Category: The Science of Marketing

Musings on interdisciplinary scientific research, trends and findings that affect (and, in some cases, effect) the way we market goods, services and opportunities.

03 Dec 2010

Spread the love!

In association with specialist communications agency SPAFAX, The Screen Forum is proud to announce the launch of its LOVE CONTENT digital out-of-home creative media showcase.  The digital signage industry may well be built on technology – but it is 100% dependent on great content to succeed. With almost no limit to what can be done with screens and technology – The Screen is turning its focus to the creatives for the next stage of the industry’s development.
Already brands and advertisers are commissioning innovative and fantastically engaging digital campaign content – all serving to drive up media values and increase investment in digital infrastructure and technology.  The Screen has created the LOVE CONTENT Gallery online ( to showcase, promote and celebrate this growing body of amazing work.


27 Nov 2010

Anything (yes, anything) can be interactive.

A team at Nokia in Finland has created a computer touchscreen display out of ice.

Insert joke here.

Paul Marks writes that Jyri Huopaniemi at Nokia’s research lab in Tampere, whose team built the touchscreen, dubbed Ubice, or ubiquitous ice, admits that it is not a practical device, but is seen as a step towards an era in which surfaces around us gain computing capabilities, generally referred to as ubiquitous computing.  Ubiquitous computing, also known as pervasive computing is mode of interactive in which computers become embedded in surroundings, allowing people to interact with many types of computer-generated media without using a formal computer.  “This was a playful experiment, but one that we think showed interactive computing interfaces can now be built anywhere,” said Huopaniemi.


23 Nov 2010

Is price information power?

Amazon has launched an app for iPhone that lets users either scan the barcode of a product in a store or take its picture in order to ompare the price with that offered online by Amazon and other online merchants.  It gets even better – the app also lets a person type or say the product name to complete an online purchase using their account.

It’s not the app itself that is unique – those type of apps have been around for awhile – it’s that Amazon launched one.  The timing of their launch is a shot across the bow of brick and mortar stores.  IDC Retail Insights, a technology-focused consultancy, says a survey of 1,000 consumers carried out in September suggested that more than a third will use mobile devices as they shop this holiday season, including using them to compare prices both online and at nearby stores, and to check product availability.  In the US, 28 percent of mobile phone subscribers now own smartphones, according to figures from Nielsen, the market research company.

OK – so what?


18 Nov 2010

Pulling the plug on cable TV

The future of TV?
The future of TV?

According to Matthew Garrahan of Financial Times, the number of people subscribing to US cable television services has suffered its biggest decline in 30 years as younger, tech-savvy viewers lead an exodus to web-based operations, such as Hulu and Netflix.

I’m not sure the implications of this are staggering, because (a) we saw it coming, and (b) the diversification of advertising to different mediums is already underway.  Let’s start with the first point – the music industry was the guinea pig that suffered the digital experiment first.  When online music hit, it fundamentally changed the music industry.  Gone were albums – gone were mega labels that could do no wrong – and gone was the power of Billboard charts to drive ancillary parts of the industry (like radio).  My personal opinion is that it was the mp3 player – not online music – that changed everything.  When the player itself became small and cool looking (and easy to operate), then people really embraced online music.  Sure, the tech savvy people had already made the switch – but not my Mom and Dad.  Now my Mom (who has NO sense of technology) uses an iPod.


06 Nov 2010

Help me Obi-Wan . . .


Help me Obi-Wan . . .


“More than 30 years after the Star Wars film scene in which a hologram of Princess Leia appealed for help from Obi-Wan Kenobi, researchers have unveiled holographic technology to transmit and view moving three-dimensional images.” (Clive Cookson, Financial Times).

This is the stuff that makes me crazy and excited all at the same time.  It makes me crazy because we’ve been working with our partners for years to improve digital signage presentation, presence and content delivery – and just when I think we’re getting pretty good at it – BOOM – game changer comes along.  It makes me excited because, on one hand, I am a science fiction nerd and love new technology, and on the other hand, think we’re pretty good at capitalizing on new technologies for our clients.


03 Nov 2010

Our plan to boost smartphone connectivity.

Without radical changes to the way mobile communication is provided, the demand for data transmission will rapidly overtake the network’s capacity.  This isn’t doomsday scenario stuff – it’s simple math.

Each operator is allocated a 5-megahertz chucks of the electromagnetic spectrum, which the operator uses at each of its transmitters.  The chunks of spectrum carry data either to or from the transmitter.  Many operators are given just two 5 MHz chunks – though some may have as many as five pairs.  Current 3G technologies can send roughly 1 bit of data – a one or a zero – per second over each 1 Hz of spectrum that the operator owns.  That means a cell tower using one pair of 5 MHz chunks of spectrum can transmit just 5 megabytes of data per second.  When you factor thatApple has sold 50 million iPhones and Android is growing at a phenomenal rate, it doesn’t take long overcrowd the system.  If the growth of smartphone use continues at current pace, mobile traffic will more than double every year for the next four years, which means that, assuming best-case scenario in which operators have 50 MHz of spectrum allocated to them, demand will exceed capacity in 2013.  If you live in New York or San Francisco, chances are you’ve already started to experience some of this issue.


30 Oct 2010

Forget oil – Indium may be the next most precious resource!

Indium Ingots

I will grant you that Indiumfinger isn’t a good title for a Bond movie, but Indium may certainly be worth hoarding.

Let’s start with the basics.  Indium is a chemical element with chemical symbol In and atomic number 49.  It is rare, very soft, malleable and is easily fusible.  It is a post-transitional metal that is chemically similar to aluminum or gallium.  Zinc ores are the primary source of indium and is named for the indigo blue line in its spectrum that was the first indication of its existence in ores, as a new and unknown element.

Here’s why it’s important – today’s mobile touchscreen gadgets, along with all liquid crystal displays, rely on it, and it could be gone within the decade.


27 Oct 2010

Smell you later.

It’s no secret that smell is a powerful marketing tool.  It’s no accident that people just happen to be baking chocolate chip cookies when showing a property to prospective buyers, nor that casinos smell like oranges.

We, along with our partners, have tried several times to add smell to digital signage.  It’s not the holy grail, but it would enhance our digital delivery to capture attention via scent.  The problem is that we just can’t get it right.


21 Oct 2010

The next pet rock idea . . .

T is the new X

I was reading an article about Terahertz radiation, and I realized that I was looking at the next million dollar idea – T-ray Specs!

It’s not just the science of marketing – it’s all about marketing science.

Can you imagine how much money was made back in the day by the company that sold the X-ray specs?  They never mis-marketed the product – my recollection is that it was always promoted as an optical illusion or gag, but the company that created / marketed the product knew how to tap into what was current at the time.  In the late 1950s, X-rays were this amazing, futuristic concept that could (and did) change the world.  X-ray specs brought a concept in science into the mainstream.  I don’t know that any doctors got their start by wondering how X-ray specs worked, but it’s neat to me that a scientific concept could enter popular media.

Well, everything old is new again.  Terahertz radiation is a type of radiation that lies between microwaves and infrared wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.


18 Oct 2010

RIP Benoit Mandelbrot

Benoit Mandelbrot

I was saddened to hear that Benoit Mandelbrot had passed away this weekend.  I guess even more so, because he was a key figure in the development of chaos theory, yet his passing has (and probably will) receive very little attention from those outside the scientific community.  His research has, indirectly, had an enormous impact in the computer industry and in the financial markets.  So much so, in fact, awareness of the Mandelbrot set is almost a requirement in consideration of models that we develop for our financial market clients.

I feel fortunate to have heard him speak at a TED Conference, and since his work has become an important part of our marketing / research efforts, it seemed appropriate to present a review of his works here.