Monday, April 2, 2012

Web Personalization, Online Privacy and the Fine Line Between Convenience and Creepy…

I think most would agree that there is something comforting about walking into your favorite coffee shop and having the barista start on your drink order before you even ask. It makes you feel a little more important, it makes you feel as though the shop cares - but does this comfort translate to an online experience?

Am I comforted by the fact that Google and or Amazon is presenting me with content before I search for it? Content that is targeted at  me based on things like; my location, my time of day, my gender, my browsing habits, my buying habits, my email, my social networking habits?

While I agree with what is stated below:
Without personalization, the Web is a 'static' environment where every user is presented  with the same content and users will select which content to view based on navigation  and search results. As a result without personalization Web Experience Management is  predominantly a low engagement 'pull' relationship that a user has with content.  Personalization changes this relationship into an environment where the web assists the  user in their voyage of discovery by pushing content to the forefront in a manner that is  specific to their 'journey' or interest. In this way the web content is deemed to be  managed and the content provided in context to the user.
I do wonder at what point does this become too much, or too close for comfort? Are the right safeguards in place to protect the privacy of the consumer? When do things like targeting, segmenting and personalization become more creepy than convenient?

Mobile devices have the ability to take this even a step further by making use of our location information to learn more about us, and we can already see examples of this happening today. Look at tools like Foursquare that allow consumers the ability to publish their every move and then reward them with store coupons as a result of sharing this information. (I actually use this feature and find it quite rewarding but there can be a dark side to this, as you can see in this article.)

Will we get to a point where we try to hide our digital footprint or will it just become a fact of life that we learn to accept? 

Now of course the above is written in the view point of my consumer life, but in my work life, I certainly welcome targeting, segmenting and personalization. In this context, the more personalization the better! If my intranet can better understand my needs by doing the following; tracking my content browsing habits; matching my profile to others based on similar areas of expertise; understanding the context of the content I am searching for; and then use this data to deliver more targeted content to me to help me do my work more efficiently - then bring it on! My next post will write more about this side of things so stay tuned…

1 comment:

  1. You are right. It's becoming a fine line between what is private & should remain private to only those that want it that way. And then there is the other part you are willing to share - but the problem is, it is getting harder to control what is what, & how to define the difference. Being social is one thing, but sharing it with the whole world without the means to monitor or edit it is very scary.