In the late ’90s, the site hotornot.com was very popular. It was a strangely addictive way to rate photos of people on a scale of one to terms of how “hot” you thought they were. I went out to the site this morning to see if the site is still alive, and while I was a little surprised to see it alive, when I saw they have turned it into more of a dating web site, that made sense.
But for anyone who ever spent any time on that site, once you start rating pictures, it’s hard to stop and as such it’s a great way to collect a lot of feedback. Though by itself, that data isn’t useful to much of anyone because you don’t know who is providing the input. Because of that, if a 44 year-old man like myself were to post a picture, I would have no way of knowing whether the ratings were from 22 year-old women or 44 year-old women or 88 year-old women, so irrespective of the feedback, I wouldn’t really know any more than I knew before.
However, if the age, gender, and zip code of the person were known, that would be a different story, and as I have blogged before, that’s exactly what alice.com does on their retail web site and gives that data back to advertisers who put ads and coupons on their site. While I think Alice is going to be a huge success, their site remains a retail experience for the end user.
A new company launched last week that in many ways combines the addictive element of hotornot, and the business data feedback element of Alice. It’s called Swayable and as their tag line suggests, they want to know what you think. But instead of just one product and a one to ten scale of “hotness” that you get to choose, it’s an either/or vote. You have to pick “A” or “B” and that can be the Knook reader vs. the Kindle or the iPhone 4 vs. the Android, or any number of other things. After you choose, it tells you the summary of how others have voted in percentages. Like hotornot it moves very fast and it’s fun. It’s still in beta so right now some of the swayables are a little nutty/silly, like in one case it was the same picture on both sides of the sway, in another it asked you to choose between an apple and a pear, but as those kinks get ironed out, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see swayable really take off. For one thing, all of the content creation is in the hands of the users, which is a huge thing to be able to “outsource” to your user/customer base. But anyone can be a customer, so I suspect all sorts of companies will create swayables for their various products and services so they can get real time feedback (votes and comments) from the people voting. Since Swayable knows your age, gender, and zip code, they can share that with the creators of the swayable. It’s a brilliant way to collect feedback. my guess is that usage will sway toward younger generations, but that’s fine. The bottom line is that Swayable represents some great rethinking in the area of market research.
On top of all of that, if you look at the bios of the management team of Swayable, it’s not just a bunch of teenagers in a garage. My vote goes to Swayable.