Thursday, March 08, 2007

My Yahoo will add implicit personalization

Richard MacManus reports that a major revision of My Yahoo is about to start a private beta test.

Richard has already seen the beta and says that the features include a "pre-built personalized page for each user, based on data Yahoo has already gleaned from their usage of Yahoo properties."

In other words, My Yahoo will learn from your usage of Yahoo and builds you your own personalized page.

New implicit personalization features may not be limited to My Yahoo. Verne Kopytoff at SFGate reports that "Jerry Yang, the Sunnyvale company's co-founder, spoke [recently] about better tailoring Yahoo's iconic Web portal to individual users, with the help of technology that predicts what they want."

It appears that both My Yahoo and the Yahoo home page may soon adapt to your behavior and try to learn what you might want.

See also my May 2006 post, "Yahoo home page cries out for personalization", where I said, "To help me get where I want to go, the [Yahoo home] page should feature things I use at Yahoo. To help me discover new stuff, the site should recommend things based on what I already use."

I suppose I could also point to a bunch of past posts about the work on Findory over the last three years, but maybe just "Starting Findory: In the beginning" will do.

[Read/WriteWeb and SFGate articles found via Search Engine Land]

3 comments:

Joshua Porter said...

Hi Greg...any idea if implicit personalization in this case could be less than effective?

I've found that people often appreciate explicit personalization...when the actual changes are mentioned.

For example, on Netflix, it says "based on your past viewings we are recommending the following movies". (or something similar)

It seems to me that implicit might not be recognized for what it is...while explicit might be acknowledged as helpful.

The new My.Yahoo is nice in that it will show movies if I'm a movie guy, but if I don't know that then I'm not going to appreciate it.

I know that findory is implicit for the most part, any insights as to the benefits/drawbacks there?

Greg Linden said...

I think implicit personalization works well for people who will not bother with the effort of explicit customization (which, as it turns out, is the overwhelming majority).

Explicit personalization and customization features are useful in that they give more control and leverage to power users, including the ability to correct the inevitable mistakes the implicit personalization makes. Most people probably will not use these features because of the effort required, but they provide a lot of value for the people who do.

I do think that sites like Netvibes, Google Personalized Home Page, and My Yahoo eventually will have to embrace implicit personalization. Grandma is not going to configure widgets. The mainstream is going to have to see obvious and exceptional rewards to expend up-front effort in explicit customization and personalization.

Pascal Chesnais said...

This sounds a lot like the self-organization functionality in the MIT fishWrap system added by Douglas Koen in 1994. The presentation would adapt itself based on the user's reading habits. It was pretty clever and simplified the task of customizing on behalf of the user.