Kaboodle Improves Sharing Tools

Kaboodle, a “social sharing” site that allows users to collect and organize links to favorite Web sites, pictures of their own collections, and other information, has upgraded its service to make it easier for users — and ultimately marketers — to share that information with others.

New views, integrated Shopping.com listings, enhanced group creation and back-end improvements mark the largest upgrade to the service since it launched in February, according to Manish Chandra, founder and CEO of Kaboodle.

Users add information to their collection by visiting any Web page and clicking on the “Add to Kaboodle” link in their favorites. Kaboodle’s “extraction engine” collects data from the page, and condenses it into an entry in the user’s Kaboodle page. Users can edit the collected data, add tags, and assign it to a category. They can also upload photos themselves, and add relevant data to create an entry.

The user’s collections can be saved as a Flash object, so they can be added to a blog or other Web site with a single line of code.

The Kaboodle service is used mostly for two purposes: shopping-related research and travel planning. Today, Kaboodle added a link to Shopping.com price comparison and review information, which automatically appears on products that have been assigned to the “shopping” category. For travel users, a new itinerary-style view that organizes items by date and time will improve that experience as well, Chandra said.

The company added several other views today as well, including a slideshow and a free-form “collage view” that will be especially useful to marketers looking to create a catalog page of sorts, according to Chandra.

“Marketers that can add value to the community, such as a niche clothing retailer with an interesting collection, will be more noticed than those doing pure merchandising,” he said. “We don’t prevent anyone from selling their own products, as long as they are clear about their agenda. If someone is masquerading as something they’re not, that creates a negative experience for users, and they’ll be flagged or banned.”

Kaboodle plans to enhance its marketing tools and services in coming months, Chandra said. It’s currently reaching out to agencies and large brand advertisers to discuss ways to use the Kaboodle service in a smart way, he said. For now, advertising on the site consists of Google text ads and contextual eBay listings, in some areas. Kaboodle is also exploring options for selling its own ads on the site, or partnering with an ad network.

The company today also added enhanced group-building tools, where a user can create a vertical group that can share a forum, rank and rate each other’s collections, or collaborate on a wiki-style shared page to which all group members can contribute. The group’s owner and designated moderators will have control over membership in each group, with the ability to remove troublesome members.

Back-end changes include a “mass learning engine” that can adjust its collection techniques based on users’ own changes. For instance, if information from a page is not rendered well by Kaboodle’s extraction engine, and a user adjusts the data to make more sense, the next Kaboodle member to save that page will benefit from the first member’s changes. The engine can learn from just one user, but will also weigh changes by multiple users more heavily, to outweigh any attempts to tamper with the system or suffer from one user’s changes.

Besides shopping and travel, the Kaboodle service is often used for health and parenting research. A growing number of users are using it for wedding planning, which is not surprising given the large amount of information involved and the collaborative aspect of the planning process, Chandra said.

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