The heart of tech is coming to the heart of the Mediterranean. Join TNW in Valencia this March 🇪🇸

This article was published on March 1, 2008 ‘Like this person? Check out these users too.’ ‘Like this person? Check out these users too.’
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
Story by

Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform. is a site that matches you with persons similar to you, in terms of interests and social connections. When they launched a few months ago, the service wasn’t particularly well-designed and hard to understand. That has now changed, since the team has launched a new and ‘more robust’ version. Moreover, they’ve added some new functionalities that help you to see the links between social networks AND claim to have developed the Beacon killer. I’ve talked to founder Jack Thorogood to hear the background story.

Thorogood believes that people want to find their Internet twin: “I’ve been convinced for over two years now that there would be real value in a service that really allows users to find the people most similar to themselves on the known Internet; to find their doppelganger. So we have been building an engine that can help any Internet user find the people in the world most similar to themselves. It sounds like an odd thing to do, but the social potential of it is vast, if slightly scary. At the moment, online and off line relationships normally occur as a result of chance. We want to make identifying a kindred spirit a straightforward matter rather than a case of finding a needle in the proverbial haystack.”

“Now that we’ve built the fundamentals of the engine that drives, we’ll be applying it to tackle a variety of scenarios where knowing a bit more relevant information about the people around you could be particularly interesting. Imagine knowing who in the gym shares almost identical interests as you, or which visitors to your blog are also your virtual twin. This is exciting for users, but also of huge value to advertisers. The benefit to advertisers isn’t about compiling more and more information about people; instead it’s about identifying who a brand’s existing customers are and then targeting, as prospective clients, those people who are most similar to these existing customers. Theoretically these should be the the low hanging fruit in terms of customer acquisition.”

So how should people use in the context of their social networks. Naturally, it has several aggregator functionalities, yet other services offer these as well – often better-looking. So what’s the advantage here?

“We hope people will use as a tool for social discovery on their social networks.”

Thorogood: “We hope people will use as a tool for social discovery on their social networks. On the one hand, this means seeing what the people most similar to you on your social graph are in to. You may never have met them before but using you can they’re doing on different social networks. Also, in April we’ll launch an OpenSocial application, initially on Bebo, which allows social discovery on a similar basis to an Amazon recommendation: It’ll literally be a ‘Like this person? Check out these user profile’s too.’ This might sound slightly unnerving, but is part of the way we envisage the Internet driving social interactions and discovery over the years to come.”

That officiously is something we haven’t seen before. I wonder how people will react to such a clean approach to friendship. Another interesting feature is the OpenInbox. “It cross checks every incoming email against known social network information relevant to that user. We see this as being a really valuable tool which allows the receiving user to find out more about their email connections. As social networks develop further, OpenInbox will become the ultimate spam filter; you will be able to set precise social parameters as to who you see email from”, Thorogood explains.

“t’s a prelude to the future of brand marketing”

I must admit, has some pretty interesting and original functions. Thorogood’s approach to social networks is remarkable and refreshing. So it doesn’t me surprise me that he also wants to take on Beacon. That’s the part where he gets really serious: “This is the big deal for us. The SocialAds model might be 12 months ahead of its time, but we are confident that it’s a prelude to the future of brand marketing; that of promotion through social recommendation. ”

“Every brand has its evangelists and over the next couple of years marketers are going to realise that these people are the real value of the brand. SocialAds gives these evangelists the means to recommend the brands they love not just to friends, but to those most similar to themselves, i.e. the low hanging fruit as far as the marketers are concerned; the people most likely to buy that product too. We think that while a few people will create their own ads to promote brands the real growth will come as the tool we give marketers to encourage their evangelists to take part in this social promotion is more widely adopted.”

“If I click on the image on the right, a campaign encouraging people to visit The Next Web conference site is added to my SocialAds account. In turn, this will then be promoted to people similar to me in the SocialAds zone on and on third party sites when we roll this out. These campaigns can be turbo charged if the supported brand is prepared to pay a ‘cost per click’. At all times the user knows exactly why they are seeing the ad.”

“With SocialAd zones currently residing only on this isn’t going to change the world, but when we offer this service to all online publishers of display advertising it’ll be a revolution. Imagine the effectiveness of advertising where every banner, button and video ad tells you why you’re seeing it, and this is linked to a social recommendation. This is the ambition for our SocialAds engine.”

I’m impressed by Thorogood’s creativity and I do think the new features could be successful if he makes the interface more accessible and better-looking. For example, when you land on the frontpage of the service, the number of functions is a bit overwhelming. Other from that, is worth checking out and a interesting services for anyone who frequently uses social networks.