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Bing it on

Do you really prefer Bing? Microsoft thinks so

Stuart Thomas: Motorburn Editor
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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Ask someone to look something up on Bing and they’ll generally roll their eyes at you. It’s just not where you go when you want to search for something. That’s Google’s job and it does it better than anyone else.

Except it might not. Microsoft claims that in a series of blind tests people preferred Bing by a ratio of almost 2:1. The tests are part of the Redmond-based giant’s Bing It On challenge. The campaign essentially apes the Pepsi Challenge, which the soft drink company has been running since 1975.

In the challenge you get five searches, with the results presented side by side. You then declare a winner, or a draw, for each search result. It should be noted however that results exclude ads, Bing’s Snapshot and Social Search panes and Google’s Knowledge Graph.

The aim of Bing It On, says Microsoft, “is to show people it’s time to break the “Google habit” and that Bing has reached a quality level that will make it easy to switch.”

“It’s long past time in our industry for a conversation on search quality,” says Dr. Harry Shum, corporate vice president, Bing R&D. He added that the inspiration behind Bing It On had come from previewing its search results to people outside the company:

When we previewed our side-by-side test results with people outside the company, I was often asked how we were able to make these gains with presumably less data than the other guys. While there are too many variables to give a fully scientific explanation, I would say our long-term commitment and investment in machine learning for relevance has enabled us to steadily scale out relevance experimentation and make rapid progress.