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Tailored content leaders say potential is yet to be unlocked

Richard Bell

Two leading providers of digital magazines offering tailored content – Prismatic and Zite – have said that, while personalised content has come a long way, its true potential is yet to be unlocked.

Speaking at this year’s paidContent Live event on Wednesday, the CTO and co-founder of Prismatic, Aria Haghighi, said that companies pushing to offer their readership a truly personalised experience have yet to agree on a definition.

Haghighi explained:

“We don’t all agree on what personalization means. I agree [that it means pointing you to] stuff you care about… some people think it’s only getting signal from noise.

“I think we’re really early. I don’t think we’ve matured to point [sic] where we [the industry] have philosophical differences yet.”

Mark Johnson, the CEO of Prismatic’s competitor, Zite, said he believes there is much to be done in the field. He said that current offerings in personalised content are great at pinpointing and presenting what a reader is after, but there is room for improvement.

Observers have pointed out that the main challenge in providing a personalised feed is the fact that everyone likes different things.

While Zite and Prismatic’s offerings exist in app form, many businesses with an online presence are also recognising the importance of quality content – with the focus being more on improving conversion rates and giving people a reason, besides the product or service offerings, to visit the site.

Both Johnson and Haghighi agreed that a shared aim is to help users understand why certain content is being shown to them. Haghighi further explained that there’s more to be done than just presenting a suitable article; people feel uncomfortable if they don’t fully understand why an article has been recommended.

Johnson added that while a large aspect of the recommendation is social and is influenced by what a user’s friends like – or what is trending among people with similar interests – this only represents the surface of a much deeper potential.

Richard has a First in English Literature and Creative Writing, and has experience writing fiction and short stories (which he has published both online and in magazines).

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