Bing Blogger Challenge: The Results

Bing Blogger Challenge

As you guys know, this week I took the Bing Blogger Challenge for Alt Summit (we at APW love Alt Summit from the bottom of our heart, and Bing is sponsoring them this year, thank you Bing!). That means that all week, I used Bing as my search engine.

First, let me back up. It was recently pointed out to me that there are lots of people (people on the APW staff even!) that don’t really exactly remember the internet pre-Google. Which is crazy to me. I remember the exact moment I found out about this “crazy new site” Google, because it was literally the only search engine that had ever actually worked ever. (Me to David: Remember before? David: Ahahhaha Me: Like you’d find what you wanted on page five, if you had typed in ten of the precisely correct words?) Well this week I realized, that in my gratitude for finding a search engine that worked in 2000, it had sort of never occurred to me that there were now other search engines that worked, with totally different interfaces and advantages, and that these engines might have tools that were better than Google’s tools. Huh. Sometimes I’m dense.

So here is my experience of using Bing this week:

First up, breaking habits is always sort of strange. And it took me awhile to simply get used to a new interface. I’d type in a search, Bing would come up, and I’d spend a moment being shocked that the screen looked different. It’s weird to realize that you have this innate brand loyalty that you never even think about, and that breaking your habits actually rattles you. Apparently brands have a huge influence over my life, in ways I never consciously think about. But after those first few searches, I realized that Bing had tons of excellent tools.

Bing’s tag line and driving force is “Bing is For Doing.” Its focus is to get you the information that you need, right away, to do offline things. So as a result, their action-oriented searches were awesome for me. Let’s chat.

  • Bing Travel: You guys. How did I not know about this? The magic thing is it lets you search flights, and then gives you a price predictor. Are prices moving up or down? Should you book now, or later? Huge. Money. Saver. Just, yes, you’re going to want to check that out (fittingly, we used it to research flights to Salt Lake for Alt).
  • Searching restaurants on Bing: Bing has a three-column format. The main column gives you the main search results. The second column is what “Bing knows,” and for restaurants this is key. It will pull up the restaurant’s location on a map, give you the hours, give you a virtual tour (what? I know), and provide links to recent reviews. It gives you almost everything you need to know right on the search page, so you don’t have to fight with restaurants’ weird websites. Love.
  • Social Search: The third column on the Bing search is the “social” search, which is what makes it totally different from Google (and perfect to search for things you want to do, like eat out or travel). You sign in with Facebook, and then, say, if I search “restaurants downtown Salt Lake City” for our Alt trip, it will fill in people I know on Facebook who live in Salt Lake, or have traveled there recently, for me to ask. It will also give me experts on Twitter who might be able to help, like prominent Salt Lake City food bloggers. It’s sort of perfect for all of my travel searches, for starters, though I’m sure you can find a million uses for it.
  • Image Search: And then there is the Bing image search. It’s sortable, y’all! You can look for something, and then sort by black and white, or vertical, or head and shoulders images. The blogger in me wants to marry it.

Turns out, this week made me think a lot about how I interact with brands and the web. It made me more willing to seek out a better tool somewhere new, and break habits. It made me think about just how entrenched my habits are and how little I think about them.

So what about you? Did any of you try Bing this week? Did you take the Bing It On Challenge? (You should totally do that—it’s fun!) What were your experiences, positive or negative? And thanks to Alt Summit and Bing for sponsoring APW this week. You guys are awesome.

Photo: My Desk plus Bing

**This post was sponsored by Alt Summit & Bing. Thanks for helping make the APW mission possible!**

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  • Claire

    Hmm. I agree with Amy and Jessica. You say you’re going to write about your experience, positive and negative… where exactly is the negative? Google is the market leader because it’s the best, plain and simple.

    My review of bing: I hate the way the homepage image starts moving while I’m typing in the search box, and I hate the way the results display.

    I use Google Chrome, and therefore use the omnibar for searching – the hassle of navigating to bing in the first place is just not worth it.

    I think bing must be really USA-focussed, actually, because for example if I image search “Winchester” (a city near me in the south of England) on Google I get pictures of the inside of Winchester cathedral, snaps from around the city, a couple of guns, a map… On bing I get 2,140,000 photographs of guns and ammo. Brilliant.

    • Carrie

      I’m a Google lover and I agree with the annoying parts of Bing, but I think the Winchester search may be influenced by the fact that Google knows your location? I’m in the US and when I did the search in Google, I got mostly pictures of guns and ammo. Then when I tried the search in Google in incognito mode (where my cookies wouldn’t apply), it showed me more pictures of the city.

      Although, Bing did show guns and ammo as a default (as in, without knowing my location, since I’m not logged into Bing and never use it), so I think you’re right in that it may be US biased.

      • KC

        Bing technically knows your location as well – search for something like “coffee shops” to get local results (at least, this is what happened on my non-normally-using-Bing computer – it pulled up the local Starbucks). I’m assuming they’re using IP addresses similarly to the way non-logged-in, no-profile-established Google does.

        They may just not have fine-tuned the results that are not specifically “local search”-ish but which should be more geographically sensitive? I’m not sure if that wins a “less creepy” award or whether it’s just less useful, given that they do have your location anyway.

        • Claire

          Yeah, Google probably knows my location – I use Gmail and Google docs and calendar and stuff so my life is thoroughly Googleified. If I search “coffee shops” on Bing I get “Amsterdam Coffee Shops” as the first result then a map with a load of coffee shops in Birmingham (137 miles away from me). I think you’re probably right and it’s using my IP address for that, which never works!

          • KC

            In my experience, US companies’ IP-address-location-guessing is a fair bit better when in largish population centers in the US in most circumstances (although my experience abroad is pretty limited). I’m not sure whether that’s a difference in how the addresses are allocated (like some US phone area codes cover a lot weirder-shaped territory than others) or a difference in prioritization in correctly using the results (like the way maps services or translation services are usually prioritized by market share; they’re going to put a lot more effort into something that’s going to have more users, usually).

            And, related to localization/IP addresses, I took the “bing it on” challenge (Google still won overwhelmingly, but Bing is indeed returning better results than it used to, at least), and noticed that my “bing it on” searches are apparently routed through Redmond for both search engines, based on the “local search” results on both sides. I thought that was pretty funny, given this conversation! (possibly relevant: my current location is on the opposite coast from MS headquarters)

          • Amanda

            I also work in the software industry, specifically online services, and can assure you that both Google and Bing (and every other website you visit) know about where you are – not your address or anything, but at least what city you’re in. This is based on the IP address of your computer – it doesn’t matter whether you’re signed into anything. Depending on your settings (browser settings and search settings), search engines may also use things like what you’ve searched for in the past to try to provide you with results that will be more useful to you.

            This isn’t some tin-foil-hat post – web sites can’t track your exact location, and for the most part your information is as anonymized as you choose to make it – but I imagine that both search engines are using as much as possible to provide the best search results they can for you. Other sites like large content providers will look at how they’re performing in different parts of the country and the world to increase revenue: I worked for a website that would sometimes sell ads that would only run in the US, or even to a specific state or city. And then some people (ahem, me) just wonder where the small number of people who read their blog are coming from (hint: the two cities where my friends lived at the time).

            One final point: none of the information that Google has from you being signed into a Gmail account would get used for the Bing It On website – not only would Bing want to even the playing field, but there are security measures to prevent that sort of information to pass to another website you’ve opened in the same browser.

  • Fermi

    I did the bing challenge, and google won. I’m going to read the post again, but I agree with the top commenters, where is the negative part of the review of Bing?

  • Emily

    Speaking to just one point here, and with at least one caveat – I am not on Facebook and recognize that I am in the minority at this point. Second caveat to come later…

    Is it not slightly disturbing that one could type in a restaurant and see that Jane and Bob dined there the other night, and that Sally had the pasta and didn’t like it? Too much information? Too Big Brother? And it’s all out there, and there’s known research that these search engines do keep information about us on “file.” Perhaps I’m too paranoid (second caveat) but if I want to know if my friends ate at and liked a restaurant, I’ll email them or perhaps even be really old fashioned and pick up the phone.

    • KTH

      To be fair (and I also agree with the first couple of comments), if you’re seeing where Jane and Bob dined and what Sally had to eat, it’s because those people posted on Facebook about it, AND you’re friends with them. So chances are you would have seen it in your Facebook feed.

      On the whole, though, I agree.

  • Amelie

    google won for me. i only use bing for their price predictor!

    • Caitlin

      Agreed! That exact same price predictor used to be an independent site called “Farecast” before Bing bought it. It’s the only reason I ever use Bing now.

      • Stephanie

        Try Kayak for travel. They also have fare predictors, but lots of other features too (+/- 3 days searches, easy way to check out additional airline fees, price alerts, saved ticket history, etc). I travel a lot and Kayak is far and away my favorite travel site.

        I also really dislike Bing. I’m a committed Googler.

  • Another Kate

    The biggest perk of Google, in my opinion is that I use gmail, chrome, google +, Picasa, etc….google “knows” me, and my searches are targeted to me. The longer/more I use it, the better my results are. Bing is like starting from scratch. And the interface is terrible.

  • Maddie

    Hey Guys,

    Meg is on maternity leave right now, which means that she isn’t able to respond to her own post, so I’m going to do my best to speak for her.

    Unfortunately this conversation got really off topic this morning. We basically have just two major commenting rules on APW, which are: don’t insult the author and don’t derail the conversation. So while we respect and appreciate your thoughts on sponsorship, the place to voice those opinions is not in a sponsored post. They take the conversation far enough away from the spirit of the original post that the content gets lost, so I’ll be deleting any comments that take the conversation in that direction.

    I will address one point, though, which is that we always disclose sponsored content. It was clear in this post and the introductory post that this week was being sponsored by Alt and Bing. Historically APW readers (myself included) have really enjoyed hearing Meg’s thoughts about Alt, and these posts are making that possible. Of course, as with any sponsored content, you are always welcome to not read these posts. But it’s how we are able to bring you the rest of the non-sponsored content you enjoy the rest of the week.


    • E.

      Out of curiosity: where is the place to voice opinions on sponsors if not on their sponsored posts?

      • meg

        Hi guys, I’m weighing in from maternity leave. First, if you have a problem with one of our small business sponsors (aka, they don’t live up to our sanity pledge, they don’t treat you well) we want to know right away, we want to know. Please drop us an email.

        When it comes to partnerships with brands, I need to be very clear that APW is a for profit business, with a large overhead. For me to keep APW online, I have to support both a staff and a family. The bottom line is, I don’t crowd source my business decisions. We understand not everyone is going to be comfortable with those decisions, and that is of course fine. The APW mission is to support healthy conversation on topics around marriage, feminism, and weddings. There is a wonderful community around the site discussing those topics, but I want to be 100% clear here, as I always have been: APW is a for profit site, we’re not a non-profit community center. That’s not right for everyone, and not everyone is going to want to read, given that truth, and I respect that.

        However, we have a comment policy that we enforce, and our goal has never been to provide a way to discuss the APW business model. Feel free to include comments on this post with positive and negatives about Bing, I’m all for that. That said, comments about our business model will be removed, which is always our policy. My business choices are not up for discussion. This is consistant with how I’ve run my business from day one: we’re a moderated site, always have been, always will be.

        We have a question that covers both sponsors and partnerships in our annual reader survey which is coming up, and we’d love to hear your opinion then. There are always those of you that are going to be uncomfortable reading a for profit site, and choose to take your readership elsewhere. That’s been the case for the past four and a half years, and will continue to be the case. I’m comfortable with that.

        That said, we will continue to abide by our comment policy, and I will continue making decisions that are right for my business. In this case, I chose to write about Bing not to make huge amounts of money to support the site (though that’s also a decision I would have been comfortable making), but because I wanted to support Alt Summit, which I believe in. But at the end of the day, I’m the one making those decisions, I stand by them, and I stand by your right to read or not read the site.

        This comment thread will continue to be moderated, and comments about Bing will be left live.

    • Cassandra

      So I have a question re: where we should make these comments and how we can comment on sponsored posts (or rather, non-typical sponsored posts, because usually the sponsored posts have that little blurb at the top, right?).

      I left maybe the 7th or 8th comment this morning and did expect that my comment (and a number of others) would be deleted/moderated because of what I’ve seen happen in the past. But I’m very curious as to what some of the deleted comments (because I read all those before mine that got deleted in addition to my own) did to ‘derail’ the conversation – mine and several others simply pointed out that the review said it would talk about the negatives and the positives, and there were frankly no negatives in the review, which many of us had experienced using Bing in the past, and mentioned in our comments. I’m assuming the final line of my comment (which I won’t repeat out of respect to y’all) is what got my comment deleted, but it feels a little uncomfortable that we as readers can’t share an experience with a service in a non-personally attacking way. I (and I’m pretty sure everybody) get that sponsors are necessary to run this business and y’all of course want us to be respectful of the sponsors, especially the small business sponsors, but it feels a little weird not to be able to say “I don’t like Bing because of X.” I would have imagined it would fall under the ‘constructive disagreement’ area of the comment policy, but it seems that this isn’t the case. Would one of y’all feel comfortable explaining this, because I would hazard a guess that I’m not the only one who would like clarification.

      (Because ‘internet tone’ is not always clear, I’d like to say I’m not grumpy about being moderated and being snarky in my questions here. I wouldn’t want it to come across that way and I’m hopeful that it didn’t, but to be clear, I’m asking respectfully for clarification if you’re willing and able to so that all of commenters can understand on this front, and not to question the moderation choices y’all make, because that’s totally your call obviously.)

      • Maddie

        Hey Cassandra,

        That’s a good question. In this case, we really do want to know what you think of Bing, but most of the comments this morning were either a criticism of our business choices or the way the post was approached. So in this case, “I don’t like Bing because of X” is totally appropriate and welcomed and on point with the post, but “This feels gross to me/I don’t like that you’re working with this company” isn’t what this post was about and takes the conversation in a totally different direction. At the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to tone, and us having to make a judgment call about whether or not an offhand comment negates an otherwise smart response to the post.

        Does that make more sense? And without going back through the comments, if there was part of your comment that you think might have gotten it deleted, that’s probably why.

        I don’t want to take this too much further because we did officially ask for the conversation to end, so I’m hoping the rest of the comments can stay on track, but I did want to acknowledge your question and thank you for approaching it so diplomatically.

        • Cassandra

          Thanks, Maddie! I appreciate the clarification (even though I can understand how some readers feel re: this kind of thing) and really appreciate how quickly and straightforwardly you responded.

  • Other Katelyn

    So, disclosure, I work for Microsoft (but not on the Bing team). That said: I’ve been using Bing solidly for about a year and really, really like it. The tools, image search and social search are where it shines, IMO. It’s convinced me to switch at home, too, so I’m not using Google for search unless I’m on someone else’s computer– and far from feeling like I’m missing out, I feel like I have a value-added search experience because I use Bing.

  • Bing is all over the internet today. So I finally took their challenge. I chose Google 4/5 times… but I think that’s just because it looks so familiar! I DO like the sortable image feature though!

    • Claire

      Just thought I would pop in here and say that Google image search is sortable too, by size, style, and colour – though not by “head and shoulders shot” or similar. Though you could probably add that to your search criteria for it to work.

  • Cleo

    First of all, I definitely remember the internet pre-Google. There was even a Science Olympiad event that was about finding answers to questions through web-browsing/search engines the fastest. I wasn’t chosen for that event, but went to a few practices and there were lists of things you had to remember, like HotBot was good for this kind of search and Yahoo! might be good in general, but watch out for x,y,z things. It was ridiculous. Then Google and Wikipedia came and now, I wonder if that event still exists.


    I have an XBox with Kinect. One cool feature is that you can do a Bing search with your voice. It’s been very useful to me when I want to figure out the name of the movie I want to watch on Netflix (on my XBox) or the game I had demo’ed the other day. I’m really happy about how the search engine is integrated into the system.

    However, I, like others have said above, use the Google Chrome omnibar for most searches (takes away one step of going to the search engine homepage) and I’m a fan of Kayak for airline fares.

    Bottom line, for me, is convenience, and Google is more convenient most of the time.

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      I loved Dogpile back in the day because it gave me results from a bunch of different search engines. You prompted me to look, and it still exists, but I doubt I’ll ever use it. At very first glance it didn’t look promising enough to be worth breaking my habits.

      My favorite part of this post was the thought of how ingrained some of my brand loyalty is. I actually chose to read the sponsored post, because I decided it’s good for me to question my default to the Googs. That said, I was hesitant to because I didn’t want my inner Meg’s Voice in my brain when I do a search. I wonder if some of the resistance to this type of sponsored posts (as opposed to the more frequent small business sponsor posts) is because the larger businesses tend to be something many of us will use in the everyday. The search happens more often than I realize while the special occasion photography happens rarely and only after considered thought.

  • katieprue

    Sigh… I had a nice comment about the reviewing/sponsorship debate but hey, it really isn’t the right spot. I’ll just say that I consider APW a trustworthy source of information, and I’m way more likely to randomly try Bing because “oh yeah, they talked about this on APW…” I haven’t really used it much because Google is so ingrained in my online habits. The travel function sounds interesting. I’ve used Kayak and I like the app, but the site is a big meh.

  • My only interaction with Bing so far has been the fact its the mapping software for Facebook, and as such, I dont really like it… Trying to location-tag my photos from a trip to Europe, type in Venice, and it gives me several location options, all of which are shops in Paris or Rome… Does not inspire confidence to give it a go outside of that situation!

  • Cass

    I give this a try this week and sorry to say, Google won. I’m a researcher and student writing lots of papers so the integration with Google Scholar when looking for sources is essential for what I do on the web most days. The social search is a nice feature though!

  • jules

    I remember boolean searches to be able to get results, altavista and ask Jeeves… I was also on the old fashioned even by then newsgroups… Ahhh the good old days. Why yes, i do remember dialups and evn schoolwork without internet of any kind. Research done in encarta and, gasp!, outdated encyclopedias! I have yet to retry bing… I did test run it a couple of years ago.
    Maybe one day, we’ll be saying… Remember when you had to type in a computer to find something out?

    • Natalie

      Thank you for reminding me about Encarta! So many middle school reports written thanks to dear ol’ encarta…

      • I was in French immersion, and had a computer before most of my teachers. I handed in more than one junior high report that was basically a direct translation of an Encarta article.

  • huh, I don’t know man. The social search is the number one reason I *avoid* bing.

    I’m uncomfortable with the idea of friends being able to see where I’ve been or which restaurants I’ve been to or whatever by conducting a search. Sure, I might say to a friend, “hey, I’m traveling to X next week” but then when they’re planning a trip to the same place they could ask me about it–in person.

    I won’t be using Bing for the same reason I don’t check in on facebook or use foursquare. There is just some information that I believe should remain private, for my safety and sanity.

    (And I just want to be extra cautious about my privacy on the internet in general. I mean, my google search history could reveal secrets about me that NOBODY knows. I don’t want to put my searches near anything “social”. Same reason I’m terrified of google+)