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Svbtle

Fab.com and the Future of News

Fab.com’s founder, Jason Goldberg, today made declaration that flash sales will no longer be the focus of Fab emails. Instead the goal is to create as tailored an experience as possible for each user. He writes:

It’s really simple: Follow the stuff that excites you. We’ll personalize your Fab experience on-site based on what you follow.

We’ll also only send you notifications when there are new arrivals of the stuff you follow, and you’re in complete control of how you hear from us.

His language may create the impression of a drastic pivot, but Fab has been moving towards this user-centric content experience for a while now. They’ve been cautiously introducing elements of social commerce: feeds incorporating what your Facebook friends “love” or recommendations of items similar to what you’ve “loved”. Creating a better way to discover things you love is a critical element in what Goldberg believes can be a move away from Amazon-led commodity commerce, to an era of “emotional commerce” (a must read for anyone in ecommerce).

How come when I go to the NY Times homepage, except for a tiny “Recommended for You” section way below the fold, I see the same articles as everyone else (I’m checking in if this is true for subscribers to the website), but the same holds true for BostonGlobe.com, FT.com, etc. Even with the opportunity to know an incredible amount about their users, the content delivery experience is identical. When you land there you’ll see stories that have been deemed important not for you, but for everyone. There’s certainly some news that is universal and necessary, but even the most old-school of editors can’t argue that we should completely disregard what the user has already shown interest in.

There are a number of companies trying to create tailored content experiences like Flipboard, Prismatic, Zite, etc. Instead of looking at the Flipboard model as simply a distribution channel to be partnered with, news organizations need to start thinking of them as the type of technology to power their own delivery. Personalization is not a feature, it’s a mindset, that’s a radical shift from the way news organizations have functioned for decades. Take a lesson from Jason Goldberg and put your users first.

 
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