We Gave Users Control Over Personalisation and This Is What They Told us

Eilis Boyle
Product Owner

Sep 26, 2019

We’ve been taking stock of more than a year’s worth of user research. We’ve conducted more than 100 in-person interviews and surveys of more than 1,900 people. Understanding the biggest challenges people are facing when consuming information and testing solutions as we listen to them has been at the core of our process.

We'd like to share more insights from our field research into the evolution of attitudes to personalisation.

The headline is an increasing convergence between users and publishers around the need for a more purpose-driven personalisation. In other words, user-centred technology which gives readers/viewers more personal agency and control.

Until now personalization has been defined by the surveillance of passive users. But we see a definite shift away from recommender systems which rely solely on behavioural data.

Publishers tell us they are increasingly interested in contextual signals (e.g. location, device, time of day, mode of transport) and semantic analysis, which helps them structure and tag their content for better discovery. The next frontier is user intention. 

We’ve incorporated behavioural, contextual and semantic signals into our systems. We’ve also been testing user experiences built around explicit user choices. First results show significant increases in engagement. Here are the rates of interaction with personalisation features in our first publisher integration, a personalised newsletter for a regional newspaper group:

As we continue listening, building and testing, our research efforts will focus on understanding how user intentions and actions shape each person’s information experience. How can we help readers find focus on what matters to them most and how can we help publishers deliver the information readers want whilst keeping a door open for exploration, serendipity and surprise?

We are always in search of people who’d like to join our research programs so if you think this is something you’d be interested in, send us an email to research@kinzen.com.