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Microsoft’s Bing Pulse Goes Self-Service

Microsoft is bringing self-service into the mix with the launch of  Bing Pulse 2.0, the latest version of a real-time voting platform that has been used by several major broadcasters and cable networks. 

With Bing Pulse 2.0, still in beta form, Microsoft hopes to expand the reach and diversify the size and scope of partners that can tap into an audience feedback technology that’s been used by customers such as CNN, Fox News, CNBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, and the Clinton Global Initiative, among others.

Microsoft said its new version can essentially scale up or down – from ten people at meeting to a group, to a 5,000 at a ballroom, to a national TV audience.

Using real-time polling and feedback, including an option for the viewer to agree or disagree as often as every five seconds, the platform can essentially check the shifting sentiment of an audience.  The system , which has already tabulated more than 35 million votes, according to Microsoft estimates, can also be used to ask polling questions. As data is collected anonymously, the system uses on-screen graphics to show how the audience is responding.

One aim is to keep TV audiences engaged using the same second screen devices that have historically done a good job at distracted them.

As for the new self-service element, interested parties just need to sign up on via the Bing Pulse Web interface, where Microsoft then sets up and hosts the event via its cloud-based Azure platform. Audience members are then directed where to go using their PCs or mobile devices and to answer a few non-identifiable screener questions (such as gender, education or affiliation) before they can start pulsing away.

Producers have the ability to customize their Bing Pulse events, integrate the feature into their social media handles, or embed it as an iFrame into an event Web page.

“It doesn’t require a lot of high-tech mechanics,” said Josh Gottheimer, general manager of corporate strategy at Microsoft. “We’ve been perfecting it for almost two years.”

To spur interest, Microsoft is offering the 2.0 version at no cost through Jan. 31, 2015, with set-up access initially limited to the U.S., the United Kingdom and India (anyone can participate so long as they have a Web-enabled device and a way to view the event).

Once the brief, free run ends, the Silver package (30 Pulse minutes, two poll questions and unlimited participants and votes) runs $200-plus, while Gold (60 Pulse minutes, five poll questions and unlimited participants and votes) fetches $500 or more. A Platinum level tier goes unlimited across the board, and sells for $1,000-plus.