Can a single algorithm deliver relevance… across seasons, different web properties, between global cultures and among differing offering categories? Personally, I have troubles trying to predict behavior in the people I’ve known for many years. The human heart and mind act in sometimes strangely unpredictable ways. Isn’t that the part of humanity that’s really great? I think so!
Algorithms to deliver relevance need to accurately reflect consumer information – behavior, demo / psycho-graphics, and other. The difficulty with this model is that only the smallest of slivers of a consumers life revolves around any single brand – though we would all like to believe differently:-) Also, until you get reams of data surrounding an individual, how do you actually recommend. In the on line world this is particularly debilitating because over half of website traffic bounces from good sites right away and only a small sliver (used the word twice) of traffic actually makes it to a conversion… and an even smaller sliver (gotta stop using that word) comes back and makes it to a second second conversion. So, algorithmic personalization or recommendations really are only capable of helping a small portion of your consumers, after you get to know them.
An actuary can build statistical models that deal with vast population samples, telling the breakdown of what will proportionally happen in certain events. That’s interesting but it also deals with averages across large groups of people. Not necessarily valid to the point of algorithmically driven recommendations or optimization of an individual and their purchase potential or drivers.
I don’t intend to close the door on the subject, I do believe these approaches are helpful when other data is not available or when you have A LOT of information and you want to solve a retention / lifetime value issue… which are both great issues to solve. From my experience though, many brands believe they can use these technologies, in particular recommendation engines, to help solve an acquisition problem. Hmmm.
Love to hear your thoughts!