US Presidential Elections are an advertising campaign for Microsoft’s prediction and polling tools

Abhishek Baxi

David Rothschild, an economist with Microsoft’s research organization in New York, runs PredictWise, a personal project that hosts his probability forecasts about the outcomes of public contests including political elections, reality shows, and sporting events.

In a blog post, Microsoft has shared that Rothschild’s research on this personal project and his ‘method of aggregating that data to create forecasts’ helps several projects across different product groups at the company. His academic research on digital betting markets evolving with newer engagements points like online polling, web search, and social media data helps gauge public opinion and predict the outcome of future events.


Predictwise US Elections graph
Predictwise US Elections graph

That’s pretty much what one needs in an election season, really.

Bing Predicts uses anonymized, aggregated web search data and other information to drive several features associated with Bing’s election information. The platform taps into signals coming from aggregations of web data, known as the ‘wisdom of the crowd’, to capture and incorporate real-time information in the predictions.

How people act on the web correlates to how they vote.
– Walter Sun, Team Lead for Bing Predicts

Bing Predicts team also works closely with other product groups. On MSN, interactive polling widgets are used to engage visitors with the election coverage and Rothschild collaborates with the MSN team to develop the questions asked in its polling widget to generate a high response rate that drives projections of the voters.

MSN Elections poll
MSN Elections poll

Microsoft Pulse, an audience-response technology, is implemented by several television networks to retain audience attention during the presidential debates and engage with them on second screens with real-time questions that probe sentiment and feelings.

The Bing Predicts team in partnership with Cortana Intelligence offers a predictive analytics offering for enterprises where web, search, and social data could be used as a signal for sales forecasting for example. Rothschild believes that forecasting sports events and reality shows, and now the Presidential Elections is a validation for Microsoft’s enterprise offering and an ‘ultimate advertising campaign’.