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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Do I Have Your Attention?

I'm intrigued by AttentionTrust's efforts on storing clickstream data. It's obviously very similar data to that which we collect to provide web analytics reporting. It is a different frame of reference though in that they are putting control in the hands of each visitor.

The information collected would be extremely valuable to marketers. What might Amazon "suggest" I consider looking at knowing that I read various Web Analytics and Search sites? Surely, topical books by Eric and John would magically appear as I browse the site. And that's without even logging in or previously visiting Amazon as far as they know (because, of course, I've deleted my cookies ;-)

According to the AttentionTrust site, there is still only one demo service provider collecting attention data. As they've noted, they have a chicken/egg problem: they need service providers and they need individuals to use the service.

So who gets it all started? Does it require a big player like Amazon to throw its weight behind the effort? Does the omnipresent Google get involved to add credibility, and balance doing no evil with collecting all information about everyone (of course...they already do this...without needing to share!)?

Or does the effort get a grassroots kick start? For example, could del.icio.us become a trusted service? Many individuals already trust del.icio.us to store some of their web history (made even easier to do with Flock). Wouldn't it be great to have them collect all of my clickstream data, allowing me to annotate (tag) particular pages of interest as I go (a browser plugin perhaps)? Then as I visit other sites, my del.icio.us username could be sent in the header of each request, allowing those sites to "see" my interests, for which I would be rewarded with generous discounts and offers - right?

Analytics products might be looking for new sources of information in this new world. There are still plenty of important metrics to be captured per web property, but there would be much deeper visitor data available to mine, given that we can solve a plethora of privacy issues first!

Stan James wrote the AttentionTrust ATX (firefox plugin). He's also the author of Outfoxed, which is a very interesting mashup of social networks and web interaction. He's taken the concept of trust to a different level, allowing folks to define other individuals they trust, to allow them a richer experience when searching and browsing. Very cool stuff.

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