The “uncanny valley” is an aesthetic theory which holds that when viewers get uneasy when artificial creatures look and move almost like natural beings. In other words it “creeps them out”. The “valley” refers to the dip in a graph of comfort level, as artificial beings stop being obviously fake, but are not yet good enough to look properly human  -Wikipedia.

For example this is Toshiba’s Communication robot “Chihira Aico”. And cats get uneasy too.

The same thing can occur with personalization. For example who hasn’t been “stalked” by personalized adverts?

There are several basic solutions to the problem of creepy personalization:

1. Target more loosely and not like an unstoppable “Terminator”: randomize, cap frequency, and accept a less precise match.

2. Do some personalization based on crowd-sourced data (new/popular/trending products) rather then individual data, so it’s at one remove


3. Make personalization look like a technical feature, not targetting. For example “related items” suggestions at the bottom of each product page are innocuous, because people think they are only “related” to the product on the page.

4. Old-style clumsy mail-merging is still bad. “Hello Peter, here’s an offer for you and the Austin family” Be selective about mail-merging and keep it for when personalization is a positive – e.g. in order confirmations.


Source: Triggered Messaging; Posted March 25, 2015 by Pete Austin