Google’s Product Recommendation Widget Patent

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Google Product Recommendations Displayed (Super Hero Alter Ego Authors)

If Google were to get into the shopping comparison and recommendation business, how would they do it?

The answer might involve incorporating measures of user behavior to perform collaborative filtering based upon data collected from more than one web retailer, and could be done with the use of shopping recommendation widgets displayed on many web retailers’ pages.

A patent application from Google shows how they might do that.

User behavior data, such as information about user purchases (conversions) and information about accesses of, and time spent on product pages and product information pages, may be collected for a good number of users and from many web retailers and possibly even non-web retailers. This kind of information might be collected through toolbar software or retailer supplied information or both.

In addition to looking at purchases of possibly related products during single online sessions, this system would also consider amount of time spent by people looking at reviews, product descriptions, and prices.

So if a lot of people who buy Crest toothpaste also spend some time looking at a page for a Reach toothbrush in the same online session, people looking at a product page for the toothpaste may see a recommendation for that toothbrush.

Product recommendations based on collaborative filtering of user data
Invented by Michael Stoppelman
US Patent Application 20070005437
Published January 4, 2007
Filed: June 29, 2005


A system gathers user behavior data from a group of web retailers and/or non-web retailers, analyzes the user behavior data to identify product recommendations for products offered by the web retailers, and provides one of the identified product recommendations in connection with a product page associated with one of the web retailers.

Google Recommendation Widgets

Product recommendations may be provided to web retailers, enabling them to insert a piece of code, called a “creative,” on their product pages.

A Google Product Recommendation Widget

It could be implemented using JavaScript or in some other manner, and would display recommended products from the product recommendation system to people browsing the page. In effect, it would be a recommendation widget.

The products displayed would be relevant to the product page shown, and to the web retailer selling the product. It wouldn’t recommend products that the online retailer doesn’t sell.

A web retailer using the widget might be charged based upon the clicking of links to recommended products, or when visitors place recommended products in a shopping car, or upon purchasing those, or it could involve fees using a flat rate basis.

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3 thoughts on “Google’s Product Recommendation Widget Patent”

  1. Hi Bill

    Out of curiosity, was the widget part of the patent or your own personal thoughts?

    Very interesting given the current buzz around widgets.


  2. Hi Richard,

    The phrase that they use in the patent application is “creative,” but what is being defined in the patent application fulfills the definitions I’ve been seeing of what a widget is.

    One of those is the wikipedia web widget entry.

    Here’s a snippet from the section of the document that discusses these creatives, and how they would be used:

    [0050] Returning to FIG. 6, the product recommendations may be provided on behalf of the web retailers. For example, the web retailers may insert a piece of code, called a “creative,” on their product pages. The creative may include, for example, JavaScript or other code designed to be downloaded and executed by web browsers or other software at clients 210. The code, when executed at a client 210, may cause client 210 to request recommended products from product recommendation system 225. The request may include, for example, an identification of the web retailer and the product (or product page) currently being accessed at the web retailer. In response, product recommendation system 225 may transmit product recommendations to client 210. The product recommendations may be provided in conjunction with the product page from the web retailers. For example, the product recommendations may be integrated and displayed with the product page or provided for display within a pop-up window, or the like, in conjunction with the product page.

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