Will Personalizing Results Replace Search?

Marissa-MayerIn the future, you become the query, according to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, speaking with Bloomberg at Davos about the future of search technology.

The query will take into consideration keywords, historic queries, the person's background, location, time, and preferences to process -- and will return custom results. If you're the query, you type in search terms or become the passive query where technology identifies time and location to return useful information, Mayer said.

The most fascinating characteristic that Mayer brings to Yahoo is an expertise in engineering that will allow her to turn around an ailing company, with or without the help of its search alliance with Microsoft. Rather than speak in hearsay, she has the education, experience and knowledge to understand the dotted lines that are holding together the Internet.

Mayer expects technology to enable the transition within the next three to five years, based on changes during the past 15 years. Social search becomes a stepping stone to the interest graph -- a set of things I'm interested in, for example. It creates connections to friends, family, and business relationships.

Image and voice recognition as backbone technologies that understand content support the transition. Social becomes the stepping stone. She calls Twitter "exciting and interesting," and points to social media as a tool to identify key pieces that define people as individuals.

When asked how companies will guarantee privacy and that information is not abused, Mayer pointed to transparency that describes the searches and how the data is used. She expects to see industry standards that provide consumers with account statements. Some of today's dashboards enable people to see the stored data and how it is used.

Make the data portable, she said. This would allow consumers to switch mobile carriers, for example. "Are the papers you wrote in college yours? Absolutely," Mayer said. That data should fundamentally belong to the user, so the person can take the history and move it to a different search provider, if needed.

Could you take that data and move it to another platform? It's technologically possible, Mayer said, and "a lot of the players are providing for things like that."

Without one of four key distribution technologies -- mobile operating system, mobile hardware, browser, and social network-- Mayer said in the 30-minute video that Yahoo will build "strong partnerships" to compete. Yahoo works with Apple and Google for its operating system; and for its social network, Facebook.

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2 comments about "Will Personalizing Results Replace Search?".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , January 25, 2013 at 4:08 p.m.
    Can't think of better reasons to sever ties with Yahoo.
  2. Andre Szykier from maps capital management , January 25, 2013 at 4:25 p.m.
    This all assumes that enabling cookies keeps the connection alive. With a lot of browser users choosing anonymous browsing, cookies die at the end of a session along with history. This is more about Web security practices against phishing, cross-scripting and identity profiling than about advertisers knowing about your habits. I think the pendulum will swing into the direction of privacy before people accept the value of ad profiling.