How Bing predicts the outcome of cricket matches and gets it right.
Howzatt for Bing!
A hush fell across India on Sunday, the 15th of February 2015. Roads were deserted, malls were abandoned and markets were emptied. Eyes blinked less and nails were bitten more, as India sat down to watch the India-Pakistan match en masse, on the edge of their seats.
India versus Pakistan on any cricket field is guaranteed to send pulses quickening and the social debates raging. But when it is on a stage as grand as the World Cup, to an estimated audience of one billion*, it makes for the kind of spectacle that few other sporting showdowns can rival. It’s not just about the result, it is ONLY about the result.
6 hours later, a synchronized cheer was heard across India as it emerged a winner. Just as Bing had predicted it.
Bing’s predicting streak began with the FIFA World Cup. After correctly predicting 15 out of the 16 knockout stage games, it went on to predict the outcomes of various other big ticket events including the Super Bowl, The Golden Globes, The Grammys and more recently, The 87th Academy Awards.
Bing then set its sights on the 2015 ICC World Cup.
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 U.S. presidential elections, Bing experienced a surge of positive and negative queries about the presidential candidates from different parts of the country. Taking this model even further, teams within Bing have been experimenting with useful ways that they could 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.
How does Bing make the predictions for The Cricket World cup?
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 predictions are powered by Bing’s Prediction Engine, which makes assessments based on each team’s previous record as well as a number of other factors like performance in current tournament matches for a team. In addition to this, signals from the web and social channels are contextualized to understand the aggregate wisdom of the expressive crowd. The model doesn’t rely heavily on any one element but rather has the advantage of dynamically and continuously adapting up to the start of the game in an innovative way to give users the best possible prediction.
To accommodate sudden factor variations like injured players or weather, the model is run periodically to update the match probability right up to 24-hours prior to the match.
Bing identified 3 main areas for cricket experiences: key scenarios based on query volumes, differentiators based on competitive analysis which included predictions, quiz, polls and trivia, and finally other partner experiences on Bing, such as home page, relevance and ranking and Lock Screen App that were crucial to provide a holistic cricket experience to users.
An interface that brought together aesthetics with effortless and intuitive navigation was created before the coding cycle begun. Licensed feeds were identified to support the scenarios and create the back-end infrastructure as per designs.
During the development phase, quick user feedback sessions helped understand if experiences would help users or not. Feedback was periodically assimilated and course corrections were made.
Given the market dynamics, Bing has made a conscious effort to walk the path of mobile-first doctrine and create a world-class experience on mobile that includes search experiences on Bing as well as cricket updates to recently released picturesque Lock Screen App. In addition, Bing also focuses on how to proactively connect with users, with these experiences.
Of course, while being quite successful, Bing doesn’t have a 100 percent success rate, for example, the statistics were skewed towards South Africa winning their first match. Seldom had India bowled as consistently well, or fielded even more brilliantly, against a side as accomplished and highly ranked as South Africa. So when the match results proved contrary to their prediction, Bing gave in graciously by tweeting: #IndvsSA Congratulations India for outperforming & smashing the odds! Delighted to have you prove #BingPredicts wrong.
And as Niels Bohr once famously said, ‘Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.’ And as Bing has managed to not get it wrong too often, it must be doing something right. Bing has surely hit a boundary with this one. Here’s to Bing being the search engine of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
Want to try it for yourself?
Simply search for “ICC Cricket World Cup 2015” or similar queries on Bing. Based on your search, you will see a rich and engaging experience that covers Bing’s predictions for the up-coming match apart from schedule, scorecard for in-game and post-game scenarios, quizzes, polls and trivia.
WHERE HAS BING PREDICTIONS BEEN USED BEFORE?