Thursday, 27 August 2009

Use the data, Amazon

As a long-time loyal Amazon customer, I sometimes wonder just how personalised its product recommendations are. I rate books on the site assiduously, even those I haven’t bought from Amazon, and I’ve penned my share of reviews. So Amazon certainly has a great deal of data on my literary preferences.

Yet it didn’t seem to take that information into account prior to sending me its latest email of fiction recommendations. Of the eight books featured, I’d rated three of them on the site, and one of the titles—the book that featured in the subject line, oddly enough—I had just bought from Amazon last month. In fact, I'd even posted a rave review of the book on the site.

I don’t mind when the Amazon recommendation engine suggests I buy a book that I would read only if every other bit of reading material in the world--including cereal boxes and flat-pack furniture instructions--had been destroyed. In fact, sometimes when I have insomnia I visit just to see what recommendations it has for me.

But I do mind when a company with which I have spent a significant portion of my disposable income tries to sell me the exact item I’d purchased from it only a few weeks earlier, especially when said company has the technology and data to avoid doing so.--SC

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