Wouldn't it be nice if you could find interesting things to read on the mobile Web much more quickly and easily?
Now, CBS Mobile says that it has just the feature on its mobile WAP site to help readers dig deeper into mobile Web sites and to find the stories they want to read much more easily. The media giant has partnered with a company called Aggregate Knowledge, which sifts through click-histories of every story on the site and looks at users in aggregate in order to find patterns in those clicks so that it can recommend the most relevant Web content based on what other people with similar tastes are reading and clicking on.
The companies plan to formally announce their partnership on Wednesday, and the new feature will appear on the CBS Mobile Web site starting this week.
CBS hopes that by using the Aggregate Knowledge technology, which is already used on traditional Web sites like BusinessWeek.com and WashingtonPost.com, it will be able to deliver more targeted and relevant content to the people who visit the CBS Mobile Web site.
"What we are really trying to do is make the discovery of content on the phone much easier and more relevant than it is today," said Jeff Sellinger, executive vice president of CBS Mobile. "If we can make it easier to get to content that people want, they'll have a much better experience and they'll come back."
Mobile phones are highly personalized devices. And the general consensus among mobile experts is that people want highly relevant content when they search the Web from a mobile phone. They are typically looking for something specific, and they don't have the time or patience to click through several menus to find what they want.
The example Aggregate Knowledge uses is suppose a user reads an article about "super delegates." He might be led to a story about the upcoming democratic primaries because others who read about the super delegates went on to read about the primary.
The CBS Mobile Web site will display suggested articles in the form of "Your Headlines." Because content suggestions are user-driven, they change throughout the day based on natural shifts in interest from morning news, to feature articles, to breaking stories and trends.
CBS is using the technology initially to help direct relevant news stories to users. But in the future it could use it to also deliver targeted advertising to cell phone users.
For example, if someone is reading a story about new high-definition TVs, a link might appear next to the article that says, "People who read this article bought this Sony TV."
It will be interesting to see how well the technology actually works in this capacity. Also, once you throw advertising into the mix, mobile operators will likely be looking for their cut of the revenue. So it could take awhile for CBS Mobile and others to hash out a deal to include targeted advertising. Even though mobile operators say they want to offer advertising, they have been slow to try it.