It pays to know you: Interest graph master Gravity gets $10.6M

Interest graph specialist Gravity has raised $10.6 million to expand its business of personalizing the web for consumers. Thanks to a semantic engine that associates the content site visitors read with related topics, Gravity says it can show readers just what they want to see.

Today in Social

Twitter is adding a critical new targeting capability to its Promoted Tweets and Accounts ads that run in its feed: topical targeting. This is a big deal, because Twitter’s “interest graph” could in theory be a very powerful ad targeting mechanism. Advertisers can still promote to followers and try to reach Twitter users with topical interests similar to those of  followers. Advertisers can also customize the new topic categories by adding in followers and specific users as models of topical interests. Of course it all depends on how good Twitter’s analysis of topics is, but that’s its Big Data science bet. Twitter is also lowering the minimum bid price in the auction-based system it uses for ad bidding, and it will still algorithmically determine topic relevance on those ads. Naturally, Twitter won’t say much about how it makes the sausage.

In an age of instant recommendations, a case for taste

Across all kinds of verticals, it’s never been easier to use apps and services to instantly find things that might match my interests. But what do we lose if we don’t put in the time to actually develop taste?

Today in Social

AllThingsD has some detail behind a Twitter update of its “discover” function it uses to recommend users to follow. It sounds like Twitter is looking at posts of interest to people a user follows. While that makes sense, as described it sounds more like a social graph rather than an interest graph. Haven’t we all been saying Twitter’s in the best position to map actual interests? Right now it’s recommending some tech, football and business stories for me, though none of them are particularly surprising. And its entertainment recommendations do touch on movies, but also TMZ celebrity news that I couldn’t care less about. Survey sample of one, of course. But I use lists that actually have topic headers, so you’d think Twitter could figure me out. Keep an eye out for some new research from us on content discovery, and be sure to come to paidContent 2012 in my neighborhood.

Potential Facebook-Instagram impact

Don’t be too quick to think that Facebook is abandoning its HTML5 mobile strategy in favor of apps. As a defensive move, acquiring Instagram would lock down Facebook’s strong position in photo-sharing, leaving little room for would-be competitors, but it gives Facebook few new weapons and no new revenue opportunities.

Say goodbye to search and hello to BrainSpace

PureDiscovery, a Dallas-based big data startup, thinks it has the has the answer to outdated enterprise search technology, and it’s called BrainSpace. Its goal is to let users find information that matters without having to search for it, to bring data to users.