Google isn’t generally known for willingly giving up market share. So, it’s unsurprising that, seeing the modest inroads that Pinterest is making into the search business, Google has rolled out a content curation application called Keen.
Integrated marketers will want to take note of this latest experimental app by Google’s Area 120 incubator and Google Research’s PAIR (People and AI Research). Keen combines user data and human-centered machine learning systems to “curate, collaborate, and expand your interests.” Introduced in mid-June, Keen allows users to learn more about their topics of interest, pulling together relevant articles, videos, and stories.
While users curate their content as they search and add links to their Keens, this data serves as the foundation or “seeds” from which information will grow Each Keen expands as other users weigh in on your Keens, and the robust Google search index suggests additional links and ideas for further learning.
Keen’s creator, CJ Adams, explains that the intent of the app is not for users to spend endless amounts of time mindlessly scrolling but to use Keen to learn more about a topic and get out and share it. The stated (and lofty) goal of Keen is to be “a home for your interests: a place to grow them, share them with loved ones and find things that will help in making this precious life count.”
So, how does Keen work? As stated above, it works on three levels: curation, collaboration, and expansion of your interests.
Users sign in with their Google accounts and make a Keen about any topic that they find of interest, personally or professionally (integrated marketers: this would be a great place to find out more about trending digital marketing, social, mobile, or other business topics!). When you create a new Keen, you receive a prompt to provide search cues that it can use to bring you content. Add a title, and save any related web searches, texts, and images that you have found.
Keen defaults to private, so you can select if you want to make it public, allowing the community of users to suggest content for you to add to your Keen.
Once you create a Keen, Google auto-populates it using its search index and machine learning to suggest relevant and related content. The more you add to each of your Keens and organize them, the better Google’s recommendations for you become, allowing you to discover more pertinent content over time. Public Keens are shared with the community, indicating that you welcome their suggestions and recommendations for content that is relevant to your Keen.
One of the perks of being part of the community is you can also follow the Keens created by others, discovering topics you may not have considered on your own or enhancing those topics you are interested in cultivating. You know, like Pinterest.
You can also sign up for email alerts to receive notifications when new content is available to add to your Keens. Keen is only pulling content based on the interests you input into your Keen—not your existing search history. It also isn’t restricted to recent news items, but will send you links to many types of helpful information for your topics.
The Values of Keen
Today’s Keen, available as an Android app in the Google Play store and online at staykeen.com, is still a small experimental project within Google, exploring the possibilities of personalization and AI. By connecting Keen users with relevant content, engagement, session length, and customer retention increase.
The Future of Keen
Whether Keen becomes more integrated into Google’s offerings and receives a significant marketing push remains to be seen. For now, it is an easy-to-use tool for integrated marketers and others who want to grow and share their interests. It’s also a warning shot across the bow to Pinterest to stay in their lane and check their growth into the search arena.