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Carr also sees an increased interest in geo-targeting. He says, "I think a lot more businesses are going to start using it as geography plays a more important role on the Web."
Some marketers also now are relying on behavioral targeting to facilitate a more robust and intelligent site-visitor experience. Solutions from such companies as San Diego-based N-Space Technology Inc. use the visitor's clickstream data collected automatically by the site to offer automated, real-time personalization. Carr cites this as a more complex solution that requires a greater level of commitment. "That application will have to run for a certain amount of time, and you have to have the right amount of users," he describes. "Because if you don't have a large enough sample size, you can deliver the wrong stuff. It's time consuming, but the technology's great."
Currently, marketers most at ease with optimizing personalization tactics include retailers and the travel industry, according to McGrane. The trend, however, favors ever-growing expectations on the part of the public, and therefore increasing efforts from marketers. Blogs, photo blogs and Wikis already allow consumers to contribute their own content to the Internet and, in essence, become publishers. Matt Grover, director of application development for Resource Interactive, notes, "These sorts of content-enabling tools are making consumers more and more part of the Web experience." He foresees users will come to expect the same sort of interaction on e-commerce sites.
Additionally, both Sandler and Carr see real simple syndication (RSS) shaping the personalization landscape in the near future. Carr envisions customers choosing to receive content from marketers on a continuous basis, and being able to do so by grabbing a marketer's RSS feed and putting it in their inbox.
Sandler adds, "As content becomes more portable, the channels in which you choose to consume that content are becoming more personalized." Video and text feeds for your iPod and cell phone are just two examples of that trend. And as content travels, it'll be increasingly important to not only personalize it, but also allow consumers to control the cadence and the way that content is consumed.