With Christmas less than three months away, I’m already starting to think of gift ideas for my family and friends. But as many of you can agree, this isn’t an easy task. So when I read about a new “gift prediction engine” on Mashable, I decided to take it for a spin.
GiveEmThis is a free web app that produces personalized gift suggestions based on the data it pulls from your social network of friends. To get started, login to GiveEmThis with your Facebook credentials and then choose a recipient from your Facebook friends. Within a few seconds, you’ll see a list of gift recommendations based on that friend’s activities (e.g., status updates) on Facebook. You have the option to buy any of the gifts directly from GiveEmThis.
Note: it seems that the number of gift suggestions is correlated to the recipient’s level of activity on Facebook. So an active Facebook user will produce more results as opposed to a less active user. The one puzzling exception is my friend, Danielle, who — despite being an active Facebook user — only got fifteen gift suggestions from GiveEmThis.
If your gift recipient is not on Facebook, the gift engine can supposedly pull other publicly available data from the web. However, I was not able to locate this function, perhaps because GiveEmThis is still in beta. For my test run, I chose myself and two good friends as gift recipients. We then evaluated the quality of gift suggestions. Here are the results:
- Andy: 97 gift suggestions
- Andy said that only 6% of the suggested items were “moderately” interesting/relevant: MLS Franklin Sports Insta-Set, American Psycho, Save Hands: My Autobiography, Nike + iPod Sport Kit, In Where it Hurts: Bryan Gunn, Alfred Hitchcock movies. However, Andy noted “none of these items are right on the money” and therefore not gifts he would enjoy receiving.
- Items that Andy found particular silly and irrelevant: weightlifting equipment (Bicep Bomber) and any baseball gear (Pro Level Quality Wood, Akadema AEA Fast Pitch Series, Franklin Sports MLB Pitching). Said Andy, “I prefer working out at the gym and I hate baseball.”
- Andy noted that he already owns several of the suggested gift recommendations.
- Danielle: 15 gift suggestions
- Danielle found 40% of the suggested items to be relevant to her. Specifically, she thought the following gifts were appealing: Yoga Ball, Balance Ball, Youtube and Video Marketing, Master Cook, Monte Irvin Book, Monte Irvin baseball card.
- Items that Danielle found irrelevant/uninteresting: New York Yankees paraphernalia (she is peripherally interested only because her father is a fan) and a book on the world’s religions.
- Danielle noted that several suggested items weren’t horrible ideas, but she wouldn’t be all that excited to receive them.
- Baochi: 142 gift suggestions
- I found 67% percent of the suggested items were relevant to me. But I wish to receive 0% of the gifts recommended. Most relevant and interesting suggestions: several books, a MediaBridge Port Smart HDMI Switch, and an Atlas of Middle-Earth.
- Most irrelevant and random suggestions: Ballet barre bracket, donkey-themed jewelry (while jewelry is always a delight to receive, I’m not sure why GiveEmThis thinks I have a particular fondness for donkeys….did I somehow make an ass of myself on Facebook?) and picnic table kit.
- I already own most of the suggested book gifts.
Kudos to GiveEmThis for getting right the relevancy of gifts. However, a relevant gift isn’t necessarily a desirable gift. Either the item is already owned by the recipient or it’s in a “format” that is relevant but not attractive. For example, Lord of the Rings was a strong gift theme for me, but I don’t wish to own a DVD set of the movies.
The gift engine is still in beta, so hopefully the recommendations will improve and be more meaningful. For now, I think GiveEmThis is a good tool for these two scenarios:
- Gifts for acquaintances and colleagues you don’t personally know that well. Even if you give them a gift they already own, you’ll score points for relevancy.
- Gift themes for family and friends. The engine will jog your memory of a loved one’s interests, e.g., Andy likes sports, Danielle likes fitness tools, and Baochi loves books. But rather than follow a specific gift recommendation for that person, e.g., Lord of the Rings books and DVDs for Baochi, you could brainstorm other more unique ideas based on the person’s interest themes, e.g., Baochi loves Lord of the Rings and jewelry, so perhaps a gold Gandalf necklace charm would be a good idea.