Has Microsoft Partnered With Claria to Build a Search Engine to Rival Google?


Update: Per a Microsoft spokesperson, Microsoft’s new Relerank technology is in no way related to Claria or their RelevancyRank technology.

Disclaimer: The following post is pure and utter speculation on my part. Do not take it for anything other than this.

Last week on a tip from Dave Zatz, who seems to live for scouring public documents, I came across a February 15th trademark application by Microsoft filed for Relerank. Relerank is described as “computer software for organzing, displaying and managing search results from computer search engine software.”

So it got me thinking about what Relerank might be. Maybe it’s nothing, but surely Microsoft had some reason for trademarking the term and technology. And then I thought back to June of last year when that whole rumor came out regarding Microsoft buying Claria (remember, your friendly folks at Gator?) Claria has a search technology that while not called Relerank is pretty close — it’s called RelevancyRank. Here is a link on the technology (it was announced last June about the time that Microsoft was rumored to be looking at the company).

Claria describes relevancy rank as: “a patent-pending search technology that ranks Web pages in a revolutionary way. It goes beyond analyzing links to pages and hypertext matching, and instead evaluates what searchers do once they see the links displayed.

The technology analyzes what happens after a search results page is displayed, incorporating metrics such as the location of each listing on the results page, click rate, and post-click consumer behavior – such as time spent viewing a site, number of pages viewed at a site, and number of return visits to a destination Web site.

By using behavior as the true measure of relevance, RelevancyRank can filter out irrelevant listings that don’t provide the information that people are looking for and create a list of ideal search results for selected keywords that Internet users have found to be the most relevant.”

Claria also claimed that in an initial study developed in conjunction with Harris Interactive, RelevancyRank search technology proved to be equal or better than Google and Yahoo! search results over 85 percent of the time in terms of both satisfaction and relevancy.

On June 30th the New York Times reported that there was a $500 million deal on the table for Microsoft to purchase Claria. In July several sites subsequently reported that the rumored acquistion of Claria by Microsoft was off. Speculation was that Microsoft was concerned about the PR fallout over Claria’s former behavior as a much despised little adware company called Gator. But was what Microsoft eyeing all along this RelevancyRank technology that Claria had developed? And might the Claria search technology be *that* good? And could Microsoft still have structured (or be structuring) a partnership with Claria now to develop this search technology for the Microsoft platform? It is interesting that they would be licensing a search platform term so closely linked to Claria’s existing technology.

It is also worth noting that eWeek reported shortly after the rumored talks with Microsoft and Claria that Microsoft had, “quietly downgraded its Claria detections.” “Prior to the recent tests, Microsoft’s AntiSpyware tool detected Claria’s products and presented users with a recommended action of “Quarantine.”

A public beta release for the Claria’s search technology was reportedly planned for launch in Q4 2005 and to the best of my knowledge we’ve yet to see it. After playing runner up to Google for so long, if Claria’s search technology really is as good as they claim, it would be easy to see why Microsoft would want this.


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  1. Discfree.com says:

    I don’t care whether they data mine me or not as long as I never have to see another about.com search result again.