Online Content Providers Give In to Gravity’s Personalized Pull

Startup gets big partnerships but not without critics

There’s no shortage of startups betting on personalized news—and at least one of them, Gravity, has major news organizations joining the wager.

Founded by a group of former MySpace executives, Gravity first launched a year ago. At the time, CEO Amit Kapur said the startup’s initial products—including a site that helped identify interests based on Twitter accounts—were just meant to show off its technology. Now, Gravity is focused on Kapur’s real goal: partnering with publishers to personalize their content for consumers.

The company’s first big integration, in October, was with The Wall Street Journal, and it recently signed deals with Time and document-sharing website Scribd. Now, by Kapur’s estimation, some 40 percent of the WSJ’s front page is personalized. If someone reads a lot of articles about the iPhone, for instance, a dedicated section for iPhone news appears beneath the fold. Kapur says Gravity personalization results, on average, has seen a 200 percent increase in clicks.

This approach has critics. In The Filter Bubble, Eli Pariser argues that personalized Web content leads to the narrowing of perspectives. And Kapur himself points to the need to mix tailored interests with what a content provider feels “you should be interested in.” 

Recommended articles