Amazon.com is decided to become the biggest public web datawarehouse. Purchase circles, beyond the anecdotical glimpse into specific companies, are consolidated into industries (e.g. advertising), so you can know what people in the advertising or insurance businesses read.
04/11/01 update: they don’t publish their criteria (probably so that people don’t try to cheat their way into the system), but here what they say as of today when I try the Germany circle: "The latest update for this Purchase Circle did not meet the criteria needed to generate a unique bestseller list. Please check back next week." Maybe there’s a minimum volume, and all Germans purchase through Amazon.de?
I got some ideas so here’s the e-mail I just sent Amazon:
"I find Purchase Circles fun and was wondering whether you plan to regroup your data in other ways that might reveal patterns. Here are some ideas:
- Find preferred products that are shared between several countries, and see whether some regional or cross-national regrouping can be applied (Scandinavia? Mediterranean countries? US West Coast? Anglo-saxon world?). Likewise, show products that are hits everywhere, regardless of geography (Harry Potter?).
- Show how products spread from country to country, ie. how long does it take for a UK hit to sell in Germany? You have a great database to measure who’s exporting what to whom, and how long does it take. I’m French and here some bands such as INXS continued to be popular when they were forgotten elsewhere. It would also be instructing to see what is popular in a country and doesn’t export (US country music?).
- Apply your popularity data on maps would help show these patterns."
I’ll let you know if I ever get a reply. (Update: I never got one.)