GenuineVC David Beisel's Perspective on Digital Change

June 1, 2005

Yesterday I posted about how I believe the consumption of media is trending towards becoming both personalized and predictive. I not only want to listen/read/view media that I know I want, but also want have media served up to me that I don’t even know that I want.

The RSS protocol provides me the first step towards personalizing the content I receive. I can subscribe to any blogger, podcaster, or news site feed that I desire. Even better, I can set up a NewsGator Smart Feed to monitor a certain subject area or keep updated on what’s being said about a specific company. With RSS, I receive the information how I want it, when I want it. And that I really like.

Yet, for the most part, I need to actively seek the content that I desire. What I really want is the content to find me.

Findory, though, is a company that is pushing forward with a vision of delivering content that is both personalized and predictive. For both news and blogs, the company’s service recommends content based on what I’ve read in the past. In their words,

“Our personalization algorithm combines statistical analysis of the article’s text and behavior of other users with what we know about articles you have previously viewed.”

So as I continue to read my Findory RSS feed, the better it becomes about predicting what content is most relevant to me. I’ve been using this service for a few months now, and it has grown to learn that I like news articles about blogs, technology, and venture capital. In short, Findory allows the right article to find me, as opposed to me looking for the article.

Interestingly, earlier this week Findory launched its personalized advertising engine. So not only is the company serving up content that’s personalized and predictive, but it’s attempting to do the same with advertisements as well. In the words of founder Greg Linden,

“Just as Findory’s personalization engine matches content to interested audiences, our personalized advertising matches advertisements to interested people. After all, at its best, advertising is a form of content. It is useful when it is relevant.”

(John Battalle offers some additional color here.)

When advertising becomes both personalized and predictive, it actually becomes content – advertorial content. At Sombasa Media, the company I previously co-founded, we were heading towards this vision before we were acquired. As our archived home page and technology page note,

“Sombasa transforms marketing materials into content that is both anticipated and welcomed by its recipients… [The company's] proprietary technology matches merchants’ products to a specific user’s profile, determining how “appropriate” each item is for a particular subscriber. With a list of matches between merchandise and a user’s tastes, Sombasa’s technology generates and delivers a unique and personalized e-mail publication for each recipient.”

Yes, that was five years ago and our venue was e-mail instead of RSS. We were making only the first steps towards a vision of personalized predictive advertising. Findory, however, is now making much longer strides towards both personalized predictive content and advertising. And I believe that is the future.

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