Search tools get personal

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Search tools get personal

The second generation of search tools on the Web are becoming much more personal than their more formal predecessors.

Companies like Knowledge Discovery and NetAngels will be introducing new technologies that run alongside browsers and serve to improve the search results by keeping tabs on users' interests.

CONSTRUCTING POINTED QUERIES

"With the vast amount of information available and the explosion of Web sites and Internet use," said Brett Moore, strategic director of Hong Kong-based Knowledge Discovery, "getting relevant results is becoming more difficult." The company last week launched More Like This, a software program that automatically chooses key words from on-screen information to construct a more pointed search query.

Although the technology is free for a trial period, users will be charged $35 for the software, which can be downloaded from http://www.morelikethis.com. Knowledge Discovery will be launching an online ad campaign to promote the new product.

NETANGELS TO BOW IN FALL

Software from startup company NetAngels, San Francisco, founded by entrepreneur Mark Goldstein, also runs alongside a user's browser and keeps track of sites a user has visited. The software encourages the user to give each site a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" by clicking the appropriate icon on the NetAngels interface.

The company, which formally launches its product in the fall, has aligned several Web sites to distribute and co-market the product, including Match.com, SeniorNet and Travelocity. NetAngels will distribute the software free to users but hopes to make money by offering personalized advertising.

Personalized advertising will yield not only greater customer loyalty but also about three times more ad revenues than standard advertising, according to Forrester Research.

ONE-STOP SEARCHING

"Advertising will be the revenue model for search companies," said John Robb, Internet analyst at Forrester. "Search sites will also begin aggregating directories and other search products. We'll soon see a couple of big sites that offer one-stop searching."

Lycos, Infoseek Corp. and Yahoo! Corp. are also developing technology that tracks consumers' behavior in previous searches for use in future searching as well as for selling customized advertising.

Contributing: Debra Aho Williamson.

Copyright July 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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