Take a minute and think about the last website or service you used which isn’t trying to deliver a personalized service. Still thinking? It’s hard to find a popular service that isn’t trying to add personalization.
Mark Johnson, CEO of Zite, compares the, “explosion of personalization,” to the huge boom in search which took place not too long ago. Zite presents you with a personalized magazine to you each time you open it. You pick the topics and based on your feedback the app creates a magazine tailored just for you. Zite is currently on the iPad, but Johnson tells us there is nothing keeping it from coming to other devices.
Personalization isn’t just a fad, it’s here to change everything from the way you find and consumer information, shop and entertain yourself.
Future of Personalization
The explosion of personalization is getting much bigger thanks to the availability of data, access to your social circle, better algorithms, increased desire to have information pushed to us and devices that lend themselves to consuming content in new ways and places.
Availability of data – Data is much easier to access these days, and thanks to the prevalence of RSS feeds and other standards apps and services can tap into what we like and want. This could go even further, with the creation of a personalization account that knows everything you like. If you share this with a website or service your experience could be tailored for everything from shopping to the ending of a popular video game.
Access to your social circle – Zite can tap into your Twitter account to find out what is popular in your social circle. This gives unprecedented insight into the people you trust. Johnson pointed out that just as he would ask a small group of people for restaurant recommendations in NYC, we turn to our friends to find the answers and content we want to know about. Bing is also using your social circle to incorporate your Facebook friend likes and recommendations into the shopping experience,
Better algorithms – As algorithms improve, they can further leverage social recommendations, singling out the friends we would ask about specific topics; perhaps by their klout expertise or some other metric which rises. Zite succeeds not only because it has a beautiful interface, but also because it has a powerful algorithm that learns what you like.
Push vs. Pull – Another trend that is leading towards more personalization is the desire to have relevant information pushed to us, instead of going out and pulling information in. Finding 20 interesting articles in Google Reader can take an entire afternoon, but armed with your preferences Zite can do the pulling and push the stories you will like right to you.
Devices Designed for Personalization – While personalization isn’t limited to device like the iPad and smartphones; we owe a lot to these devices. It’s hard to get more personal than a smartphone or tablet, and our use whenever we have a minute to spare habits mean that it is more important than ever that apps and sites give us what we want right away.Surprisingly Zite is not a new company. Founded six years ago, Zite was originally aimed at search and discovery online. It wasn’t until recently that they set their sites on bringing personalization to the iPad in the current form.
The new push for personalization owes a lot of its roots to the, “Have it your way,” desires which pervaded the 90’s. While we saw attempts at personalization in the past, lack of data access, the right devices and willingness to cede control of our tastes wasn’t there. Thanks to these 5 trends, companies and apps are able to personalize content for us on the fly. A future where every online interaction and transaction is personalized for you is closer than you think.
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