Interesting post by Gord Hotchkiss in his blog Out of My Gord on the recent announcement by Google that natural search results will be driven in part by individual search history. He contends that personalization or the use of your search history to guide future results will have a profound impact on Google’s future offerings. Hotchkiss points out that not only can Google see the sites you visit, but can discern the intent of the individual by looking at the click stream.
If Google sees visits to vintage car sites, they know I'm at a minimum a car enthusiast and potentially someone that is looking to buy a car. Each of the key lifecycle type of searches from baby products to retirement homes can vastly improve the customers satisfaction with the quality of the search and advertisers ability to target. Wow.
Hotchkiss points out that Sep Kamvar, the Googlite responsible for this initiative, is going to transform Google’s current and future offerings with this level of mass customization.
I think Hotchkiss, while correctly identifying the profound impact it will have on the internet, is not seeing the impact this move by Kamvar will have on products outside of the internet.
Consumers tend to benchmark expectations against a few companies that set the tone. An ancient example is American Express setting the standard for service. Google, Amazon and Microsoft set the expectation for UI design. If Google begins to fit more like a glove, then other products need to change to stay perceptually current.
The idea that products will conform to the user experience vs. the user conforming to a fixed set of product features will cause a dramatic shift in the way products and services are designed. Products will dynamically transform themselves to keep up with the higher bar set by consumers for intelligent personalization. New category leaders can emerge by building dynamic adaptation into their design.
The key to the puzzle is user intent and Google will have the best data set to understand what that intent is.
As mentioned in a previous blog entry, imagine cable TV with all of my favorite channels grouped together, or a camera with only the features I use (I can never find that damn red eye reduction button). My car radio will tune to my most listed to stations, my browser will ask me if I’d like to view the NYTimes.com every time my computer is turned on and my kids will do what I’d like. I thought it was worth a try.
Interesting Sidebar: If Google can read intent and identify future behavior, then they might be able to discern patterns of behavior that are positive and negative. For example, if they understood the typical search behavior of a terrorist or criminal, could they anticipate future action?