Google unveiled an experimental personalized search technology in its Labs unit today. It has the potential to impact the way paid search ads are targeted.
Google Personalized Search uses people’s search histories and click behavior to tailor Web search results. If a user searches “bass,” for example, the technology would look at his search and click history to decide if music- or fish-related results are most appropriate.
The new tool is related in part to Google’s search history feature and also ties into its Fusion initiative, which encompasses the personalized home page. All these offerings require a user be logged in to a Google account.
The technology so far is only being applied to Web search results. It isn’t yet tied to the company’s AdWords program.
“Google personalized search does not affect the ranking of advertisements at this time,” a company spokesperson told ClickZ News.
Though the representative said Google wouldn’t comment on future plans, he didn’t rule out the possibility of such personalization eventually being applied to ads.
Industry-watchers could easily imagine any technology that helps distinguish a user’s intent could and should be applied to advertising. Currently, a search for “bass” on Google turns up ads relating to Bass pale ale, Bass shoes, bass fishing, and bass guitars.
At least one search engine marketer expressed doubts about the Google experiment.
“If the user is searching for something, let them decide what they want to click on. Previous behavior might not incidate future behavior,” said Melissa Burgess, director of business development at SEM firm Impaqt. “It limits the ability of a searcher to find what they’re looking for.”
Burgess also questioned whether the technology should be applied to paid search ads, saying savvy marketers would seldom choose the types of broad keywords that the system seems designed to work with.
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