Nova Spivack’s recent GigaOM post, “Trailmeme and the Web of Intent,” highlights the growing content clutter problem on the web, but frames the solution set too narrowly and too far into the future. In fact, more robust content filtering tools and the Web of Intent will arrive sooner than you think, based on the implicit messages in users’ actions.


Solutions like Trailmeme that help consumers more easily save, tag, annotate, inter-link and share related content as a way to better filter the web sound promising, but we shouldn’t put all the pressure on crowd-sourcing solutions that require consumers to clean up the entire stream.


The Web of Intent will be largely driven by consumers’ actions and interests.  It will be based on implicit actions consumers take around what is most important to them. There’s an emerging opportunity for content publishers (and the publishing technologies they rely upon) to dramatically improve how they filter the stream for the consumers they serve. Once they do, consumers will embrace these improved, personalized content offerings and will in turn provide valuable feedback and insight through the actions they take with the content offered. Here are a few publishing trends that will accelerate the Web of Intent:

  1. Search and publishing tools will become more integrated, offering new forms of publishing flexibility that marry a publisher’s originally authored content assets with the best related content from the aggregated and real-time web.
  2. Search and publishing integration will help editors more easily monitor the web and curate new content packages across different content types, including articles, blog posts, tweets, photos and video.
  3. Publishers will start to produce curated, topical or thematic content “feeds” for their target audiences. For example, consumers will be able to subscribe to curated sports feeds for the latest news about their favorite teams or athletes or gadget feeds covering digital cameras or iPad news.
  4. Publishers will also offer more engaging (and valued) user experiences for consumers who “opt-in” to these personalized, filtered feeds providing convenient updates wherever consumers go. Think a better version of Google Alerts — curated by skilled editors from your favorite publisher and available anywhere (Facebook, Twitter, MyYahoo, iPad, iPhone etc.).
  5. Consumers will be able to customize these feeds across topics or stories, prioritize sources, receive recommendations and discover new content via their friends and social graph. New forms of social sharing (community) will emerge organized around consumer’s interests and the curated feeds they subscribe to.
  6. A few years ago when I was at Edmunds.com, we implemented an early form of the Web of Intent. For example, if a consumer was interested in a Sedan or BMW 3 Series they would click a link to get more information. As the publisher, we started to understand their intent through their implicit actions and fashioned a dynamic content and monetization experience designed to satisfy their specific interest. To support this, we had to significantly re-architect the way we thought about the design of the site and our entire content and advertising operations to organize around the consumer’s interests. We built everything ourselves, and that investment paid off as the site became the top auto research destination on the web and we significantly increased our revenue per user. As we look ahead, next-generation content publishing tools will make this transition much easier for publishers. They will be able to quickly transform their content operations beyond articles and blog posts into data and interest-centric publishing structures that allow consumers to follow topics and ongoing stories of interest. As consumers follow their favorite topics or stories, publishers will be able to build a Web of Intent rich in data and profiling based on their audiences’ interests. These interests will offer newer and more robust targeting opportunities and will ultimately provide publishers new opportunities for monetization beyond pure advertising. The good news for consumers is a number of large publishers are already actively working on these problems and are in the process of redesigning or re-launching their websites to make their sites more “intent-friendly”. Additionally, innovative tech companies are emerging such as Magnify.net in video curation or my6sense which help create personalized content streams. The Web of Intent will be here sooner than you think. 

    Matthew Kumin is the former EVP, Media for Edmunds.com and co-founder and CEO of PublishThis, a next-gen content publishing platform.