The Very Near Future of the Web Part 4 – Personalization

originally posted on Concept Hub

The web has an unlimited number of choices of content; from information to entertainment to networking connections. The only way anyone can manage so many choice is if the choices are limited to just the type of content that is most relevant to us. More and more web services are tracking our online behavior to do just that.

In the next year we will see more and more of our personalized online life integrated with our offline life (if there will be such a thing as an offline life).

Recently Google announced that they signed a licensing agreement with TiVo. Now, many people might shrug their shoulders at that and move on with their life. I see this as another step toward integrating our online and offline lives.

Already Google enables personalized search results by tracking the history of the user and Google is the master of service up behavior based advertisements.

At TiVo, Todd Juenger, vp, gm, audience research and measurement, said, “Working with Google is an important milestone and represents a shared approach to developing innovative products and services to help the media industry better understand the effectiveness of ad campaigns in an evolving TV landscape.”

The more data that is collected the more personalized our experiences will be. And data is not just collected as we sit in front of our desktops or laptops, Google Mobile enables you to find what you want based on where you are at.

Overall, mobile technologies are growing rapidly because they have become our portable set of preferences.

For the holiday weekend we rented an SUV with Sirius radio. This was our first experience with Satellite radio and it was fun, for about the first 2 hours of our 6 hour trip. Before long we found ourselves flipping through hundreds of stations and finding nothing of interest.

This is the same with all of the cable television channels we pay for each month. We spend more time looking for something of interest to watch than we do being entertained.

Our solution has been to turn the television off in favor of web surfing. We hook the laptop up to a projector and surf through StumbleUpon video. StumbleUpon allows their community members to select categories of interest and then as it serves video, web pages, or photos, the user can give the content a thumbs up or a thumbs down, thus continuously personalizing their web surfing experience.

We also have a membership with Netflix which streams video directly to our laptop or our XBox360. We have ranked the videos we have watched and based on our rankings Netflix makes recommendations of what we would like to watch next.

As I buy and rate books on Amazon.com the sea of unlimited choices is narrowed down to recommendations of books that people like me like.

As I write this post, I am listening to the only country radio I could ever listen to, the one Pandora has customized for me based on my feedback.

This is the world we live in, a world where the choices we make online help our web services personalize our experiences.

As far as my family’s dilemma with too many stations and nothing to listen to on Satellite radio, my husband commented that he wished Satellite radio would allow him to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on the content it was serving…or we could just go to our Mobile Pandora stations.

Yes, the Internet and especially social media has provided us with an overwhelming amount of information and entertainment, but we are increasingly able to set our personal preferences as well as receive personalized recommendations.

As our experiences become more personalized, how will our behaviors change moving forward? Will we get tunnel vision and only focus on the few things that are comfortable for us or will our experiences expand as we find people who share the same interests as us but are also able to introduce new experiences? What new information will we be open to being exposed to and what information will we choose to tune out?

These are not only interesting social questions but also have rapidly become important questions for businesses to ponder.