgazette.net By MATT O'BRIEN

Categorized in Search Engine

Visual search engines will be at the center of the next phase of evolution for the search industry, with Pinterest, Google, and Bing all announcing major developments recently. 

How do they stack up today, and who looks best placed to offer the best visual searchexperience?

Historically, the input-output relationship in search has been dominated by text. Even as the outputs have become more varied (video and image results, for example), the inputs have been text-based. This has restricted and shaped the potential of search engines, as they try to extract more contextual meaning from a relatively static data set of keywords.

Visual search engines are redefining the limits of our language, opening up a new avenue of communication between people and computers. If we view language as a fluid system of signs and symbols, rather than fixed set of spoken or written words, we arrive at a much more compelling and profound picture of the future of search.

Our culture is visual, a fact that visual search engines are all too eager to capitalize on.

visual culture

Already, specific ecommerce visual search technologies abound: Amazon, Walmart, and ASOS are all in on the act. These companies’ apps turn a user’s smartphone camera into a visual discovery tool, searching for similar items based on whatever is in frame. This is just one use case, however, and the potential for visual search is much greater than just direct ecommerce transactions.

After a lot of trial and error, this technology is coming of age. We are on the cusp of accurate, real-time visual search, which will open a raft of new opportunities for marketers.

Below, we review the progress made by three key players in visual search: Pinterest, Google, and Bing.

Pinterest

Pinterest’s visual search technology is aimed at carving out a position as the go-to place for discovery searches. Their stated aim echoes the opening quote from this article: “To help you find things when you don’t have the words to describe them.”

Pinterest 200M_0

Rather than tackle Google directly, Pinterest has decided to offer up something subtly different to users – and advertisers. People go to Pinterest to discover new ideas, to create mood boards, to be inspired.  Pinterest therefore urges its 200 million users to “search outside the box”, in what could be deciphered as a gentle jibe at Google’s ever-present search bar.

All of this is driven by Pinterest Lens, a sophisticated visual search tool that uses a smartphone camera to scan the physical world, identify objects, and return related results. It is available via the smartphone app, but Pinterest’s visual search functionality can be used on desktop through the Google Chrome extension too.

Pinterest’s vast data set of over 100 billion Pins provides the perfect training material for machine learning applications. As a result, new connections are forged between the physical and digital worlds, using graphics processing units (GPUs) to accelerate the process.

pinterest object detection

In practice, Pinterest Lens works very well and is getting noticeably better with time. The image detection is impressively accurate and the suggestions for related Pins are relevant.

Below, the same object has been selected for a search using Pinterest and also Samsung visual search:

Pinterest_Samsung

The differences in the results are telling.

On the left, Pinterest recognizes the object’s shape, its material, its purpose, but also the defining features of the design. This allows for results that go deeper than a direct search for another black mug. Pinterest knows that the less tangible, stylistic details are what really interest its users. As such, we see results for mugs in different colors, but that are of a similar style.

On the right, Samsung’s Bixby assistant recognizes the object, its color, and its purpose. Samsung’s results are powered by Amazon, and they are a lot less inspiring than the options served up by Pinterest. The image is turned into a keyword search for [black coffee mugs], which renders the visual search element a little redundant.

Visual search engines work best when they express something for us that we would struggle to say in words. Pinterest understands and delivers on this promise better than most.

Pinterest visual search: The key facts

  • Over 200 million monthly users
  • Focuses on the ‘discovery’ phase of search
  • Pinterest Lens is the central visual search technology
  • Great platform for retailers, with obvious monetization possibilities
  • Paid search advertising is a core growth area for the company
  • Increasingly effective visual search results, particularly on the deeper level of aesthetics

Google

Google made early waves in visual search with the launch of Google Goggles. This Android app was launched in 2010 and allowed users to search using their smartphone camera. It works well on famous landmarks, for example, but it has not been updated significantly in quite some time.

It seemed unlikely that Google would remain silent on visual search for long, and this year’s I/O development revealed what the search giant has been working on in the background.

google lens

Google Lens, which will be available via the Photos app and Google Assistant, will be a significant overhaul of the earlier Google Goggles initiative.

Any nomenclative similarities to Pinterest’s product may be more than coincidental. Google has stealthily upgraded its image and visual search engines of late, ushering in results that resemble Pinterest’s format:

Google_Image_Search

Pinterest_image_search

Google’s ‘similar items’ product was another move to cash in on the discovery phase of search, showcasing related results that might further pique a consumer’s curiosity.

Google Lens will provide the object detection technology to link all of this together in a powerful visual search engine. In its BETA format, Lens offers the following categories for visual searches:

  • All
  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Handbags
  • Sunglasses
  • Barcodes
  • Products
  • Places
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Flowers

Some developers have been given the chance to try an early version of Lens, with many reporting mixed results:

Lens_BETA

Looks like Google doesn’t recognize its own Home smart hub… (Source: XDA Developers)

These are very early days for Google Lens, so we can expect this technology to improve significantly as it learns from its mistakes and successes.

When it does, Google is uniquely placed to make visual search a powerful tool for users and advertisers alike. The opportunities for online retailers via paid search are self-evident, but there is also huge potential for brick-and-mortar retailers to capitalize on hyper-local searches.

For all its impressive advances, Pinterest does not possess the ecosystem to permeate all aspects of a user’s life in the way Google can. With a new Pixel smartphone in the works, Google can use visual search alongside voice search to unite its software and hardware. For advertisers using DoubleClick to manage their search and display ads, that presents a very appealing prospect.

We should also anticipate that Google will take this visual search technology further in the near future.

Google is set to open its ARCore product up to all developers, which will bring with it endless possibilities for augmented reality. ARCore is a direct rival to Apple’s ARKit and it could provide the key to unlock the full potential of visual search. We should also not rule out another move into the wearables market, potentially through a new version of Google Glass.

Google visual search: The key facts

  • Google Goggles launched in 2010 as an early entrant to the visual search market
  • Goggles still functions well on some landmarks, but struggles to isolate objects in crowded frames
  • Google Lens scheduled to launch later this year (Date TBA) as a complete overhaul of Goggles
  • Lens will link visual search to Google search and Google Maps
  • Object detection is not perfected, but the product is in BETA
  • Google is best placed to create an advertising product around its visual search engine, once the technology increases in accuracy

Bing

Microsoft had been very quiet on this front since sunsetting its Bing visual search product in 2012. It never really took off and perhaps the appetite wasn’t quite there yet among a mass public for a visual search engine.

Recently, Bing made an interesting re-entry to the fray with the announcement of a completely revamped visual search engine:

This change of tack has been directed by advances in artificial intelligence that can automatically scan images and isolate items.

The early versions of this search functionality required input from users to draw boxes around certain areas of an image for further inspection. Bing announced recently that this will no longer be needed, as the technology has developed to automate this process.

The layout of visual search results on Bing is eerily similar to Pinterest. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Pinterest should be overwhelmed with flattery by now.

Bing_Pinterest

The visual search technology can hone in on objects within most images, and then suggests further items that may be of interest to the user. This is only available on Desktop for the moment, but Mobile support will be added soon.

The results are patchy in places, but when an object is detected relevant suggestions are made. In the example below, a search made using an image of a suit leads to topical, shoppable links:

Bing_Suit

It does not, however, take into account the shirt or tie – the only searchable aspect is the suit.

Things get patchier still for searches made using crowded images. A search for living room decor ideas made using an image will bring up some relevant results, but will not always hone in on specific items.

As with all machine learning technologies, this product will continue to improve and for now, Bing is a step ahead of Google in this aspect. Nonetheless, Microsoft lacks the user base and the mobile hardware to launch a real assault on the visual search market in the long run.

Visual search thrives on data; in this regard, both Google and Pinterest have stolen a march on Bing.

Bing visual search: The key facts

  • Originally launched in 2009, but removed in 2012 due to lack of uptake
  • Relaunched in July 2017, underpinned by AI to identify and analyze objects
  • Advertisers can use Bing visual search to place shoppable images
  • The technology is in its infancy, but the object recognition is quite accurate
  • Desktop only for now, but mobile will follow soon

So, who has the best visual search engine?

For now, Pinterest. With billions of data points and some seasoned image search professionals driving the technology, it provides the smoothest and most accurate experience. It also does something unique by grasping the stylistic features of objects, rather than just their shape or color. As such, it alters the language at our disposal and extends the limits of what is possible in search marketing.

Bing has made massive strides in this arena of late, but it lacks the killer application that would make it stand out enough to draw searchers from Google. Bing visual search is accurate and functional, but does not create connections to related items in the way that Pinterest can.

The launch of Google Lens will surely shake up this market altogether, too. If Google can nail down automated object recognition (which it undoubtedly will), Google Lens could be the product that links traditional search to augmented reality. The resources and the product suite at Google’s disposal make it the likely winner in the long run.

Source: This article was published searchenginewatch.com By Clark Boyd

Categorized in Search Engine

Need a new show to watch? Bing helps make your options clear.

Bing users in search of their next Netflix binge may now have an easier time finding the perfect show. Microsoft announced a few updates to its search engine through a blog post, with one of them being entertainment search results showing content options from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

The update makes Bing smarter and better able to give you suggestions based on entertainment-related searches. Bing will show up-to-date information about trending search topics like “fall 2017 TV premieres,” as well as service-specific topics like “trending movies on Netflix.” Results show up in a carousel at the top of the results page, separated from webpage links, much like visual results in Google’s search engine. An image in the blog post shows that you can further filter search results by year, genre, and show rating.

Bing now also has a new “My Saves” section where you can save images and videos for later reference. To save media to your Saves section, you’ll only need to hover over the image or video and press the small plus icon that appears. Saves appears to be similar to a media-specific bookmark collection, with the option to make specific folders based on the types of media you want access to quickly (one folder in an image on the Bing blog is entirely dedicated to “favorite cat videos”).

Windows Phone may be dead, but Bing mobile search isn’t. The final new Bing feature in this update adds tabbed sections to search results on mobile devices. When searching movies, artists, and other types of entertainment, mobile searches will now display information through tabbed sections like “cast,” “showtimes,” and “reviews.” The first search results page is considered the “overview” tab, while the other category-specific tabs appear next to it, allowing users to more easily see specific information about any piece of entertainment.

Again, Microsoft took a page out of Google’s book with these mobile tabs. In general, they provide good organization to mobile search results while also providing more visual information compared to the slew of hyperlinks we’re used to seeing in desktop searches.

Source: This article was published arstechnica.com By VALENTINA PALLADINO

Categorized in Search Engine
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