Personalized Paid Search and Tracking Long and Short Term Interests

Could what you search for on the web, and what you show an interest in at places like Flickr, Del.icio.us, and Yahoo’s groups and services, influence what you see in paid search advertisments in the future?

A new patent application from Yahoo describes a process of tracking and measuring a person’s long and short term interests based upon how that person interacts with the Web, to provide them with ads based upon those interests.

The information may be based on:

  • The user’s browsing or other navigational activity,
  • Search-related activity,
  • Declared personal data submitted in a user account registration, and;
  • Other collected information.

Here’s one of the flowcharts from the document describing parts of the process of collecting information about interests:

Yahoo User Interests Advertising

Behavioral information may be used to focus particular advertising efforts on users whose online activities and behavior suggest that a person is a potential purchaser of products or services being advertised. That person might be shown banner advertisements and sponsored listing advertisements based upon their interests.

Here’s an example from one part of the patent application:

For example, if the user conducts a search for “digital cameras,” a score within the interest category Cameras->Digital may be incremented by a small amount.

If the same user begins to view pages or click on advertisements relating to specific models of digital cameras, the score in Cameras->Digital is incremented further by a larger amount.

If the user examines prices at specific store sites, manifesting a specific intent to purchase a particular digital camera model, the score in Cameras->Digital may be raised further to a very high amount, possibly to a maximum level.

In general, users may be expected to have higher scores for lower-priced items, such as flowers.

By contrast, for higher-priced products and services, such as automobiles or mortgages, a user may be expected to have lower scores during an initial period before the scores increase to higher levels when the user demonstrates a strong intent to make a purchase.

The major search engines are collecting an incredible amount of information about our uses of their search engines and portal pages. It’s not surprising to see that some of that information might be used to try to determine which advertisements to show us. What I do find interesting is that interests in different classes of products or services might be treated differently by a system like this.

The patent application also breaks up profiling and advertising efforts into two types – an awareness approach, and a response oriented approach:

The awareness score determines a user’s awareness of and basic interest in products and services within the given category. Such a score may be employed, for example, in directing branding or brand awareness advertising efforts.

The response-oriented score determines a user’s interest in making a purchase of a product or service within the given category or engaging in another kind of response with respect to the category. The response-oriented score may be useful for direct marketing advertisement efforts or for other advertisement efforts in which the targeted customer may be likely to make a decision to purchase within the near future.

The patent filing provides a number of examples of how these behavioral interest scores might be created and modified, influenced by the passage of time, and by further related user behavior involving the same topics.

Framework for selecting and delivering advertisements over a network based on combined short-term and long-term user behavioral interests
Invented by Hongche Liu and M.S. Kiumarse Zamanian
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20070061195
Published March 15, 2007
Filed September 13, 2005

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