Interest Graph: Very Common But Difficult Direction
Marissa Mayer mentioned interest graph as one of important directions for internet service providers. The word itself is not new but its nuance is a little different from the remarks of other experts. This is because she experienced the real world of contextual play at Google as the head of search business. Many people know what the concept is but most do not know how it can be obtained or how to monetize through its analysis.
According to wikipedia, an interest graph is “the specific and varied interests that form one’s personal identity, and the attempt to connect people based on those interests”. For example, if you really like jazz and are always on Spotify to listen to your favorite songs, your interest is jazz. By purchasing digital contents such as MP3 formatted songs or video files or actual products that you bought at Wall-Mart or any other internet shopping mall, you have provided a lot of information to them. Now, they try to analyze this information to know you more. To be specific, service providers want to be familiar with meaningful result, which can be utilized for several business models.
However, it is not easy to know the customers’ actual preference just by analyzing the interest graph. There are many information so accessing these data is not a big problem. Like the words, “garbage in, garbage out”, the quantity of data is not a critical point. What companies really want to get is the consistent and relevant information about each user. I would like to focus on this seemingly issue about the interest graph. Why is it difficult to obtain “consistent and relevant information”?
First, people use specific service for their preference. Some people watch video files through Netflix while others use Hulu. Sometimes the service provider could be Youtube. Because there is a specific difference between these services, users can change service providers. To top it off, their service usage are separate from search to feedback. In my case, I like to find what I want to read through Google search engine. After I check out which site provides the selected book the cheapest, I order the book from the site that I selected. And I would write the summary or comments about the book on my blog. Through this process, who can know my reading style. This is the reason why many people and companies focus on search services and curation services. Among these services, some companies successfully intrigue users’ interests and motivate them to take part in services actively by customization and compensation.
Second, it is difficult to obtain data maintained for a comparatively long time. Even though I can grab the entire value chain or usage process about a user, the credibility of analysis result comes from sufficient retention time. Without collaboration or innovative complement method, service provides without sufficient users who have loyalty to a service cannot actualize the interest graph. Interestingly, Marissa Mayer transformed Yahoo’s mail service as the first change after her designation of the CEO of the company. Among a lot of silos, Yahoo’s e-mail service seems to be one of its reliable option to leverage its user pool to revitalize Yahoo’s contents delivery power. Whether it is a stepping stone for the interest graph or not, I think that Marissa Mayer’s choice will be strategically effective to attract its present and past loyal users.
Lastly, the interest graph is based on personal information, which is very sensitive and sometimes brings about serious privacy issues. Recently there has been an issue between the French government and Twitter. Many governments think that it is very problematic for their citizens if their information is provided to other countries by the service provider. A big brother cannot be welcomed by anyone. People do not want to be infringed from service providers, which always seek information from their customers or users for multiple objectives. Although many service providers get admission from their users about agreement of personal information provision, it is not sufficient for service providers to conduct more valuable tests. For this reason, some big players operate their services by establishing regional entities.
Regardless of various limit and issues, the interest graph is a very attractive strategic direction to follow on a business side. If it successfully works, it will activate users as well as attract them.
P.S. You can check out Marissa Mayer’s comments from the following website.