Predictions with Bing

As Yogi Berra once said, “it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

One of the most interesting aspects of search engines is their ability to process trillions of signals to reflect what is happening in the real world. For instance, during the presidential elections, Bing experiences a surge of positive and negative queries about the presidential candidates from different parts of the U.S. Taking this model even further, teams within Bing have been experimenting with useful ways that we can harness the power of Bing to model outcomes of events. This could be anything from an election or sporting event to whether an actor will win the People’s Choice Award.

Today we are bringing these insights directly to our search results pages. Based on a variety of different signals including search queries and social input from Facebook and Twitter, we are unveiling an experiment we’ve built to give you our prediction of the outcome of a given event. For example, our first iteration, live on Bing.com today, attempts to predict which contestants are most likely to be eliminated or move on to the next round of voting shows like The Voice, American Idol and Dancing With The Stars.

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How does it work?  To trigger the feature, simply search for The Voice or a current contestant on the program. Based on your search, we will display a carousel that provides our estimation of who is on top, who is in danger and who is likely to be eliminated. Here are a few sample queries:

How do we make the predictions for The Voice?

The central idea behind the direct approach is that winners and losers correspond to popularity. In broad strokes, we define popularity as the frequency and sentiment of searches combined with social signals and keywords. Placing these signals into our model, we can predict the outcome of an event with high confidence. For The Voice, our model is tuned to account for biases, such as regional preferences, and other measurable and observable trends. We have also learned how to combine the prior popularity of a contestant with the contribution due to his or her performance. Although we might believe that the outcome of this week’s The Voice comes down to how well someone belts out a tune, our data indicates that many people have ‘favorites’ regardless of individual week-to-week performances.

We hope you’ll give the feature a try and see how well our predictions line up for tonight’s episode of The Voice.

You can expect more from us in this area beyond predictions for voting shows like The Voice, American Idol and Dancing With the Stars. In the meantime, let us know what you think on Twitter (@Bing.com.)

- The Bing Predictions Team