It started with MSN saying that paid search advertisers would be able to target an audience based on demographics, but now both Yahoo and Google are gearing up to join the battle over personalised search.
What is personalised search?
For the user, this means keeping track of your past searches and using this information to provide more relevant searches in the future. A classic example is the way Amazon suggests books you might like based on what you have searched for before. For the service to work, you either need to login or have a cookie on your computer that holds your details.
For the advertiser, this means being able to target ads to a specific demographic. The theory goes that if you are selling car insurance to women, you can set your ads to only appear to female searchers. None of the major engines have rolled this out and MSN is the only one to have explicitly outlined this aspect of its service.
What are the services available?
Yahoo has expanded its â€˜my Yahooâ€™ offering to include details of past searches. More info.
Google has has recently launched a service that allows you to view your search history. A Gmail account will work as a suitable login. More info.
MSN has unveiled demographic targetting as part of its pay per click offering. More info.
Ask Jeeves has expanded the capabilities of its My Jeeves service. More info.
Amazon’s A9 search site has long allowed users to look up all the things they looked up. More info.