Microsoft quietly buries Scroogled site

Microsoft’s much maligned “Scroogled” campaign is finally, completely dead, apparently. Winbeta spotted that the old Scroogled site ( now redirects to a higher-road “Why Microsoft” site. The vendor started pulling broadcast and print Scroogled ads last spring, but the web site had lived on until recently.

When Satya Nadella stepped up as [company]Microsoft[/company] CEO in February, I sort of figured both Scroogled and Mark Penn, the former Burson Marsteller PR head, Hilary Clinton strategist and pollster, might be on his way out as well. But such was not the case. Instead, he was promoted to chief strategy officer.

Microsoft brought Penn aboard in July of 2012 as corporate VP of strategic and special projects, reporting to then-CEO Steve Ballmer. His mandate was to focus on branding and positioning in the consumer arena. Hence, Scroogled, which is the high-tech equivalent of a negative ad campaign meant to paint [company]Google[/company] search as inferior, and more intrusive into your personal life, than Microsoft Bing search. It didn’t gain much traction.

Whatever you think of Penn, a Microsoft insider said, his polling background means he has a proficiency with stats (aka data) and he can talk a great game armed with his research — and Nadella loves data.

So Scroogled is dead but Penn lives on.


Pinterest explains how it’s making its search work better

It’s not just Netflix that’s taking search seriously through the use of recommendations. Pinterest is amping up its search capabilities to provide better results based on the words a user is searching for in relation to what other people may be searching for, the company detailed in a blog post on Monday.

Dong Wang, the Pinterest software engineer who wrote the post, explained that even though a user may search for the word “turkey,” it’s unclear what exactly that person may be looking for. Does he want to find turkey recipes, is he planning a trip to Turkey or is he just interested in poultry — it’s hard to say without some context.

If that person decides to search for “turkey recipes” as part of his next query, Pinterest takes that into account and can assume that the next person who may be searching for “turkey” might also be craving some turkey recipes as well; maybe it’s holiday season and everyone’s hungry. Pinterest learned that “the information extracted from previous query log has shown to be effective in understanding the user’s search intent” and this can be applied to other Pinterest users as well.

Pinterest uses a data-collection workflow called QueryJoin that helps with applying one user’s search queries and the data gleaned from those searches to other users in order to generate more relevant search results for everyone involved. QueryJoin contains data like search queries, demographic statistics, adjacent queries and pins.

Pinterest QueryJoin

Here’s some technical details on QueryJoin, per the blog post:
[blockquote person=”Pinterest” attribution=”Pinterest”]For each Pin, we have aggregated data from the PinJoin (the data collection of a cluster of Pins with the same image signature and the information about those Pins) as well as some engagement stats like the number of clicks, repins and likes.][/blockquote]

The data collected by QueryJoin is used in several Pinterest search functions such as autocomplete, guided search and search relevance.

Microsoft to Google: Bing it on

Microsoft has spent billions to make Bing a search contender against the heavyweight champ Google. Now it’s inviting users to judge for themselves with an online contest. Check it out and let us know how it goes.

Microsoft search guru outlines big Bing changes

Microsoft’s top search guy took to the Web Thursday to show off a refreshed interface for Microsoft’s Bing search engine, that he said better incorporates the user’s social media contacts in a new sidebar which brings in their Facebook and Twitter contacts input.

EU v Google: Why ask one question when you can ask 69?

French data watchdog CNIL has sent Google a list of 69 questions about its new privacy policy that it must answer within three weeks. But the poser that Europe really wants to find an answer to is a simple one: why?