Maybe Personalization Isn't That Important

from the whooops dept

For years, it’s been standard practice of most e-commerce sites to try to “personalize” their offering to each user. Companies spent ridiculous amounts of money to offer personalized pages that matched the users specific interests. A new Jupiter study suggests they shouldn’t have bothered. The study found that personalized sites meant it was even more likely that visitors wouldn’t actually buy anything – though, it cost four times as much to maintain a personalized website. At the same time, many people avoided using personalized pages, because they were afraid of what the companies would do with their personal information. In other words, they valued the anonymity aspect much more than whatever personalized results they would get. If you look at the details, though, it isn’t necessarily a slam on personalization entirely – but on prioritizing personalization above such basic things as search and easy navigation. Those things are much more important to users than a “welcome back, your name here” tag at the top of each page. The other issue (not mentioned in the article) is that most personalization technology just isn’t very good. There’s almost no benefit to users. In the cases where it does seem to work well, though, people don’t seem to mind as much. Many people like Amazon or NetFlix recommendations, for example, and end up buying more because of them. However, many other sites just seem to put your name at the top of the page, and then pitch items “just for you”, that are clearly the junk they’re trying to clear out.

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Comments on “Maybe Personalization Isn't That Important”

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Alex (user link) says:

No Subject Given

Personalization is actually good. But there should be just one player in the personalization market. Maybe two or three to choose from, the companies who are in the portal business. The service like My Yahoo! comes to mind. Yahoo should be in business of providing personalized pages, everyone else should be providing plug-ins or accessible data.
Yahoo currently has that with some banks and brokers, but the selection is not too impressive. Also, there’re some features, like plug-in of RSS feeds and external mailboxes that are non-existant on My Yahoo. So the opportunity is ripe for someone to come out there and support XML-driven standards to create personalized portals. But that doesn’t mean that every mom and pop online store should have personalized features.

Anonymous Coward says:


Someone should whisper a similar idea to the people still coding pathetic, shiny chrome into mozilla. I know it’s less glamourous, but how about some Roaming, folks? It’s been 2-3 years now, and two changes in chrome methods, and still there’s nothing compatible with the older, dependable (if uninspired) roaming model.

(Yeah, I could code that myself, apparently, but I don’t know how. I’m just a stupid user, trying to convince my co-workers why mozilla’s better than NS4 or IE, unable to respond to such a glaring incompatibility: “Yeah, well IE doesn’t have Roaming either; we’ll just use that like everyone else”)

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