Continuing on with my Personalization series, I want to focus on personalization that caters to what you do on the web site. We most commonly refer to this as Amazon’s approach. Amazon does a great, but not perfect, job of recommendations based on your actual actions on the site. Personalization of this sort would focus on the following:
- You viewed this article on healthy eating, you might like these three other articles
- You bought the Little People video. Other people who bought that also bought……..
I could continue on with examples but it’s more of the same. This type of personalization focuses on what you read, viewed, bought, liked, or commented on a site. Simple personalization at this level would use keywords and a simple search to find other related content and display it. More complex personalization would look at what you did on the site and then make recommendations the next time you visited. Really complex activity based personalization would do all of that and include analysis of related activities. That’s where people who bought this also bought….. comes into play.
The good and the bad of activity based personalization
For commerce based sites, this type of personalization has high potential. Other sites not as focused on the selling of widgets may stretch to find value. Add in the fact that good activities based personalization demands that you really look into what your users are doing and then map activities of similar users to make recommendations to you. That implies complex web analytics, user segmentation engines, trained resources to implement this type of thing, etc. In other words, it’s not cheap.
Add in that it’s not always perfect. I use Amazon………. a lot. I love science fiction books, Fringe, cool technical gadgets, and energy saving books/gadgets. Here’s what Amazon recommends for me right now:
- Fringe Season 5
- The Grand Season 1 (TV for people who love Jane Austen)
- A Throne of Bones (Juvenile Fiction)
- The Tutors Daughter
- Amazon Kindle Accelerated charger
- Lego Hobbit kit
- A Texas Instruments Calculator
They are spot on with Fringe and the Kindle Charger. They miss on everything else. What Amazon doesn’t take into account of course is that I fill several roles at Amazon including me, husband, and father of kids ranging from ages 5 to 14. My purchases and interest take up about 40% of the total. 60% comes from my two other roles. That’s not really Amazon’s fault but it suggests that you can get recommendations wrong if you don’t really understand your user. So if you choose to go down this route, be prepared to make an investment in understanding your user and in tailoring the site to their wants.