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Microsoft Bing Rolls Out 5 Upgrades to Search Results

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Bing’s latest updates have one thing in common – they all combine visually rich imagery with text-based information in a single view. The experience is described as more intuitive and engaging.

The new format is said to deliver information quickly and in a way that allows searchers to find what they need without scanning large blocks of text.

Bing’s upgraded search features include:

  • Intuitive highlighting of content
  • Integrated visual search
  • Expandable carousels
  • Infographic-like SERPs
  • Richer results for local queries

Here’s more details about each of the updates announced today.

Intuitive Highlighting

Bing is upgrading SERPs so they adapt to intuitively highlight content the searcher is engaging with.

A provided example demonstrates how this feature works with search results for recipes. You can see how Bing presents the initial results in a unique card-based format.

Microsoft Bing Rolls Out 5 Upgrades to Search Results

When a user clicks on one of the results, Bing extracts the information related to the recipe and displays it inline without leaving the search results page.

Microsoft Bing Rolls Out 5 Upgrades to Search Results

The expanded view contains information such as:

  • Ingredient list (with possible substitutions)
  • Calories per serving
  • User reviews
  • A drop-down menu to scale the recipe to a specific number of servings
  • Nutritional information

To get the step-by-step cooking instructions searchers will still have to visit the actual web page.

Recipes are just one example. This feature may also be applied to other types of searches such as home improvement and creative projects.

Integrated Visual Search

While browsing through the card-based results as shown above, users will have the option to instantly conduct a visual search to find similar-looking items.

Bing has integrated the visual search button into these results, which allows users to conduct an image-based query with just a click.

Microsoft Bing Rolls Out 5 Upgrades to Search Results

“While exploring these visual results, you might see something you like but is difficult to describe with words. That’s why we’ve also integrated visual search into the experience, so you can quickly search using an image.

For example, in the “DIY coffee table” result, you may see wicker baskets that fit the table’s look and feel. With just a click, you’ll get image results of similar-looking items, and can directly click off to retailer sites to purchase a particular basket if you’re sold on it.”

Expandable Carousels

Bing is upgrading its carousels with a feature that displays additional information when users hover over the results

You can see in this search for movies how hovering over a result shows details such as when the film was released, a synopsis, and review scores from multiple sources.

Microsoft Bing Rolls Out 5 Upgrades to Search Results

Infographic-like SERPs

An upgrade that Bing says provides “style and substance” presents results in an infographic-like experience which combines text and imagery.

“For example, you can search for broad topics like “Kenya” or “giraffes”. Results for these move beyond a dense summary of text results and blue links, and aggregate the top text and visual results into an infographic-inspired experience. Curiosity piqued? Click off to sites that contain more detail or explore other related topics.”

See below for an example of the old experience compared to the new experience.

Microsoft Bing Rolls Out 5 Upgrades to Search Results

Microsoft Bing Rolls Out 5 Upgrades to Search Results

Local Search Upgrades

Bing is applying many of the same design principles shown throughout this article to local search results.

Conducting a general search about an area or landmark, like “things to do in Seattle” or “Eiffel Tower”, will return a SERP with aggregated information from multiple sources.

The upgraded local search experience combines results from Bing Maps, top images, visitor reviews, and more.

In a single view users can learn more about a location or attraction with a comprehensive overview, instead of a single carousel of images or a simple text summary.

Microsoft Bing Rolls Out 5 Upgrades to Search Results

Another example below shows how Bing adapts this new search experience to list-centric queries like “best rivers to visit” or “most interesting volcanoes”.

Microsoft Bing Rolls Out 5 Upgrades to Search Results

Many of these features are now live in Microsoft Bing. The local search features will be launching in the US only over the coming weeks.

Source: Microsoft Bing Blogs

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MICROSOFT

Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard Inc. for $68.7 billion

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Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard Inc. for $68.7 billion

Today, Microsoft announced plans to acquire video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. for $68.7 billion. When the deal is completed, Microsoft will become the world’s third-large gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony, according to a company statement.

Game franchises from Activision, Blizzard and King studios that are part of the deal include “Warcraft,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush.” Bobby Kotick will continue as CEO of Activision Blizzard. When the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

Why we care. This is a giant acquisition for audiences and content production. Gamers will have new options as the industry shifts and continues to evolve. Subscribers to Microsoft’s Game Pass portfolio, for instance, will benefit from the launch of Activision Blizzard games into that service. But that’s just 25 million subscribers in Game Pass. Activision Blizzard boasts nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190 countries.

Looking ahead maybe two years or more, the metaverse promises to be an all but limitless virtual reality layer built on top of the internet. Gaming companies already have deep experience with in-game advertising, and the metaverse could take that space to a whole new level. Whether Microsoft has this in mind, we don’t know, but this acquisition boosts Microsoft Gaming’s position as one of the biggest gaming companies in the world.

Kim Davis contributed to this article.


Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. 

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Why Microsoft’s Cortana Was Almost Called “Bingo”

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Microsoft almost named its Cortana voice assistant after the Bing search engine. But, the company changes its plans after Steve Ballmer’s retirement.

While Microsoft discontinued the Windows Phone in 2017, its AI-enabled assistant Cortana continued to live on iOS and Android until March 31, 2021. Plus, it still exists in Windows PCs to this day.

In an interview by Alice Newton Rex, former Microsoft Product Manager Sandeep Paruchuri tells the origins of Cortana’s name and what it could have been named instead.

Cortana Was Almost Called Bingo

According to the Big Bets newsletter, Cortana was supposed to be called Bingo. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wanted to name its new AI assistant after Bing in an ode to its search engine.

Ballmer reportedly wanted all its products to be Microsoft-branded. With Bing being a critical part of its AI recommendation system, it’s easy to make the connection with the name Bingo.

In addition, Microsoft’s AI assistant would be able to use its existing legacy branding to help propel its next generation of products.

Thankfully, Ballmer was on his way out, and his successor, Satya Nadella, had other plans. Not only was the AI-enabled assistant given the green light for release, but it also got to keep its much-loved name, Cortana.

The Role of Halo in Cortana’s Naming

Named after the fictional Halo character, also an AI assistant, Cortana was initially supposed to be just a name used in development. Serving as an advisor to the player character, Master Chief, Cortana is an in-game AI that every Halo player is familiar with.

Acting as a metaphor, Sandeep mentioned how the development team believed she was the perfect metaphor for their goals, an assistant that was always looking out for you.

As featured in Microsoft’s 20th-anniversary documentary, Power On, Halo plays a crucial role in Microsoft’s history. With its release, Halo was a revolutionary title among FPS games, and it played a vital role in putting Microsoft’s Xbox on the map.

The massive PR frenzy that accompanied the leaked name of the AI as Cortana was too much to ignore. With long-time Xbox players and Halo fans behind it, Cortana became one of the selling points of its now defunct Windows Phone platform.

What’s in Cortana’s Name?

They say art imitates life, but in Microsoft’s case, it’s the opposite. Who could have known that an inside joke among developers could lead to naming one of its products after a video game character?

While Microsoft could’ve named Cortana after Bing, its leak saved us all the embarrassment of calling out Bingo out in public. Although Bingo would have been an interesting callback to Microsoft’s popular service, it doesn’t have the same futuristic ring as Cortana.

For this reason, Microsoft’s choice to choose Cortana over Bingo seems to be the better one. Unfortunately, it still couldn’t save Cortana from being shut down by Microsoft for good.

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MARKETING

Microsoft Advertising Launches Health Insurance Ads

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Microsoft Advertising announced a new ad format for Bing Search named health insurance ads. Microsoft said advertisers are already seeing a 4X increase in return on ad spend (ROAS) and lower costs per acquisition (CPAs) with this new format.

Microsoft Advertising Health insurance ads are “intent-triggered rich placements that provide real-time information to consumers and inspire action, all with no keywords required,” Microsoft said. These are positioned on the right rail of the Bing search engine results page running alongside mainline text ads, you can showcase your healthcare plans more prominently than ever.

Here is what they look like:

click for full size

Health insurance ads are dynamically generated based on the data you specify in your feed file, such as your plan type, the organization category, federal registration status, and URLs. The more details you provide in the feed file, the more information Microsoft can include in your ads.

These ads give you:

  • Customized ads: Submit and schedule your feed, and based on the attributes you provide, Microsoft will create relevant, personalized ads.
  • Improved return on ad spend: See more volume, increased click-through rates (CTR), and lower cost-per-click (CPC) rates.
  • Time-saving automation: With no keywords required, the ads are created by feed files that use Microsoft AI automation and are fully equipped for bulk upload.

To sign up for the beta for Health insurance ads, you first need to reach out to your Microsoft Advertising rep or contact the Microsoft support team. Once you are in the beta, you will need to provide a feed. A comprehensive feed with rich attributes such as image URLs and contextual keywords is critical for your success with Health insurance ads.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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