Slickstream Recommendations

One of the pillars of web engagement is getting people to visit more content on your site when they visit. We like to talk about the "buried treasure" problem. As a publisher, you know that you have lots of wonderful content on your site. It is frustrating that your visitors aren't aware of it.

Our recommendations feature addresses this opportunity: present visitors with other content on the site that may interest them. You have, no doubt, seen other widgets that list popular, latest, or related content. At the surface, our "filmstrip" widgets are no different. They offer visitors a list of other content that they can visit with a single click.

You are probably already familiar with our filmstrip widgets. Typically the main filmstrip is placed just below the banner of the page, with small "cards" for each recommended post. It is "infinitely" scrollable so that visitors who are interested can scan for as much as they are interested in before making a choice.

Our filmstrip toolbar is very similar but is designed to appear right at the top of the page when people have scrolled down the page, to remind them of this other content -- especially when they might be preparing to leave the page. Based on our experience, many users will begin to scroll up before they leave, and this is a great time to show them the filmstrip toolbar.

The recommendations feature is not just these widgets, though. Our servers in the cloud are constantly monitoring content on your site and we look at every visit on your site and analyze what visitors do. Using all of this information, we assemble a unique set of recommended content for each different context. It will vary depending on what page the visitor is on, plus a lot of other more subtle factors. The goal is to maximize the probability that the visitor will see something that catches their attention and gets them to click on it to get to that content.

This isn't a one-time function. Our recommendation engine is constantly making fine-tuning adjustments and even testing different variations to see what works best. So each time you visit one of your pages, you may see the contents of our filmstrip widgets changing slightly.

Many publishers have asked us about fine-tuning the content in the filmstrip. While there are ways for publishers to affect what does and doesn't appear in these recommendations, most of the time we encourage you to experience them a little before jumping to conclusions. Remember that the contents are affected to a large extent by what visitors are actually choosing in these lists, so they tend to get better and better over time. Also, while you might think certain of your posts are the "best", we've learned that giving visitors lots of very similar posts is often an excellent strategy and we use "affinity" as our key metric to seed our recommendations.

Your Slickstream portal also has a lot to tell you about recommendations. There is a whole page there filled with interesting data about how visitors are using recommendations. This can help you understand the types of recommended content people visit most often from certain contexts. In fact, we've found that clickthrough on recommendations is higher on sites that tend to have "clusters" of related content. You may want to think about building additional content that is closely related to your most popular content.