Smart Motion Preview and SafeSearch

One of the things we noticed in looking at how customers use search is the number of times people clicked the Back button in their browser soon after clicking on a search result.  When we dug into this, we found that people who clicked on the Back button quickly often did so because they were disappointed with the page they went to.  We call this ‘destination disappointment.’ 

We’ve been focused on this problem for a while.  In fact this was the driving reason we introduced a feature named Smart Motion Previews to our video results well more than a year ago.

There has been a bunch of conversation about this feature of late, and so we wanted to provide some context and hopefully answer some questions people have been asking.

First, let’s explain what it is and how it works.  The idea behind Smart Motion Previews is to give people the equivalent of a movie trailer for video results.  When we crawl videos, we create short previews (never more than 30 seconds, made up of a few very short clips) that reflect what our video crawling technology thinks are the most relevant parts.  We look at the audio levels for instance to see a big play in a sports video (based on the applause from a monster dunk, for example).

What’s cool about the technology is that it helps you decide if it is a video you want to go watch.  This makes it easier to sort through the clutter of all those results and help you get to what you are looking for.  And as a publisher, when people leave Bing for your site (and require bandwidth on your servers) it tends to be higher quality traffic because folks are sure of what they wanted to watch.  Plus, we think it’s pretty cool.

One important conversation going on right now is about unwanted adult video content within this feature.  To start with, by default in Bing (and in Live Search before it), we do not return explicit adult content in video or image results. In web results, we also do not include any explicit images or video content by default.  This is a bit more of a conservative approach than others in the industry.  If you set SafeSearch to strict, you will not see any explicit text, image or video content. If you turn SafeSearch off – which requires you to change the setting and then click again to acknowledge that you are over 18, then explicit content may appear.

We think our current search safety settings are solid but at Microsoft we are always working on pushing this stuff farther.  We also are listening to customers, and some have told us they want more control and they want it now.  In particular some folks who manage corporate networks have asked for tools now to enforce SafeSearch settings at the network level.  So for right now, we wanted to let people know that you can add “&adlt=strict” to the end of a query and no matter what the settings are for that session, it will return results as if safe search was set to strict.  The query would look like this: (yes it is case sensitive).

This short term work-around should work with lots of popular firewall and safety products, as well as for larger, managed network environments.

In the next couple of months we will formalize this work so that a broader range of partners, applications and tools can take advantage of this functionality more easily.  In addition, we are looking for more ways to give consumers more control to ensure that Bing gives them a great search experience.


Mike Nichols, General Manager, Bing.