Making meaningful recommendations

The launch of Bibblio Labs

On 27 January 2015, Snapchat Inc launched Discover. It was pitched as the result of “collaboration with world-class media leaders to build a storytelling format that would put the narrative first”. As Team SnapChat describes in their 2015 press release, Discover was definitely not like social media:

“Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important.”

The Discover feature was a new way to explore stories from different editorial teams. You could tap to open an edition (by clicking on a brands’ logo), swipe left to browse Snaps, and swipe up on a Snap for the full story. They concluded the release by stating that “Each channel brings you something unique — a wonderful daily surprise!”.

Snap Inc’s not-so-unique Discovery offering from 22 March 2017, as captured by Digiday UK.

A lot has changed since then. Two years later, Snapchat Inc is now the listed Snap Inc with their Discover offering ditching the brand logos screen and currently looking like the panel above.

Launched as an antidote to social platforms like Facebook, Discover has devolved into a viral sameness as the publishers on their platform chase clicks. Snapchat wanted to recommend content not based on clicks and shares, but quickly ended up facilitating clickbait instead.

Holding your course

The initial premise of Discover was great. Now, there is so much monotony in the content that it’s difficult to remember which publisher it came from. And as Digiday concludes after interviewing several Discover partners, “this is where media brands get into trouble on platforms, which all optimize to get more clicks, more time spent and more interaction.”

It’s one thing to go for clicks, shares and more time spent. Building a quality, sustainable media business — that’s something else.

In Digiday’s story, one ad buyer said that “the glut of lowest-common denominator content is an issue that Snap and its Discover media partners will have to deal with.” We believe that it’s something we all have to deal with.

As Bibblio has mentioned in the story Clicks vs Satisfaction, in order to create actual, wonderful daily surprises, we need to work together on shifting the current recommendation paradigm to something more meaningful.

We need to create enjoyable and rewarding media experiences, helping users to learn and discover more about themselves, and the world, in the process.

That’s why we are launching Bibblio Labs.

This is our way of not only setting out with the best intentions, but staying true to them. When values such as transparency and aspiration are at the core of our recommendations, as a business we must live by those values as well.

We at Bibblio Labs are determined to support publishers and other platforms that are bold — not falling into the ‘clickbait trap’ or ‘biggest audience’ delusion, but making a difference to truly engage with their own audience.

Here’s how we plan to do it.

Bibblio Labs will:

  • keep you regularly updated on the developments of our recommendation platform
  • feed back what our Bibblio partners and their end-users discover
  • share stories from publishers, learning platforms or other businesses designing for true human satisfaction rather than clicks. Do you want to get your story out? Feel free to contact Bibblio Labs:
  • co-organize a meetup for all recommender, AI/ML fanatics and people who care about meaningful recommendations. We kick off in London soon, so why don’t you join us?

Bibblio Labs is an initiative by Bibblio, the content recommendation platform, helping content businesses and publishers deliver more relevant and engaging discovery experiences to their users. Visit us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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