Pew: Personalized search turning out to be unpopular

Pew: Personalized search turning out to be unpopular

Summary: Ideally, personalized search would lead to more precise and relevant results overtime, but many Internet users are not willing to sacrifice their privacy for this amenity.

TOPICS: Browser

The idea behind personalized search, in which search engines keep track of your personal data with the idea of serving you better in the future (among other reasons), seems to make sense in theory. Ideally, users will get more precise and relevant results overtime, saving everyone time and possibly money.

However, there are some obvious flaws to this theory -- chief among them would be privacy concerns.

According to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, approximately 73 percent of respondents were upset that a search engine would track of their searches and saw that as an invasion of privacy.

Even more specifically, 68 percent of all Internet users are said to be primarily upset by having their online behavior tracked and analyzed.

However, privacy isn't the only issue here. At least 65 percent of search engine users don't like the idea of personalized search just because they feel it might limit their results, causing them to miss something important in the future.

As for those who are fans of personalized search, 29 percent of search engine users like the concept in the hopes of receiving more relevant results.

Beyond that, 28 percent of Internet users also look forward to personalized advertising on the side so at least they're forced to look at ads that are actually pertinent to them.

As for which search engines still ring the most popular with Internet users, it's not much of a surprise that Google came in first with 83 percent of the vote. Yahoo came in second with 6 percent of search users.

For reference, Pew's results are based on a a survey conducted in English and Spanish between January 20 and February 19, 2012 among 2,253 adults age 18 and over.


Topic: Browser

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  • Search Engines miss the lesson Facebook taught

    Facebook got a metric ton of personal user information in one step: ask the user for it. Beyond them, eHarmony gets a ludicrous amount of personal information from users AND charges them for the privilege of handing it over to them AND advertises to them on top of it.

    If Google were willing to not track my every move on the internet, but instead ASK me for the kind of advertisements I wanted to see, I would be more than happy to provide that information. I would detail to them exactly the kinds of ads I'd want to see, and the kind of advertisers I'd like to deal with.

    When Google or Bing or Yahoo or whoever decides to do that which is so bleeding obvious I don't know how it's been missed for all of these years, I will be a MUCH happier person.

  • Google is my lightweight search engine

    I only use the big name search engines when away from the speciality ones. Too much crud and bad search results when it's time for something serious. Plus no data mining of me!
  • I hate personalized search

    It has been a nightmare to turn them off and the FTC or FCC whoever is looking into the privacy practices should seriously press all the search engine companies about this matter.

    I have turned them off again and again, erased my location by putting in USA. Gone in settings and checked do not let websites see my location and installed no tracking add-in extensions to all my browsers just to see it turn up again and again.

    Who do we complain to? I have even gone as far to find buried in my ISP website the feature to turn it off from the source to find it turn up again. Do I have to search through a tunnel to prevent it?
  • What a survey says vs. real life

    Very interesting data, Rachel, and not terribly surprising. But, of course, there is a big difference between what people say in a survey and what they do in real life. Doc suspects that even though so many people say they are concerned about privacy, it hasn't affected their behavior nearly as much as they say. We all end up making pretty big compromises for the sake of convenience. But some interesting lessons here for the search folks to consider.
    DocuMentor (Doc)