Piczo Zone: Better User Profiling Through Viral UGC

Social network Piczo has released a new feature into private beta: Piczo Zone. It’s being tested by a small group of users now and will be released generally in a few weeks.

What is it? Product Evangelist Keith Crowell says its a way for users to decorate their profile pages in much the same way as teenagers decorate their rooms – with posters, music, etc. Users take (or create) images, videos, style sheets or just about anything else and then add it to their profile. Each content item also includes descriptive data and tags. When someone creates something (say an image showing a band or artist name), any other user can add it to their profile as well. All of the “stuff” created in the Piczo Zone will then spread virally as the more popular items gets added by more and more users.

Users like this stuff – they can see what the popular kids (however defined) put on their profiles and then add the same things to their own. For now users can’t add stuff that they see directly from their friends’ profiles, but software engineer Devon Boyle says they’ll add that functionality shortly.

Users Love This Stuff. But So Do Advertisers

But there’s another reason this is important: user profiling for advertising. As users add artists/bands, popular movies and well known brands (nike, whatever) to their profiles they build an extremely detailed demographic and psychographic profile of themselves that can be used for far more targeted advertising. As an example, a music label could focus advertising around a new album release to users who’s added certain similar bands and artists to their profile. It’s highly likely that the advertising will be aimed at people who are likely to buy, and ad rates increase dramatically.

The content can also be used to predict new trends far before traditional methods. Users will create their own images for a popular local indie band, for example. As more and more users add the image, someone with access to aggregate data will be able to see what’s going to become mainstream well before it actually does. Since Piczo’s users, mostly teenagers, are the trendsetters, it’s a particularly powerful tool.

Piczo isn’t the first social network to experiment with something like this. In July we wrote about a similar product called HotLists released by HotOrNot. HotLists are made up only of images, but like Piczo users create them themselves and they spread virally as users add them from the profiles of people they view. Users immediately took to the idea, adding brands, movies, artists and other things that they identified with to build out their profile. And HotNorNot now has much deeper user information to aim advertisement at. Everyone wins.