A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Monthly Archives: February 2010


For Lent, I’ve decided to refrain from recreational checking of weblogs, Facebook and Twitter, starting February 17 until Easter Monday, April 5, 2010. I may be writing some weblog posts, and updating Facebook notes (and perhaps status), but after today, don’t expect to hear from me much except via the old ways, such as the Tele-Phone, Facsimile Transmission, and E-Mail. And F2F, of course.

“buy a house, sell a home?” redux

A while ago, I wrote about whether there was evidence that people tend to “buy a home and sell a house,” and used Google’s n-gram  data (based on web documents) to suggest this wasn’t the case. I happened to come across this post today, and wondered whether some of the query streams I have access to now might say something to this. I looked at our frequently “sell” or “buy” co-occur with “house” or “home” in a stream of about 36 million queries.

buy & home : 393
buy & house: 525

sell & home: 396
sell & house: 420

buy & home/buy & house: 0.74
sell & home/sell & house: 0.94
(buy & home + sell & home)/(buy & house + sell & house) : 0.83

Unlike the n-gram data, people are more likely to use “house” in queries that include “buy” or “sell,” (taken separately, or taken together). This may indicate that people searching for information on real estate tend to use “house,” while people advertising real estate tend to use “home” (“sell a home” was over 7.5x more likely than “sell a house” in the document-based ngram data). As far as people searching goes, they tend to “buy a house” and “sell a house.”

Google’s Superbowl ad

I really enjoyed Google’s Superbowl ad, in which a love story is told as a series of search queries:

  • study abroad paris france
  • cafes near the louve (sic)
  • translate tu es très mignon
  • impress a french girl
  • chocolate shops paris france
  • what are truffles
  • who is truffaut
  • long distance relationship advice
  • jobs in paris
  • AA120
  • churches in paris
  • how to assemble a crib

I was curious how Google would do “in real life” on these queries, as well as how Bing (my employer) does. Not surprisingly, Google does well on all these queries. I am pleased to state that Bing does well, too, although I have to admit that the specific results from the translate and “AA120” (a flight search) are not quite as succinctly done (yet!) as Google’s are. But all of the general and “local” queries (even the one with “Louvre” misspelled) are every bit as good as Google’s, and sometimes better presented. “Churches in paris”, I think, is nicer–showing images of churches first before the “local” search.

At this point, I’d claim that Bing really is as good or better than Google for general search–not based on this ad, of course, but from my daily use of both.

I also notice that the link clicked in the video for “how to impress a french girl” is now welcoming people who saw the Google ad.