Personalised Content & Recommendations

From Facebook to Netflix, social media platforms use personalisation to tailor content to their users.

Spotify is a great example of a service that makes use of personalisation to deliver tailored content.

One of their feature Discover Weekly, provides you a personalised playlist each week based on your listening history. To make it even more personal, Spotify uses your profile image as the playlist’s cover image.

If you ever create your own playlist, you will notice that below the playlist, Spotify recommends songs that you might like and allows you to add the suggested songs to the playlist without any hassle. If the playlist mainly contains indie songs, most likely Spotify’s algorithm will suggest indie songs that you may or may not listen before. Songs exploration has never been so easy!

Remember in the past (before even Shazam came out), whenever the radio plays a new song that we really like, we pay attention to the radio DJ to mention the song title right after the song is being played; or we try to remember the lyrics so that we can Google search for the song title and download the song illegally? Those days are gone.

Personalised Search

Ermmm.. Not feeling lucky anymore.

Another good example would be Google SERP. Over the years, Google search algorithm has changed. Keyword rankings are not accurate anymore, this is due to the need for personalisation. Let say you and I are going to do a Google search right now, with the same keyword — “MacDonalds near me”, are we going to get the same search results?

The answer is no. This is because the search result is being personalised, based on our device location and timezone. Even if a website is well-optimised for top search keywords, showing up and ranking #1 has become a completely different story.

Google is slowly shifting away from Search and moving towards Suggest. Year after year, the search engine approach has been exhausted. Users need an immediate way to get their questions answered, without having going through several webpages to find the answer.

Personalised Interface

Recently after updating my Facebook app, I noticed that there is a slight change to Facebook navigation. Yes, you guess it right, Facebook added a new feature — personalised navigation bar.

According to the Verge, “the new navigation bar will feature four to six of your most frequently used services”.

My friend’s Facebook timeline (left), my Facebook timeline (right).

If you look at the screenshots above, my Facebook navigation bar contains the profile icon, instead of the marketplace icon.

I like to read articles on Pocket, as it allows me to save articles to read offline. Whenever I came across a good article, I will share it on Facebook via the app. After sharing an article, I often visit my profile page to check whether the article is posted. Facebook noticed this behaviour, hence, replaced the marketplace icon (which I don’t really use) with the profile icon, allowing me to access my profile page and complete the task quicker.

Nir Eyal, the author of the book — “Hooked”, talked about Web 3.0 on his blog, he noted that:

The Curated Web is characterized by a fundamentally different value to users than the social web. Whereas Web 1.0 was characterized by content published from one-to-many and social media was about easily creating and sharing content, from many-to-many, the curated web is about capturing and collecting only the content that matters, from many-to-one. — Nir Eyal

Perhaps in the , it is not surprising to see algorithm restructures the contents and the modules of a website and tailors it to different users, based on their demographics and maybe, browser history and cache (while I hope that the future web will be decentralised & transparent).

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