Google Getting More Personal Why You Should Care

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Google has stepped up the personalized SERP's and is now serving them to everyone who has a google account and is logged in. For an in depth look at exactly what's happening check out SEL Google Ramps Up Personalized Search.

Personally I'm not a big fan of it, to be more specific I'm a big fan of them not telling me when I'm getting personalized and allowing me to toggle it off like they used to. I understand that I'm in the minority of people who want that feature, but since it was already there why remove it? Unless of course it's more about obfuscating data from the web publishing community like the "link:" command and more recently the "site:" command. I'm also not a big fan of obligating people who want search history left on to take personalized search. I can see how personalized results would be dependent on history but not the other way around. The only out of the plan is to log out, and then log back in which is annoying to say the least, or completely de-activate your search history with your google account (if you don't have an account, aren't logged, or have search history turned on the page won't work).

From a marketers perspective the need to get your URL passing through people's google toolbars, google bookmarks, google rss readers, gmail, and each and every part of the Google data gathering machine is growing more and more important in this increasingly personalized SERP world. If you aren't taking steps to understand how this all works you are going to be missing out on first hand knowledge. At this point ignoring and trying to avoid being part of the Google Borg might be to your disadvantage.

Comments

Video

It's not limited to SERP's it's spreading Google Video Getting Personalized, ACK!

I'll go out on a limb here

I'll go out on a limb here on TW and blurt out my immediate thoughts: I think this will stop sooner rather than later, until Google figures it out. Because I think if they don't stop, they will hurt their own search engine business.

I think a point that sold

I think a point that sold Google - especially in the earlier days - was the ability to suggest pages and sites as relevant that you wouldn't normally have been able to find.

I think the real danger of personalisation - as a user - is that Google could end up being more concerned with telling me where people have been, rather than the places that best match my interests on their *own* merits.

If I'm looking for quiet tropical beaches, would personalisation really deliver those, or simply deliver the popular concrete-clad resorts simply because that's where people are going?

Possibly a poor analogy, but as a user, that would be a concern.

2c.

You are right Brian

Quote:
I think a point that sold Google - especially in the earlier days - was the ability to suggest pages and sites as relevant that you wouldn't normally have been able to find.

I think the real danger of personalisation - as a user - is that Google could end up being more concerned with telling me where people have been, rather than the places that best match my interests on their *own* merits.

My feelings on this as well.

make that 3c.

>If I'm looking for quiet

>If I'm looking for quiet tropical beaches, would personalisation really deliver those, or simply deliver the popular concrete-clad resorts simply because that's where people are going?<

Is it possible they would deliver what paid them or served them the best and try to make it look like it was unbiased?

That, to my mind, is the REAL threat. Does it matter that their perception becomes the publics' reality?

I asked back in 2002 and I'm asking again, who decides what is relelvant and what comes up on top when you search for things like:
Presidential candidate
(who's blogs are they going to put on top making it appear that is the most relelvant?)

religion
(what sources are they going to put on top to define God?)

I could go into world events, finance, politics, history, technology and more with the examples but the point is, if information is power, who has the power to display that information in such a way as to alter perception? Where does the power lie, in giving you what you think you want or in changing what you think?

We can talk about features that allow you to move, suggest, remove, add to or turn upside down the displays all day long, but we here all know, (I'm kind of guessing the people building these wonderful new better-world-building tools know as well), that all the tiny little buttons linking to 4000 word TOS pages does not change the FACT that the vast majority of the public will simply enter a term and assume the first set of results is THE most important.

Now that these displays are flying under the flag of personalization, it is pretty easy to sell the idea that, "WE had nothing to do with the results. YOU changed the results by your behaviour". And who is to argue? Does there come a point when your behaviour is altered to match the displays and does it even matter?

I'm sure it is all purely altruistic and the only driving force is to unselfishly help the world, but it does kind of give personalization a whole new twist.

It is a worry Massa but I'm

It is a worry Massa but I'm more inclined to think that the value will be in the demographics data, which in turn will help evolve their KW tools for Adsense (target marketing), and KW/phrase discovery.

ThePost

What demographics data?

What demographics data? Other than the forms you fill out when you take all the wonderful, no-strings-attached tools offered, and browsing history, (which does NOT give demographics, it only gives assumptions). We're talking about geo-targetting your IP address as the best assumption and that can easily be wrong.

I agree that browsing history can help in identifying a specific targets past interests, but that is not the same as demographic data. Demographic data has been being used for a loooong time now and it's been collected and analysed a lot of ways. It doesn't HAVE to be this way.

Maybe we're all going to get rich off our adsense accounts now, but let us not fool ourselves. It is not about relevancy, it is not about helping people find better information. It is about delivering more targeted ads, gaining more market share and strengthening postion. It is about money and power.

Of course, I highly doubt that accepting that will change much. Altering perception is where it's at. So, who's going to be trying to use their power and influence to alter perception?

Anyone that can.

I'm just asking a rhetorical question. Is this REALLY what "we" want? How cheaply are we willing to sell thinking for ourselves, standing up for what we believe, questioning the status quo? Does it matter?

What demographics data?

Quote:
What demographics data? Other than the forms you fill out when you take all the wonderful, no-strings-attached tools offered, and browsing history, (which does NOT give demographics, it only gives assumptions).

I mean demographics in the wide sense - Interests (both personal and as an aggregate group), time online, peak times online, sites you visit...

One thing I've noticed over the years is the incremental need to provide just a little bit more personal info. I have Google Alerts, for instance. Only recently have I finally just succumbed to opening a GMail A/c. I had to register again, despite - apparently - already being registered to all G services, including API's etc...

On the registration form I'm told that all my Google credentials will now be rolled into my new GMail details... which required more personal details than I've ever been asked before (by them).

Like (I think) you intimated, once you begin to tie-in all the peripheral services like Checkout, Webmaster Console, Analytics, Desktop, Email etc... it becomes increasingly difficult to stay anonymous.

... and that's to say nothing about the likes of MySpace and YouTube tie-ups.

Quote:
We're talking about geo-targetting your IP address as the best assumption and that can easily be wrong.

That's true but I see a drip-drip collection game going on over time. Plus, it's a numbers game - They'll always be ways to hide but over time the ways to do it will become more cumbersome... and even then, they still know what language you speak, which is a demographic measurement.

I share your fears, I just currently see a different motivation for all this.

ThePost

I agree that browsing

Quote:
I agree that browsing history can help in identifying a specific targets past interests, but that is not the same as demographic data. Demographic data has been being used for a loooong time now and it's been collected and analysed a lot of ways. It doesn't HAVE to be this way.

Google has a lot of demographics data from Orkut. All they have to do is match up email addresses to logins.

The problems with

The problems with personalization reminds me of a King of Queens episode. Stuart buys TiVo and programs shows he likes like ice figure skating, the style channel, etc. and TiVo winds up thinking he is gay and fills his box with 'appropriate' materal.

I dont know if there is a way to stop personalization unless it is perceived as negative by the public at large or if it becomes too much trouble if, like Stuart, Google's thinks you are something you are not or like something you dont and then you are stuck.

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