The pros and cons of personalization
By Chris Hogg
Personalization can deliver tremendous benefits to both companies and readers. Facebook’s Newsfeed or Google’s Search results learn from what you like and don’t like, and they get better at showing you more information they think you want to consume. If you stop clicking on certain links, personalized information feeds stop showing them to you.
From the user’s point of view, personalization helps cut through content overload and it takes users right to content they’re likely to want to consume.
From a company’s point of view, it increases the amount of time a user spends on a website, users return more often and higher engagement levels are seen by delivering personalization.
But what about the content we’re not seeing? How do our perceptions of the world around us change when we have content curated, automatically for us? The subject of personalization is something I often discuss with friends, colleagues and businesses I work with. I believe that as we see more and more content coming online, deciding what not to show is just as important as what we do show.
Editors have historically been tasked with curating the world of information and showing people not only on what they think they want to know, but also things they don’t know they need to know. The boring stuff is often important.
Then along came the Internet and businesses started looking at ways to automate curation. Facebook is built on this very technology. Increasingly, we’re seeing both individuals and media companies turn to technology to help curate content in this way.
Today I stumbled upon this TED talk from Eli Pariser that addresses this very subject, and he gives a few good illustrative examples. Pariser is the author of a book called Filter Bubble which addresses personalization, and his talk is quite insightful: