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Online media aggregators have played a critical role in content discovery for years. According to Compete PRO, the News Aggregators and Socially Generated News category of websites has consistently garnered between 25-35M unique visitors a month over the last two years. While there has been a general decline in attention to the category, there is no denying that content discovery remains as relevant as ever – it’s just different.
With the ever increasing popularity of and general social reliance on Facebook comes a growing expectation of personalization. When you see a video or news story on Facebook, you see it because one of your friends found it interesting and thought his or her friends would also find it interesting. And they’re usually correct – that’s why you are friends. As a result, you are regularly presented with the content most relevant to your interests and develop an expectation of personalization. This idea becomes clear as day when you think about the recent social search integrations leveraged by Google and Bing.
The concept of personalization may also explain why juggernauts like digg.com, which just two years ago was averaging over 7M unique visitors and 25M total visits a month, is now coming in closer to 3M and 6M respectively. Digg.com presents loads of popular content in an easily digestible format, but there is virtually no personalization element, meaning that users rely on the general internet population to tell them what is worth consuming rather than a segment of people with similar interests and tastes.
It may also explain the growing popularity of StumbleUpon, which has seen 236% growth in unique visitors over the last year. This is in large part due to their iPad application released in July 2011, but the fact is that it has remained relevant in the personalized world. That’s because StumbleUpon gets to know its users by providing the opportunity to like or dislike content served or select from thousands interest categories and topics and ultimately delivers a personalized, relevant content experience.
We are living in a personalized world, and that’s not just important to media aggregators. All businesses must learn how to personalize their customers’ experiences and start doing it now – you’ve seen what can happen if you don’t.
Eric Keating is the Vice President of Syndicated Products at Millward Brown Digital. When Eric isn't thinking about product development and digital marketing, he’s probably brewing beer, exploring with his wife and dog, or working on his home. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.