January 22, 2013, 4:24 PM — Facebook's Graph Search is the future of search. Even before Google was a verb, the search engine Holy Grail was to deliver you the most relevant search results despite not knowing who you were and what exactly you were looking for. Now Facebook can stop guessing who you are--because it already knows you--and start serving up hyper-personalized answers tailored to you and based on the Facebook social universe.
Search leaders haven't been sitting idly by. Google's own hyper-personal search tool is called Google Now and landed on desktop search just last month. Microsoft's Bing has woven what it calls Social Search deep into its search engine. The hyper-personal search race has already been sparked; Facebook's Graph Search ignites the revolution.
Personalized search is nothing new. We've gotten whiffs of the benefits of personalized search over time. Netflix has spent years honing its recommendation engine designed to keep you coming back to watch more movies and TV shows. Amazon recommends books, music, and numerous other products based on your past purchases. Pandora developed an algorithm that can generate playlists based on songs you tell it you like.
The secret to the success of Amazon, Netflix, and Pandora is the scope of the guessing was limited to you and a defined by a limited number of products, movies, and songs. The challenge for the leaders in search, Microsoft's Bing and Google, was that the data set was everything under the sun and you were an unknown. It's easier to create a search algorithm that uses past movie preferences to guess what similar movies you like. It's much harder for Bing to guess what movie you'd like based on the query "find me a really funny movie that I'd like."
Now Bing, Google, and Facebook can begin to know who you are, who your friends are, your likes, where you go, about that failed diet, and where you vacation. The results are good, if we don't get too hung up on the privacy debate. In the age of Big Data, search engines can sift through your digital dossier and pair that with relevant search results.