The demographics of web search

Ingmar Weber, Carlos Castillo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

100 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

How does the web search behavior of "rich" and "poor" people differ? Do men and women tend to click on different results for the same query? What are some queries almost exclusively issued by African Americans? These are some of the questions we address in this study. Our research combines three data sources: the query log of a major US-based web search engine, profile information provided by 28 million of its users (birth year, gender and ZIP code), and US-census information including detailed demographic information aggregated at the level of ZIP code. Through this combination we can annotate each query with, e.g. the average per-capita income in the ZIP code it originated from. Though conceptually simple, this combination immediately creates a powerful user modeling tool. The main contributions of this work are the following. First, we provide a demographic description of a large sample of search engine users in the US and show that it agrees well with the distribution of the US population. Second, we describe how different segments of the population differ in their search behavior, e.g. with respect to the queries they formulate or the URLs they click. Third, we explore applications of our methodology to improve web search relevance and to provide better query suggestions. These results enable a wide range of applications including improving web search and advertising where, for instance, targeted advertisements for "family vacations" could be adapted to the (expected) income.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSIGIR 2010 Proceedings - 33rd Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval
Pages523-530
Number of pages8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes
Event33rd Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval, SIGIR 2010 - Geneva, Switzerland
Duration: 19 Jul 201023 Jul 2010

Other

Other33rd Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval, SIGIR 2010
CountrySwitzerland
CityGeneva
Period19/7/1023/7/10

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Demographic factors
  • Web search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems

Cite this

Weber, I., & Castillo, C. (2010). The demographics of web search. In SIGIR 2010 Proceedings - 33rd Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (pp. 523-530) https://doi.org/10.1145/1835449.1835537