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Ambient Findability by Peter Morville

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Personalization

So far, we've focused on active, directed seeking, empowering users to find what they want when they want it. But findability isn't limited to pull. Findability is also concerned with how information and objects find us. What factors influence our exposure to new products, people, and ideas? AdWords algorithms, one-to-one marketing, intelligent agents, email alerts, collaborative filtering, contextual advertising: what tools can we use to turn the tables on findable objects? How do we bring the mountain to Mohammed?

We are talking, of course, about personalization, a strange hybrid of push and pull that dwells in the borderlands between marketing and technology. The promise of personalization is simple: by modeling the behavior, needs, and preferences of an individual, we can serve up customized, targeted content and services. The benefits to the user are clear. No more searching. Information comes to you. Web, email, instant messenger, mail, phone, fax: select the best channel, define your interests, and you're set. And the value proposition for marketing is even greater. Targeted advertising, customized messaging, differential pricing, and product personalization offer huge opportunities to cut costs, boost sales, and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy. In fact, personalization is exceedingly difficult. Yes, there are notable exceptions. In cases where our needs are simple to describe (or derive) and relatively unchanging, ...

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