Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Subscribe to a 'Consumer Tag' Amazon launches RSS Tag channels

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Last year Amazon.com without much fanfare that i recall rolled out tagging features. Each Amazon product can be tagged by users and a set of tags is then shown on the product pages so users can see the words that fellow consumers have used to describe that specific item. Honestly i am not a big Amazon shopper and i noticed but really didn't 'notice'. I also do not know how many items have been tagged by how many users but just cruising around tonight i found most things with tags although i couldn't find the RSS subscription icons.

I have written about social tagging quite a few times and i am interested in the use within both consumer online applications like Amazon and within the Enterprise (plus one affects the other more and more as these tools are introduced into the marketplace). Back in January on Read/WriteWeb Alex Iskold wrote about the competitve advantage that Amazon could have if they leverage the power of the 'consumer tag' along with some of highlights of Web 2.0 functionality that Amazon is presenting to its users. In his post Iskold writes:

Amazon's infrastructure analyses and categorizes huge volumes of text on a daily basis. The output of these algorithms is a list of key phrases that uniquely identify any item (e.g. a book). In my recent post about recommendation engines, I suggested that these key phrases can be substituted by people's tags. It looks like Amazon will soon be in position to do just that. What this means is that Amazon is going to be able to do item-based recommendations for all its products, without having to analyze music, movies and houseware in the same way. This will be another big win for Amazon and a big competitive edge, since no other retailers have this.

With the launch of the Amazon's RSS Tag Feeds Amazon presents its users with new ways of consuming recommendation and crowd 'wisdom'.

From the Amazon help files here are some ways they are recommending for uses of tag RSS feeds:

  • Subscribe to feeds such as quilting or murder mystery, to learn of new products related to your interests, hobbies, or favorite authors as soon as other customers suggest them

>>> cool so per my picture, if i wanted to see what product people tagged 'bob dylan' i will eventually be able to just subscribe through my RSS reader (not all tags are enabled currently). Sure i can subscribe to similar feeds through other social tagging systems- but none are very targeted to products that are for sale

  • Embed a widget on your own website to automatically show the most popular products for a tag, such as wii games, and earn referral credit through the Associates program

>>> cool so i can embedd a crap widget on my site and make a crapload of money ;-)

  • Create a special tag for your book or movie club and provide a feed of recommendations to your members

>>> ok this is getting more interesting and can be extended across many uses. For example conference speakers can use a specific tag to tag books for a specific conference. teachers can tag recommended books for class reading, etc.

  • Export all your products and tags into another application or create your own web 2.0 mashup

>>>>Yes the beauty of RSS makes it easy to consume within other applications and with the growth of mashup tools you can probably make some interesting tools to monitor products both from the consumer and the vendor perspective. If you are monitoring your products for example you can create views for each product, displaying the words people are tagging it with, you can setup alert words (like 'crap' for example), see what competitive products people are also tagging with the same words, and you can even use it to discover new market opportunities.

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