Kimengi takes on Zemanta with its content recommendation engine

Kimengi is a new Dutch startup providing ”related-content” to bloggers and publishers via a recommendation widget called “f>>dforward” (feed forward). Once installed, the widget automatically provides related articles from multiple sites based on a combination of tag matches and  collaborative filtering techniques (“Users similar to you liked…”). If that sounds a lot like Zemanta which then you’d be right. Kimengi faces direct competition from the Slovenian startup, which provides an impressively slick Firefox plugin and API recommending not only related articles, but also photographs and video. Zemanta also works with email.

However, Kimengi has some traction already. Two big names in the Dutch publishing world, Het Parool (an Amsterdam-based newspaper and ILSE Media (the biggest dutch blogging network), are about to announce the use of f>>dforward in their publishing properties. The widget is already being trialled by about 40 high-traffic Dutch blogs with a particular focus on technology blogs.

Martijn Wuite from Het Parool says this kind of content recommendation allows the paper to provide links not only related to the subject of the current article, e.g. other sports articles, but also to the interests of the user based on the preferences of similar readers. Publishers can designate particular sites as part of their network, e.g. Ajax football club fan sites for Het Parool, and recommendations from those sites will get higher priority. The thinking is a world away from some of the current “non-linking” theories spreading around the newspaper world at the moment.

But what of Kimengi’s positioning against Zemanta? There are a couple of notable differences between the two services. Kimengi has some catching up to do with Zemanta’s pleasing design while Zemanta’s roster of content sources seems somewhat less configurable than Kimengi’s. Zemanta is English-only for now while Kimengi already caters for multiple languages starting with Dutch and English. Finally, Zemanta charges for more than 50,000 calls per day. Kimengi expects to add premium services allowing companies to not only track how their brand is being written about online but also who is consuming that content.

Ultimately, Kimengi has bigger ambitions than the widget alone. In his canal-view office in Amsterdam (nice wallpaper too) CEO Lucien Burm told me that the widget is just the first step towards the highly-scalable, personalised and real-time recommendation engine on which the company is working. The launch horizon for the engine is sometime in 2010. One to watch.