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14/09/2011 / loyaltymarketingnews

Gift Engine Predicts What Your Facebook Friends Want

Facebook’s 750 million-member social network makes connecting with family members, friends and occasional acquaintances easy. More friends means more birthdays and anniversaries to remember. For the thoughtful among us, that equates to more gifts to buy.

Herein lies the promise of GiveEmThis, a simple to use gift-giving assistant from Imply Labs. It promises to help you discover gift ideas your Facebook friends might actually want.

Sign in with Facebook. Select a Facebook friend. Enter the friend’s gender and age (the info will auto-populate if it’s in your friend’s Facebook profile), and enter the person’s Twitter user name (if he has one). A few seconds later, GiveEmThis will spit out a selection of gift ideas — all sourced from Amazon for the time being — tailored to your friend’s interests.

The GiveEmThis prediction engine, powered by Imply Labs’ predictive technology, considers a Facebook user’s demographic data, as well as her on-site behaviors and patterns. Events, status updates, shared links and “Likes” all factor into Imply Labs’ arcane algorithmic calculations. Twitter data is computed, albeit to a lesser extent, and natural language processing is used to understand the context of status updates.

The sum total of everything Imply Labs can glean about a person via social data makes its way into individual user profiles. These profiles rub up against Amazon’s catalogue to generate product matches.

How well does it work? Imply Labs founder Zack Oates says 87% of users found the right gift for themselves, based on survey data the startup collected from alpha testers.

Even so, we think GiveEmThis has plenty of room for improvement. It works really well — except for when it doesn’t. I highly doubt my friend and colleague Ben Parr, a diehard Chicago Bears fan, would ever appreciate Green Bay Packers gear.

“The more users that we get, the more that we can improve the algorithm,” Oates counters “It’s a constantly learning system.”

In due time, GiveEmThis product listings will expand to include Zappos’ product catalog, and Imply Labs will eventually allow companies to add their own products to the system. GiveEmThis will also get Google+ and LinkedIn integration, Oates says.

GiveEmThis is the consumer-facing version of the startup’s prediction engine. Imply Labs will also provide businesses with a white label version of its predictive technologies.


(via Mashable)


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