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Video Sites Developing Better Recommendations

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Online video sites want to get to know you better.

The Sony-owned Web video destination Crackle is developing tools to offer personalized video recommendations to site visitors based on their past viewing history. NBC-Fox venture Hulu introduced a similar feature earlier this month.

They join video sites like Veoh and TheWB.com that offer varying degrees of viewing suggestions for visitors.

Tailored tips have worked well for Amazon and Netflix. On a video site, recommendations can pay off by keeping viewers glued to the screen longer, exposing them to more advertising and deepening loyalty. If Crackle or Hulu can mimic a good waiter, offering up the TV shows, movies and clips you like, you're more apt to come back.

Offering the right recommendations is a challenge for video sites, however, because a Web site needs lots of data on user likes and dislikes to serve up quality suggestions. Amazon and Netflix work well because their sites attract large audiences. But cracking the recommendation code is more critical than ever for Web video sites as online viewing continues to swell. Internet users in the United States watched 13.5 billion videos online in October, a 45% jump from a year ago, according to comScore.

"Given all the choices, people are increasingly looking for guidance to find content and experiences that appeal to them," said Eric Berger, senior VP of digital networks at Sony Pictures Television, which owns Crackle. "We're building out the capability to recommend content to viewers based on what they are watching."

A recommendation engine acts like a guide and can help users find videos that aren't on the front page or featured section of a site. That's helpful to Hulu, which now offers more than 30,000 videos from more than 130 programmers.
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