Sunday, February 04, 2007

Google expands personalization

Googlers Sep Kamvar and Marissa Mayer post on the Official Google Blog about expanding Google's personalization and recommendations.

Some extended excerpts:
We have two main ways of personalizing your Google experience. First, you can customize products and services like the Google Personalized Homepage. Personalizing your homepage gives you the at-a-glance information that you care about -- such as your latest Gmail messages, news headlines, or to-do list -- right at your fingertips, just the way you want it.

Second, we offer automatic personalization through things like personalized search and recommendations. Our goal with these types of technologies is to make your Google search experience better based on what we know about your preferences, without you having to do any extra work.

Today, we're taking another step toward making personalization more available to you by combining these two into a single signed-in experience. Now, when you're signed in, you'll have access to a personalized Google -- one that combines personalized search results and a personalized homepage.

Keep in mind that personalization is subtle -- at first you may not notice any difference. But over time, as the search engine learns your preferences, you'll see it. For example, as an avid Miami Dolphins fan (no joke), searching for [dolphins] gives me info about my favorite football team, while a marine biologist colleague gets more information about her salt-water friends.
The change, as described on this Google help page, is that anyone who signs up for a Google Account will be given a search history, a personalized home page, and individually personalized search results based on their past behavior.

Before, everyone had to explicitly enable search history and personalized search to get those features, so very few did. This change of the default will mean that many more people, anyone who has used a feature that requires a Google account, will see personalized web search results and the other personalization features when they go to Google.

See also Danny Sullivan's detailed review of the Google personalization features and his thoughts on the impact of making them more easily and widely available.

See also Eric Schmidt and Larry Page's comments on personalization from their recent Q4 conference call.

See also some of my previous posts ([1] [2] [3] [4] [5]) on Google's personalization.

See also my earlier post, "Potential of web search personalization".


Anonymous said...

This is awesome! Personalization is part of social search, relying more on people. There is a shift taking place from search engines having the power to search users getting empowered, from the head to the tail, from "few-to-many" to "many-to-many" publishing. Social search is changing the rules, shifting power to the people. Another way to think of it is Social Search is the 3rd big evolution of the search business after i) algorithmic search, ii) paid search models, and now iii) Social Search. Web 2.0 trends converge toward social search: social networking, consumer generated media, open platforms and syndication models, new user interaction models.

At first relevance was about i) "on-the-page criteria", then ii) about "off-the-page criteria" like meta tags, then about iv) Web connectivity and link authority like PageRank, and finally, now, about v) people, people networks and communities. Social search is the new deal and there is no turning back.


Anonymous said...

Ok, I wish that, when introducing personalization, someone would use an example other than things like this: For example, as an avid Miami Dolphins fan (no joke), searching for [dolphins] gives me info about my favorite football team, while a marine biologist colleague gets more information about her salt-water friends.

Is that really the extent of personalization? Word-sense disambiguation? ("Ah, I see from your search history that you like cars.. you must mean Jaguar the vehicle, not jaguar the animal")

This is nice and all, but if it is just a matter of disambiguation, an engine like Vivisimo already solves the problem: You get two clusters, one on cars, one on animals, and can pick the one that you really mean.

And the nice thing about this solution is that modification of your intent is trivially easy. Suppose this time you really did mean the animal, and not the car.. even though you usually search for cars. With Google, now that personalization is automatic, how are you suppose to say, "no, no, I mean jaguar not Jaguar"? Google will have already made the decision for you, and the only way you can turn it off is to log out of your Google account, do the "jaguar" search, then log back in again. That's.. bad.

But if there is more to personalization than sense disambiguation, why do they never tell a more compelling story? Why do we never hear an example of what personalization is, without it being tied to some sort of word-sense disambiguation?