A new personalized news site called Spotback launched yesterday that will customize news based on the aggregate tracking of an individual user's behavior. This will involve tracking how users manually customize their news and rate stories they have read. Techcrunch has the scoop here.
This is compared with Eurekster’s "passive tracking," which uses a click stream analysis of all users of a given site to refine search results over time and make them more relevant to the population of users of that site. Another difference lies in Spotback's positioning as a destination site where users can set up a personalized news page, whereas Eurekster provides a platform that any Web publisher or content producer can plant on his or her site to improve search results and apply contextual advertising.
This is an important distinction in the market as more and more companies are trying to decide between a destination strategy and one that involves a platform for distributing or syndicating content or advertising across affiliate sites. This distinction is becoming increasingly relevant in the classifieds space, as will be explored in the second installment of our newspaper White Paper, due out in the next few weeks (a summary of the first installment is here).
Each news item on Spotback can be rated by a user, saved, and/or emailed to others (click on image to right for larger view). Users may comment on any story. The source of the news item can also be marked, to tell Spotback to include more news like this, or to block items like it (or from that source). Finally, users can also customize the page to include whatever news categories they like (business, sports, etc.) or an RSS reader widget, which allows a user to add any news source that may not already be included in the Spotback index.
This personalization will no doubt lead to good ad targeting opportunities for the site, although its current monetization strategy is unclear. Like Eurekster and others before it, the site will likely first try to gain exposure and traffic. We'll follow the site closely to see where it goes and how it does.