March 14th, 2011

#SXSWi Session Notes: How to Personalize Without Being Creepy

These are my raw notes from this session.

#seenocreepy Twitter hashtag

Foursquare 3.0 launch on Wednesday. Explorer takes all the Foursquare data recycled to help you decide what to do.

Washington Post new website called Trove launching in a couple of weeks. Customized aggregation model.

BizGreet has ads that changed based on who you are. Relevant advertising.

Privacy researcher at UC Berkley looks at how to not invade privacy barriers. is a website that personalizes. It predicts what you will like based on what you already like. Netflix for everything.

Life is goo short to see a generic website. Your attention and time is worth something, so the purpose of personalization is to give you something more relevant and better use of your time.

Do users have more control over their data? There needs to be clear and upfront information to the users so they understand how that information is gathered and ultimately used. Setting clear expectations.

People have a long tail of interests and no one publisher can meet all the needs of everyone.

People don’t read privacy policies and they definitely don’t read the changes along the way. Designers need to take this back from the lawyers.

Marketers are getting too excited about trying to get intimate with their consumers too fast.

Trust is something that is very fleeting and hard to gain back once it is violated.

Users don’t understand what is going on behind the scenes. Foursquare is pretty straightforward. But the confusing piece of it are the sites that track you with cookies across the web. People have no idea how that works; it is incredibly confusing.

Is it more important to have an opt-in on the front end more explicit or should we be really railing against those companies that make it incredibly difficult to opt-out?

Opt-in is an opportunity to up-sell and explain the benefits.

Social Code is an incubation project at Washington Post that works on Facebook advertising.

Difference between customization and personalization. Personalization takes information to drive information experiences in a different way. Customization is about the user clicking a checkbox.

Ideally, we don’t want to be surveilling your customers. Don’t keep such a detailed database on your customers that reveal things about your customers that they didn’t want revealed. Otherwise you could become the greatest treasure trove for divorce lawyers.

Creepy and embarrassment are on the same level. Violate human social protocols that are implicit.

It is up to the designers to anticipate creepy situations like liking hemorrhoid cream.

Just because your user gave your permission today, does not mean that they have given you permission to have that sat a and use it five years from now.

Exporting your private tastes to the public world is the rub with consumers. They are fine with announcing their tastes to their friends.

Google “ad preferences” and Google will tell you what they think you are interested in and you can make some choices there. There was recently a WSJ article about the ad re-targeting.

The question of human dignity is the “harm.”

Can’t be faceless.

Worry about the loss of serendipity. But you are discovering a lot of things that you would otherwise not have encountered. And there will still be serendipity because you can’t catch everything that is being thrown out at you. Has the definition of serendipity changed?

Sometimes you want to find something that none of your friends know about son you can be the one that discovers it.

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