Bing Gets Adaptive (Personalized) Search

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 15, 2011
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Microsoft, Search

A recent search engine trend is to personalize the user experience. You can best see this on Google Search, where you not only see personalized search results based on previous searches and activities, but also +1's by friends. If you take ten users and ask them to search on Google Search for the same topic, you likely get at least a handful of different results.

Bing up until now did not make use of some of those techniques. The company did however announce a new concept called adaptive search yesterday. Adaptive Search basically uses previous searches to determine the best results for a user on Bing. These results are then displayed more prominently on the search engine (they get bonus points so to speak).

The concept is all about ambiguity. Search engines sometimes do not know what you are looking for. Say you enter cars in the search form. You could be looking for automotive information, or the movie cars, or someone with the last name Cars.

Adaptive search looks at a user's previous searches to determine which results the user is after. Someone who searched for Disney and Cars 2 before may see more information about the movie Cars than about automobiles. The same is true for a user who searched for car brands like Mercedes before, only that this user would see more automotive related results.

Here is a video that demonstrates the concept.

Video: Adapting Search to You

Some users may have privacy concerns. Microsoft notes that the feature can be disabled by turning off the search history on Bing.

Adaptive search has its shortcomings. Lets take the Australia example from the Bing news page. Say you research your next vacation in Australia. You perform a few searches and get all things sorted out. Just before the start of your vacation, you decided to look up the movie Australia to watch it before the trip. If you just enter Australia, you might end up with no movie information whatsoever. You can counter this by searching for Australia movie obviously.

What's your take on Adaptive Search?


Tutorials & Tips

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