Imagine if every visitor that landed on your site was shown content especially geared toward their interests. That’s been the aim of Gravity, a startup that AOL has announced it plans to acquire for $90 million.
Gravity has already been working with some of AOL’s properties including TechCrunch to customize content for individual users as well as companies like NBC and Disney. The company works with websites to deliver personalized front pages, depending on each visitor’s interests.
In an interview with Kara Swisher of Recode, Gravity CEO Amit Kapur says the company’s technology uses the behavior of individual users determining what they most often read and share to customize their experience on a website. He explains:
“So you go to a home page instead of seeing a thousand links on the page, it’s what’s the best stuff for this individual user. And it’s done by leveraging implicit signal. Which means that you don’t have to ask the user what they are interested in. You can actually just look at what they’re reading, look at what they’re sharing and linking, and build what we call an interest graph.”
So when you show an interest in a particular topic, Gravity will show those relevant stories to you. This is done either by a Chrome extension, or by a widget placed at the bottom of each post on a site, in the form of “Recommended For You” or “What You Missed.”
Gravity claims to index more than 1 billion pageviews each month, and that its personalized sites increase engagement by 240 percent compared to non-personalized Web properties. The company has also launched an API which gives anybody the ability to personalize their site.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong told Swisher:
“We think we can get a clearer signal with content with personalization to improve our results and better monetize what we offer. AOL is going to be a super-customer of Gravity. But this is about extending those capabilities even further as personal becomes the most important signal for publishers and advertisers.”
Armstrong said Gravity will continue to operate as an individual brand based in Santa Monica, Calif.
It’s been awhile since I’ve heard about AOL moving and shaking, but this sounds pretty cool. Cool enough that I wonder how they beat Yahoo to the punch (given Yahoo’s recent acquisition binge).