TCD startup offers personalised online visitor experience
05 June 2014
Author: Mary Anne Carrigan, editor, EngineersJournal.ie
wripl is a Dublin-based content engagement solution. It is a personalised recommendation platform that learns what each of your readers are interested in and serves them highly targeted recommendations. It also assists websites to engage their users more by developing sophisticated, user-specific engagement strategies.
“The main focus is to ensure that the user stays longer on a website and comes back more often. We achieve this by providing a one-to-one personal experience for each user on our customers’ websites,” explained Dr Kevin Koidl, research fellow in the Knowledge and Data Engineering Group (KDEG) of the School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin.
wripl is currently in the process of spinning out of Trinity College Dublin after the researchers involved completed the commercialisation fund for third-level researchers by Enterprise Ireland. This fund was used for technical and financial feasibility, which was completed successfully. wripl is now in the market-entry phase, which is focused on growing the customer base.
The idea is based on PhD and MSc research conducted in the Centre of Next Generation Localisation (CNGL) in Trinity College Dublin. The main promoters of wripl are Dr Kevin Koidl and Brian Gallagher MSc BSc, KDEG research assistant. TCD-based academic advisers are Prof Vincent Wade and Prof Owen Conlan.
wripl is developed as an application programming interface-based service that interfaces with different applications to provide user-engagement solutions. The technology stack is designed towards scalable web usage by using state-of-the-art web frameworks.
According to Koidl, the service offers a solution that focuses fully on increasing engagement on a user-to-user base and in real time. “For this to take place, wripl calculates fresh content recommendations after each page refresh for each user separately,” he explained. “This is something that we haven’t seen competitors doing, as it’s quite complicated algorithmically and it also requires substantial server resources.”
wripl learns about your interests and uses this information to personalise the sites you love. Koidl said that it offers a connected experience – you create a profile that you can use across all your devices. “This allows your browsing from one device to spill over onto others,” he explained.
wripl had to pivot many times to get to the current phase. The initial research was based on networked personalisation that allowed users to follow their interests around the web. Users would be in control of their own data, and publishers would only receive information on the current interest of the users – and not about their overall interests. “It doesn’t share your interests with websites; we simply tell them what you might be interested in. wripl’s interest management app allows you full control over your interests – you can add, edit and delete as you like.”
This approach did not gain traction from both the users and the publishers, however.
“We had to conclude from this that users are ready to sacrifice privacy in favour of less effort – the initial version required the user to register and sign in,” said Koidl. “The publishers, on the other hand, were not prepared to send users away from their website. These problems were overcome by pivoting fully into a cookie-based proposition. This allows wripl to create more engagement without the user needing to participate actively.”
After some tweaking, wripl now offers a two-phased approach. The first phase is based on analysing the customer’s individual growth strategy to understand how wripl can help best. After concluding that wripl can help, in phase two, a time-based trial period is arranged. For this trial period, the technology is deployed on the customer’s website. This allows for the measurement and visualisation of current user engagement on the website.
“It also includes the deployment of different engagement strategies that are tested against each other,” added Koidl. “After the initial trial period, the customer receives a deeper understanding of what engagement strategies assist the overall growth strategy of the website.”
The immediate plans, he said, are to work with more customers to learn and to assist. “We believe the web has created a shift from the content producer towards the user. Publishers and retailers have become much more aware of the fact that the competition is only one click away and mistakes are very expensive,” he said.
“At the same time, most customers don’t fully understand how to measure content performance and user engagement – and how to leverage these insights to grow their business. There’s so much space for improvement and, with that, there’s huge opportunity for companies in this space.”
To date, wripl has well over 150,000 clicked recommendations and is growing fast. In the mid- to longer-term, the goals for wripl are continuing to secure investment and further increase the number of overseas customers.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2014/06/05/tcd-startup-offers-personalised-online-visitor-experience/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/wripl-1024x668.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/wripl-300x300.jpgTechinternet,startups,Trinity College Dublin