US 8060504 Method and system for selecting content items to be presented to a viewer

ABSTRACT – A rules evaluation engine operable to select optimal content for presentation to the viewer at each presentation opportunity. The engine evaluates segmentation rules associated with each particular content item in parallel, and then selects the best content to be presented. Priorities determined during evaluation sort out which content items will be presented. Real time dynamic enrichment of the decision making context occurs by retrieving additional information required to evaluate the rules. Logging and administrative processes for managing the segmentation rules are also realized.


The invention relates to a system operable to select optimal content to be presented to a viewer, based upon both the characteristics of the viewer and the viewing situation.


Over the last decade, technology has drastically improved the effectiveness of technology-based marketing. CRM systems have brought businesses back to their ancestral roots by providing organizations with a collective memory of every customer and their interactions. Previously, this was cost-prohibitive.

However, providing the optimal message to a customer is still a very cumbersome and time-consuming process. As a result, corporations have not fully benefited from the promise of real-time customized and personalized marketing. Many customized content and personalization initiatives remain undeveloped because of their prohibitive human and financial costs of implementation.

With the traditional targeted marketing paradigm, the seller initiates an interaction with the customer by analyzing historical data to segment customers offline and then “pushes” a message out to the customer. The seller then hopes for a response. However, other more proactive methods are desired.


The present invention provides a system and method to select, from a predefined palette of content items, those items which are best suited for an individual. This selection is based both on the attributes of the viewer and the context in which the contents is viewed. (i.e., at that precise moment in time). The content may involve advertisements, articles, or multimedia, such as animated images, movies, or audio clips.

More specifically, the present invention provides a centralized system that defines and manages business rules to identify what content is most relevant to the individual viewer’s context. Then upon receipt of the content selection request, a centralized system evaluates the viewer’s characteristics, the situational characteristics (context), and the viewer’s personal history against the coded rules in order to select an optimal content set for display. Then the selected content is returned to a local system that serves the selected content to the viewer. Essentially, a number of diverse content items can be managed by the system, wherein each content item may have one or more coded rules which define the viewer and content in which content would be presented to the viewer.

In effect, each item of content has a rule which describes a “profile” of what an ideal viewer or presentation opportunity. When the content selection request is made, the coded rules associated with each relevant item are evaluated to determine if an appropriate viewing opportunity exists. If the rule is satisfied, the system then adds the content item, within a prioritized queue, to an aggregated body of content items for this presentation opportunity. The items are then sorted, by descending priority, with the most significant items being returned for presentation. The prioritized list is returned based on the results of evaluating the individual content items against various business rules. This produces a prioritized list of items most suitable for presentation to the viewer in the viewer’s current viewing context.

Several advantages are provided. First, the ability to perform the evaluation process in real time, at the moment of the request is a significant advantage over existing systems. This allows the content selected to be sensitive to the current presentation opportunity rather than the data warehouse intensive traditional model which selects content days, and even weeks, beforehand. The present invention may also couple to enterprise data sources, customer care systems, and external data sources such as credit scoring bureaus, etc. to provide a very rich palette of information on which to base the content selection rules.

A detailed log of each request made, along with any/all content items selected for presentation, provides for auditability and effectiveness metrics, as well as inputs for a “feedback loop” in which future presentation opportunities can be made based on prior decisions. For example, a rule could be constructed such that an individual item of content would be highly prioritized under default conditions, but would be deprioritized in favor of other content items after the original item had been presented to a viewer. One implementation may reduce an item’s priority after the item has been viewed three times in a 24-hour period.

An advantage of the present invention is that the rules defining the optimal presentation opportunity do not need to be maintained in executable code by the administrator or user. The rules are captured in a representative notational format via a rule-builder GUI application, and then stored in an XML encoded structure within repository. As they are not a part of the presentation engine (such as a web server), they can be changed at will without the need to update or test the web server or HTML source for the web pages the content is to be presented in. The items of content are managed in a hierarchical model, with each item inheriting characteristics from its parent to determine who may manipulate or change the rules which determine the rule’s behavior unless a specific rule is established for the individual item. Ultimately, this allows the rules to be administered in a distributed fashion throughout an enterprise, or even to clients (usually advertisers) and business partners if the situation warrants such.

The invention can be invoked via a number of methods, including a J2EE compliant API library, a procedural interface suitable for linking into legacy applications written in C, COBOL, FORTRAN, etc., a Web Services interface, a C+ interface, or even a custom-developed API for an individual customer’s needs.

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