Gifts.com has a Hunch what your friends want

Ronny Kerr · November 23, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/1407
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Partnership between online retailer and recommendation engine an obvious match, but is it perfect?

Is it possible? Could it be true? Is the Internet really trying to kill generic gift giving?

Gifts.com, a shopping site whose traffic must turn into a vertical slope around this time of year, announced Monday a partnership with Hunch, a service seeking to “personalize the Internet.”

Users who log in to Hunch (either via Facebook or Twitter) are immediately confronted with a set of 20 questions (e.g., “How many times in a typical day do you check your email?” or “Are you a part of Nature or apart from Nature?”); the questions at first don’t really seem to reveal too much about what kind of gifts the user would enjoy receiving. But Hunch uses this data, combined with the user’s friends’ likes and interests (if they logged in with a Facebook account), to make its best possible guess about the user’s “taste profile.”

hunches

My results (pictured above) aren’t that impressive. Maybe it will do better for others, but I don’t really watch TV or read magazines (maybe one of those 20 questions should have been more simple, like “Do you watch TV?”). Of course, any system of this kind only gets better with training and more input from a wider selection of users.

gifts.com + Hunch

Either way, Gifts.com has directly incorporated the Hunch recommendation engine directly at https://www.gifts.com/sff. Unlike on the actual Hunch site, users on Gifts.com can only log in with their Facebook account, not Twitter. The whole point of the system is to give shoppers an easy way to figure out what to buy their friends this holiday season. And not just generic gifts like gift cards or sweaters, but specific movie releases or books they might enjoy.

On the other hand, one problem leads to yet another. While it might be dead simple to find a personal gift for a friend, you’ll never know for sure (just through Hunch) whether the friend already owns the item or not. That is, unless the friend also uses Hunch and has marked the item as something he or she already owns (just a little unlikely). Still, it’s a step in the right direction for smart shopping.

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