Being connected is tiring, especially when it comes to filling out forms. Here's help.
For advertisers or service offerers, the online marketing game used to be all about being in the face of the consumer or prospect for their products or services. The current Internet, though, seems all about “social” relationships.
Social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn, are bringing us closer together with people we may not have known before. Twitter is making it easier for us to be in their consciousness more continuously, and we’re joining these and other social networks more often and in more quantity than ever before.
Being connected is tiring, though. I’m tired of filling out forms, and many of my customers tell me that they would prefer not to fill out forms either. Sometimes it can’t be helped, because the information needs to be collected in a way that is useful for the consumer and companies or groups with which he wants to associate — and the information needed isn't always the same in every network. So we’ll continue to fill out forms. Hopefully, we can fill most of them out online, because that makes it easier for the people collating the information than it is when we fill out paper forms (not to mention, less prone to errors).
I recently learned about an intriguing new technology from Gigya, a company based in Maryland that helps ease the burden of filling out registration forms — because it cross pollinates the forms that you’ve already filled out.
Let’s say that you’re already a member of Facebook, and that you have given Facebook a bunch of information about yourself. With a Gigya-empowered website that requires registration, your registration data can take certain information from that Facebook account. As a result, when it’s time to fill out your name and address, it can be prefilled. More importantly, when the other website wants to have you “like” a page with your Facebook account, it can be done without having to log back into Facebook.
Similarly, with the Gigya technology, a website operator can incorporate similar capabilities with your Twitter, LinkedIn or one of 19 other types of accounts. So, if you have a LinkedIn account instead of Facebook, it can use that data. Gigya does this by interfacing with the programming interfaces of these networks.
Liza Hausman, vice president of marketing at Gigya, gave me a guided tour of several of the 250 websites that use its technology. ABC.com uses it for social sign-on but does it in a half-baked manner. When I tried to register at the TV network’s website, it asked me to login, which immediately gave me the Facebook security warning (a good thing) that I was about to expose certain information to ABC.com. But the warning told me I would expose more information than ABC.com was actually using. ABC.com didn’t even pull the information from my Facebook account into my ABC.com registration form. It simply connected to make it possible for interaction between the accounts after registration.
GiantNerd.com (I love that name), on the other hand, not only used social sign-on, it also did some subsequent data sharing. Thus, I was able to see Facebook information on the GiantNerd website. It had a coolness factor, even if a bit eerie.
Website operators don’t need Gigya to do the connections. Most of the social services provide interfaces that programmers can use for free. But Gigya makes the job much easier and faster because the programmers can do the job once and be connected to a lot of services. At $20,000 and up, it’s probably not for mom-and-pops, but could be a good tool for medium and large companies.