Personalization should be "key company value," not just an "add-on feature," argues TechCrunch guest editorial

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 11:00am

Pandora's personalizationPersonalization is almost certainly one of the keys to the success of webcasters like Pandora, Slacker and others. Yet some, like Clear Channel's Bob Pittman, argue personalization is just a "feature" -- an add-on. Pittman even refers to his own personalizable radio service, iHeartRadio's Custom Stations, as a feature. It's "not what we do," he said recently (RAIN coverage here).

That's the wrong way to go about personalization, argues Baynote CTO and co-founder Scott Brave (Baynote is a provider of intent-based personalization solutions for multi-channel retailers). "The companies that win are the ones making personalization a key company value – not just a feature," Brave writes in an opinion piece for TechCrunch.

"Winning companies approach personalization as a core value of how they do business – a 'customer-centric' philosophy – rather than an add-on 'feature.'" Brave points to several examples of personalizable services beating out others: Flipboard vs. Yahoo! News, Google's Alfred vs. Opentable and yes, Pandora vs. other streaming radio options. 

"When Pandora allowed users to input their music preferences through both explicit selections and implicit actions to help shape their content stream, it changed the listening experience... After Pandora, just listening to the radio online seemed like a waste of time."

You can find Brave's editorial from TechCrunch here.

Video service VEVO adds web radio-like personalization features

Friday, March 9, 2012 - 11:30am

VEVOOnline video service VEVO (the second largest such site after YouTube) has added new features that should sound familiar to fans of personalizable web radio. "It makes the experience more competitive with Spotify and Pandora than before, with the added benefit of videos," in TechCrunch's opinion.

Among the new features:

  • Integration with music intelligence platform The Echo Nest to offer personalized music video recommendations.
  • Integration with Facebook to offer custom playlists based on Facebook likes and activities.
  • Integration with iTunes to create a playlist filled with videos by users' most listened-to artists.
  • VEVO now plays music videos continuously, making it "more of a long-play" service, TechCrunch writes (here).

(We should note that, for whatever reason, RAIN couldn't find or wasn't offered any of the Facebook, Echo Nest or iTunes features on VEVO's website).

Infinite Player experiment designed to allow listener to custom-tailor NPR content with minimum of input

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 11:00am

National Public Radio today launched what it calls an "experiment" to deliver its audio content to listeners in a new way: Infinite Player. It's a non-stop, "lean-back," listener-influenced stream of NPR content one might liken to "Pandora for spoken word content."NPR Infinite Player

"The explosion of Internet-connected devices has created listening opportunities almost everywhere... vastly expanding the ways people find and listen to audio," NPR writes in a blog entry, introducing the service. "Many of these new use cases lend themselves particularly well, if not exclusively, to this 'distracted' listening model... Audio is playing in the background. You may be listening quite intently. But you're also doing other things."

NPR fans could always simply tune in to a member station, either traditionally or online. NPR also offers a "live" non-stop stream of its programming. In either case, it's "hit a button and go" listening, but neither can be tailored to reflect the listener's taste. It's purely "push" programming. On the other side of the coin, offers listeners thousands of hours of on-demand programming, from its most popular shows to the latest news cast, interviews, and in-depth journalism. The listener can hunt and choose for exactly what she wants, or queue stories in a playlist to run consecutively. "All this requires a lot of the user's attention," writes NPR. "That model works very well for some people in some cases; but it's a far cry from the roots of radio in which the listener simply hits a button and listens."

Enter Infinite Player. Launch the stream, and NPR's latest "top of the hour" newscast plays. Then, it automatically begins to stream a series of on-air items ("stories we think you'll like from NPR's three main focus areas, news, arts and life, and music"). The player allows you to skip to the next item, pause, and "30-second rewind" (like you might find on a DVR).

There's also "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" buttons designed to enable the listener to "teach" the player the types of items she likes to hear most (by way of example, NPR specifically mentions Facebook, Zite, Flipboard, Pandora, and YouTube's LeanBack).NPR logo

NPR is also experimenting with special versions of the player that incorporate local, member-station content with its national content (KQED, Michigan Radio, and KPLU).

Read NPR's blog entry on the new Infinite Player here. Give it a try here (You'll have to either register or sign in with an NPR login, or Facebook, Yahoo, or Google ID. Also, it only works in Chrome or Safari at the moment.).

Syndicate content