eBay announce roll out of Cassini search engine

Mark Carges, eBay CTO, announced the roll out of eBay’s new Cassini Search Engine at the Analyst Day being held today.

Currently eBay search is powered by the 10 year old Voyager search engine. Voyager (and yes eBay do like to name their search engines after NASA spacecraft), has done well for eBay, but it’s limited. Voyager only indexes the 80 characters in an item’s title, if the keywords aren’t in the title then the items won’t be found.

The new Cassini Search engine will index not only title but also everything else in the listing including the full description. Cassini will go further than pure keyword matching however. It will learn what’s important to a particular buyer and offer different selection depending on your preferences. For instance a new buyer that’s never purchased before on eBay might want to dial up trust and buy from in-country sellers with great feedback. A collector might want to dial up diversity and find the rare products to complete their collection. Other buyers may make buying decisions based on value and relevance and know exactly what they want to purchase but want the best price.

eBay already have all the data. They know who is eager to buy from overseas and who is only interested in buying from a seller in their own country. They know which set of buyers prefer new fixed price goods and which want to find auctions with unique used inventory. Cassini will enable eBay to provide not only relevant search results, but a great variety of results tailored for the buying habits for specific buyers.

The new Cassini search engine is already live on eBay.com for completed listing search and for search queries that return no, or few results. It’s also rolled out on the eBay.com site for small parts of core search. It’s expected to be fully rolled out on eBay.com by the end of 2013 and then to hit other parts of the world including the UK.

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"Voyager only indexes the 80 characters in an item’s title, if the keywords aren’t in the title then the items won’t be found." What about when you select 'include description'? So will Cassini automatically search title and description? Is that the only difference?

CJ • 28th March 2013 •

Not the "only" difference... just one of the more visible differences. As per above it's a lot smarter and can deliver more of the results you prefer to your and different results according to my established preferences to me.

Chris Dawson • 28th March 2013 •

So title + description will be automatic on all searches? Will they be weighted equally? Or do we not know yet? Will we ever know?

CJ • 28th March 2013 •

worrying to say the least, what search hoops will ebay now be able to devise to make us jump thru, or pay for,

puddleglum • 28th March 2013 •

Ground Control to Major Tom Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong Can you hear me, Major Tom? Can you hear me, Major Tom? Can you hear me, Major Tom?

puddleglum • 28th March 2013 •

As an ebay seller, It would be nice to have my items seen to be purchased, not a fan to say the least of the current best match, but - even if it is not my items seen. I certainly hope this "search" will FIND exactly what the BUYER is "searching" for. Not a load of suggested garbage. Customer quote " I went to ebay first, but it was taking so long to find- I went to Amazon and bought it."

Johnny Masada • 28th March 2013 •

I just found that whatever you search on ebay.com, it is yielding zero results! Is it the same case with everyone else?

Chandan • 28th March 2013 •

if it's like most ebay roll outs it will be a right bodge. it will only show items with free postage and 1 day dispatch with an express delivery option. lol.

raz • 28th March 2013 •

The items with the highest fee revenue for ebay will be at the top of new search. Sad but true.

Gary • 28th March 2013 •

. Shame it's nearly spring, thought I might hibernate whilst all this is going on.....

Gerry007 • 28th March 2013 •

Voyager only indexes the 80 characters in an item’s title, if the keywords aren’t in the title then the items won’t be found.
This hasn't been true for years. eBay has something called search expansion which happens automatically as long as you don't perform any advanced search queries. This includes such things as category, product title (not the item's title), item title, item specifics, variation specifics, and product details.

ebuyerfb • 29th March 2013 •

What will it do for such as Books where each Book has a specific title. I know at present that often if I put in a specific title instead of getting just those Books with that title I often get a right load of old tosh most of which has little or nothing to do with the title I keyed in. Indeed I have often found that my own listing of that book has not appeared and I have to search on to find my listing yet I have all sorts of tosh showing on my search.

Chris T • 29th March 2013 •

My assumption is that it would recognize that as an exact match to a known product and only show you listings against that product. eBay kind of experimented with that in the past and failed but I wouldn't be surprised if it is a part of Cassini.

ebuyerfb • 30th March 2013 •

Sounds like an even worse idea than the current "best match" (Ha!) which always shows a load of irrelevant rubbish. Now it's going to actively hide stuff you're looking for!

Peter Stevens • 29th March 2013 •

Houston, we have a problem..

Steve • 30th March 2013 •

About time, really! I'm actually surprised that it took eBay so long to realize that they need more advanced, more AI based search engine - as most people try to beat system by keyword stuffing which makes majority of eBay listing titles un-readable. Now, the question is whatever eBay can actually produce a decent search engine? If it will be old school type of system relying on simply text analysis, people will just stuff keywords in listing descriptions!!! Learn from Google I guess! :-)

Andrew Minalto • 2nd April 2013 •

I wonder if this new search technology has the abilty to see all the shill purchasing of BIN & MVL listings? I have a competitor who buys around 800 of his own items a month. Makes "Best Match" not only a challenge but nigh on impossible to deal with. Also must help him\her retain their TRS.. Reported several times to no avail.

Andrew • 5th April 2013 •

Despite my compliants over the years about Ebay Search engine (ie best match (yuk) it has been the best on the net most of the time. Comparing it to Amazon say, it's been way better, but Amazon has improved while Ebay seems to be going backwards. They stopped wild cards (*) a while ago so now I have to type "-cup" and well as "-cups". IDIOTIC ! If Cassini is responsible for the new "Feed" on Ebay.com then it's rubbish. It may be ok for people who are not sure what they're looking for. Sometimes that includes me but then all I want is tons of small pics to choose from which clickpic gives but only for Ebay.com (not UK) I suspect that it's just yet another way to favour big power sellers over the little guy. It's hubris for Ebay to think that AI can accurately predetermine peoples requirements. It won't be the first time that Ebay have thought themselves a lot cleverer than they actually are. Skype and other expensives mistakes testify to that.

Pete • 8th April 2013 •

Ok how about some facts here! - Voyager the old search engine supports title+description search. So saying cassini will be the first time thats done at ebay is just marketing hogwash. - Using smarter ranking signals, machine learning etc. Again, this is just bullshit. The system that generates these signals using data mining is completely separate from the core search engine. The core search engine gets the ranking signals as input to index. Prominent among these are signals on demand for each item, etc. This is already happening for the old search engine as well. So the results will not change with the new engine. - In reality the only change is that the code for the core search engine has been rewritten. Functionaly speaking there is no change at all! - Reality: The new system design is flimsy and prone to failures as evidenced by the 2 year delay in launching this. eBay is looking at some major outages once they retire the old system and put all traffic on the new system.

matt • 12th April 2013 •