Measuring Personalization of Web Search

Aniko Hannak, Piotr Sapiezynski, Arash Molavi Kakhki, Balachander Krishnamurthy, David Lazer, Alan Mislove, Christo Wilson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Web search is an integral part of our daily lives. Recently, there has been a trend of personalization in Web search, where different users receive different results for the same search query. The increasing personalization is leading to concerns about Filter Bubble effects, where certain users are simply unable to access information that the search engines’ algorithm decidesis irrelevant. Despitetheseconcerns, there has been little quantification of the extent of personalization in Web search today, or the user attributes that cause it. In light of this situation, we make three contributions. First, we develop a methodology for measuring personalization in Web search results. While conceptually simple, there are numerous details that our methodology must handle in order to accurately attribute differences in search results to personalization. Second, we apply our methodology to 200 users on Google Web Search; we find that, on average, 11.7 % of results show differences due to personalization, but that this varies widely by search query and by result ranking. Third, we investigate the causes of personalization on Google Web Search. Surprisingly, we only find measurable personalization as a result of searching with a logged in account and the IP address of the searching user. Our results are a first step towards understanding the extent and effects of personalization on Web search engines today.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 22nd international conference on World Wide Web
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2013
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-2035-1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event22nd international conference on World Wide Web (WWW 2013) - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 13 May 201317 May 2013


Conference22nd international conference on World Wide Web (WWW 2013)
CityRio de Janeiro
Internet address


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