StumbleUpon introduced a new style of search Oct. 23 that leverages its recommendation engine and social networking with search to produce better returns.
Dubbed SearchReviews, the process layers peer endorsement, site ratings, and reviews, culled from the companys 3.7 million users, over search results from Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask to bring better returns to users.
The idea is to boost traffic and perhaps stickiness, which are two major variables for businesses that want to make money from online advertising.
The software tool, which also works with Google News, Yahoo News, Flickr, Wikipedia and YouTube, enables StumbleUpons users to see which search results their friends recommend. Users will see star ratings next to the search sites as well as icons indicating which of their friends have given the sites a "thumbs-up" rating.
Users can add people they feel are experts in a particular category to view their endorsements on search results or just see what sites their friends have discovered. The idea is to personalize search results without making users change their searching behavior, according to a StumbleUpon blog post.
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SearchReviews is available to users who have downloaded and installed the companys toolbar inside a Firefox or Internet Explorer browser.
While traditional search tools return pages of listings to users that may or may not be what the searcher is looking for, StumbleUpon uses the collaborative ranking approach to help registered users discover sites that are relevant to their personal interests.
The technology integrates peer-to-peer and social networking principles with one-click blogging to create a content referral system. The company describes the technology on its Web site as one that enables users to "channel-surf" the Web.
Features such as SearchReviews are crucial at a time when traditional methods of online advertising are beginning to mature.
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For example, companies such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are turning to mobile advertisements to target smart phones. Google, arguably the top innovator for new forms of online advertisements, is turning to video ads and interactive widget ads.
StumbleUpon, a San Francisco-based startup acquired by eBay for $75 million on May 30, may not have the luxury of extending to mobile or video areas so quickly, but SearchReviews is another step along the path.
Collaborative ranking tools such as SearchReviews arent solely for consumer search.
In recent weeks, enterprise search vendors Endeca, Vivisimo, Google, and Fast Search and Transfer have all graced their platforms with some form of social computing component, such as social tagging, navigation and collaborative ranking.
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