Monday, March 06, 2006

Personalized Search

Personalized Search is considered to be one of the main steps in the evolution of search engines, but it is meant to retrieve MACRO CONTENTS, which means that even when you'll get the  most satisfying result for your query you may still get a lot of irrelevant information that will capture your attention and waste your time. QTSaver already minimizes this risk but imagine how it would be like to get Personalized Search microcontents from 20 documents on the same page!

Here are some excerpts I collected for those of you who want to have deeper knowledge of this issue.

 Personalized Search is viewed as one of the directions search may head in the future, as Search Engine Watch's Danny Sullivan pointed out at the Search Engine Strategies San Jose conference.  ChoiceStream CTO Michael Strickman pointed out that Personalized Search means different things to different people. By his definition personalization is any method that uses understanding of the user to provide better results.  He's found that consumers do have quite an interest in Personalized Search but they need more information before they'll be willing to participate.  A good example of Personalized Search, he said, is A9, which keeps track of searches and is able to retrieve the information to allow people to repeat those same searches at a later time.  Google is working on its own subject-based form of Personalized Search, where the user sets up a profile and search results can be filtered to the user's area of interest.  One form of personalization, attribute-based Personalized Search, uses an understanding of page content to improve the search results the user sees. ChoiceStream analyzes and scores pages by their attributes, looking for categories, the type of page (ex: product review sites, blogs, etc.), and the style.  Another problem is that many people don't want to reveal too much information…This seems to be a huge barrier to the success of Personalized Search.  There are also risks to Personalized Search, Michael said, including the risk of actually making the search results worse, rather than more relevant to the user. To be successful, the users' interests should also be the top priority and should always remain in control of what's considered relevant. Attributes must be chosen correctly, should reflect user interest, and also cut across many search categories.

 Personalized Search January 27, 2005 by Steve Johnson

 The real gains in terms of search relevance and, importantly, search-related revenue are on the horizon now with the advent of "Personalized Search. "Recently, there's been a lot of attention placed on Personalized Search with announcements from Yahoo!, Google, Eurekster, MSN and Amazon. So, what exactly is Personalized Search and how can it be used to drive revenue?

 Personalized Search is the fine-tuning of search results and advertising based on an individual?s preferences, demographic information and other factors. Presumably, the better a search engine understands a user's interests and preferences, the better able it is to target search results, advertising, sponsored links, etc.

 For example, suppose a user searches for information to help him plan a vacation to Aruba. Without Personalized Search, the user receives thousands of content links and ads based purely on their global relevance -- i.e., how relevant they are to consumers in general -- without regard for this individual consumer's lifestyle and interests. With Personalized Search, the results take on an entirely new level of relevance. Results returned to a budget-conscious traveler vacationing with his wife and children are different from those returned to, for example, a more upscale traveler who vacations with friends. These personalized results are first filtered according to a search engine's basic criteria, such as popularity, keyword relevance, etc., and then they are automatically tuned to meet the individual's specific needs.  It is easy to see how consumers benefit from this new technology: They receive targeted search results, ads, sponsored links and more that are tuned to their particular needs and interests. What is less obvious is the benefit of Personalized Search to agencies, advertisers and site marketers.

 The reality is that Personalized Search drives financial benefit to all of these constituencies -- both in the short term and long term. In the short term, advertisers increase revenue by targeting ads and promotions at the users who are most likely to click and buy. In the example above, advertisers could target value-oriented hotels, flights and other promotions to the budget traveler while offering an entirely different set of ads to upscale, sophisticated consumers.

 Studies show that consumers want personalization and are more willing to stay with sites and services that know them and respond to their specific lifestyles and preferences. Sites that employ Personalized Search automatically filter the Web for consumers based on their individual preferences. This saves consumers time and frustration, and bonds users to the site.

 Like Findory and A9 but unlike Yahoo and Ask, Google's search history feature is integrated into the main search on the site. Keeping search and clickthrough history is a first step toward Personalized Search. The next big step is to use this data to reorder search results, making the results more relevant to your particular interests and needs.

 In his article on Google's new search history feature, Chris Sherman says: Don't expect Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, MSN or AOL Search to stand still. Personalized Search has long been touted as one of the holy grails for the industry ...Beginning today with Google's launch of My Search History, I expect to see major leaps ahead in the arena of Personalized Search -- and that's a good thing. None of the search giants personalize search results yet. But, little guys like good old Findory have taken some early first steps, changing web search results in a limited way based on search and clickthrough history.

 Being first only helps if you push that advantage. A9 has gone in a few other interesting directions -- local search with photos and distributed search with OpenSearch -- but they haven't delivered anything new in Personalized Search for a year. Now it's looking like Google and Yahoo are positioned to lead in Personalized Search.

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