Behaviour-based Automatic Personalisation

Behaviour-based Automatic Personalisation

View profile for David Gilroy
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The concept of personalisation is almost as old as the internet itself - the basic idea being that a user tells the site about their interests which then allows the website to customise particular pages (usually the homepage) to provide direct access to the most relevant information for that particular user. The approach was popular 15 years ago but you don't see it very often any more largely because experience showed that only a very small proportion of users could be bothered.

The problem with personalisation is that it requires some effort on the part of the user - they have to register and then interact to specify their interests. Very often the benefit of doing this is just not enough to justify the effort involved.

But the creative minds at Conscious Solutions have developed a new take on this old issue - we call it Behaviour-based Automatic Personalisation. The objective is to achieve some degree of user-based customisation without the user having to do anything at all - it just happens. Sounds cool - it is!

What is Behaviour-based Auto Personalisation?

The Conscious technical platform has a Personalisation Module which tracks the usage pattern of the current user. If the user shows more interest in "private client" pages then they do in "commercial client" pages then their homepage is then adjusted to prioritise the display of private client material. The key point is that this all happens automatically, the user doesn't have to do anything.

How Does it Work?

The homepage is built in the normal way and usually consists of several individual objects (images, news stories, welcome text, blog lists etc.). What's different is that each object is tagged as being either "general", "commercial client" or "private client" - and the display of these objects is then adjusted based on the user's recent behaviour.

The control is based on a simple model. If the user visits a page that is within the "private client" section of the site a "homepage-preference" counter is increased by 1.......and if they visit a "commercial client" page the counter is decreased by 1.  If the counter reaches a predetermined threshold (say +10 or -10) the personalisation logic on the homepage is triggered (but until then all the users are treated the same way).

Design Implications

Obviously the homepage has to be designed with this approach in mind. However, one simple option is not to change the homepage at all but rather only adjust the order of the objects on the homepage. If there is a slider featuring several things the order of these can be adjusted based on the cookie, for example, the "private-client" material can be made to display first. But whether we adjust the order of objects or hide things altogether the tech is much the same.