Tag: analysis

27 May 2016
brd-moody-graphic

Twitter Character Count: Much A-Twitter About Nothing?

Wiser words were never said.
Wiser words were never said.

Make no mistake, Twitter is my favorite social network. Facebook feels like a guilty pleasure (why am I stalking friends while they’re on vacation?). LinkedIn is, frankly, a snooze. And I’m not enough of a shutterbug to get a lot of use out of Instagram or Snapchat. Twitter is just more … useful.

I get news, traffic, jokes, updates from organizations I’m involved with and little glimpses into (but not full-on photo essays on) the lives of friends. I find it’s the first place I go for breaking news nationally or locally. I’m just more likely to find what’s really going on, in real time, on Twitter than from a news outlet. When a temblor hits Irving, the first place I look to is my “Irving Earthquake” search term newsfeed to see if it was really a quake and verify the magnitude.

So you’d think I’d be more excited about the changes coming to the character limit than I am.

To catch you up – in a recent blog, Twitter announced the following:

“In the coming months we’ll make changes to simplify Tweets including what counts toward your 140 characters, so for instance, @names in replies and media attachments (like photos, GIFs, videos, and polls) will no longer “use up” valuable characters. Here’s what will change:

  • Replies: When replying to a Tweet, @names will no longer count toward the 140-character count. This will make having conversations on Twitter easier and more straightforward, no more penny-pinching your words to ensure they reach the whole group.
  • Media attachments: When you add attachments like photos, GIFs, videos, polls, or Quote Tweets, that media will no longer count as characters within your Tweet. More room for words!
  • Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself: We’ll be enabling the Retweet button on your own Tweets, so you can easily Retweet or Quote Tweet yourself when you want to share a new reflection or feel like a really good one went unnoticed.
  • Goodbye, .@: These changes will help simplify the rules around Tweets that start with a username. New Tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers. (That means you’ll no longer have to use the “.@” convention, which people currently use to broadcast Tweets broadly.) If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly.”

The big news here is the fact that attachments like images, videos, GIFs, polls and quote tweets no longer count as 24 characters. This is all well and good, and I’m happy to have the additional real estate to compose my thoughts. It seems more straightforward than trying to do math when planning to insert an image or video (ask anyone – nothing causes a dark cloud to creep over my face more than math).

But it’s not a game changer. I think individuals trying to compose a clever thought or update will get the most use out of the extra characters. But for companies who have been building their audience and engagement and adhering to best practices, this should have little impact.

Basically it boils down to brevity. The goal has always been to keep Tweets as short as possible. According to Twitter’s own research (via Buddy Media) Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate, so why would you want to go longer? Just because you have the extra space isn’t a reason to make your Tweets longer.

This change will only be a boon to the longwinded individual user who can now use the full 140 characters and still share the cat GIF they found on Reddit.

As they’ve done in the past with changes to the platform, Twitter may release a corresponding paid promotional feature that takes advantage of the new character count. That will certainly be something that bloomfield knoble will be watching out for, to consider for brands doing paid advertising. For now though, don’t look for brands to start telling you to buy their product or service using 24 additional characters.

 


 About The Author

jeff-carrington-headshot

Thanks to the shortening of attention spans and his inability to finish a novel (phenomena that are unrelated, he assures us), Jeff Carrington has found the perfect job for himself as director of communications and social media at bloomfield knoble. When he’s not developing social strategies for clients in 140 characters or less, he’s tweeting about dive bars and dog parks, both of which he frequents with his Spitz-Terrier mix buddy, Ben, and other random humans.
Connect With Jeff Carrington
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# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

09 May 2016

Qubits—Not Qbert

Let’s be honest – I’m not always hard at work in my office here at bloomfield knoble. These moments are infrequent, mind you, but they do occur. While I should probably use my free time to get some form of exercise, I instead use them to pursue my side passion—quantum mechanics. Now, thanks to IBM offering access to a five-qubit quantum processor, my desire for free time (and exponential decrease in productivity) is about to go through some dramatic changes.qbert

By exploiting the weirdness of quantum mechanics, quantum computers can store and process information as qubits, which can be a mixture of 0 and 1 at the same time. This allows them to far surpass conventional computers in certain tasks. IBM is working on computers with tens of qubits, so is putting its now-unneeded smaller chip online. “We want to make it accessible to people who might not know much about quantum computing, but are interested in learning about it,” says Jerry Chow of IBM Research in New York.

You program the chip using what IBM calls Composer, because the interface resembles a musical score. Tutorials explain how to drag and drop different quantum logic gates to create an algorithm, which is then run on the chip in IBM’s lab. Chow hopes that both the general public and expert users will try out the device, giving his team data that will inform research on larger computers. “We want to see where things don’t work as well, and the stability of the experiment over time,” he says. “We’re keen to be surprised by the algorithms external users are trying.”

Don’t worry about needing to actually understand quantum mechanics because if quantum physics sounds challenging to you, you are not alone. Everyone’s intuitions are based on our day-to-day experiences and are defined by classical physics—so most of us find the concepts in quantum physics counterintuitive at first. In order to comprehend the quantum world, you must let go of your beliefs about our physical world, and develop an intuition for a completely different (and often surprising) set of laws.

The goal with the IBM Quantum Experience is to introduce this world through a set of five short tutorials, and by providing the hands-on opportunity to experiment with operations on a real quantum computing processor. This way, they hope to foster a quantum intuition in the greater community, and spark interest in those who are curious. By making quantum concepts more widely understood—even on a general level—IBM can more deeply explore all the possibilities quantum computing offers, and more rapidly bring its exciting power to a world that thinks it is limited by the laws of classical physics.

Check it out for yourself.

I’ve written about quantum computing many, many times, but my fundamental belief remains the same—that quantum computing will fundamentally change the way computers process data. Since I am “encouraged” to write blog articles that are at least remotely tied to advertising and marketing, I believe that quantum computers will process such large amounts of data so quickly that precision marketing will look like the movie Minority Report. I doubt that any of this will occur in my lifetime, but it’s coming. Just look back to the mid-60s when direct mail began using data to better target consumers—and then think about the most recent pre-roll video you saw in your Twitter timeline. Huge leaps in advertising have been made possible by computers—and it’s really just getting started.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
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# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

08 Oct 2015
Focus-Group-version-3-300x300

So did you really like our ad?

focus groupWe at bloomfield knoble are big believers in testing our creative and creative messaging. We have conducted focus groups, in-depth interviews, online panels and software to measure eye-tracking and other physiological responses. The challenge with this, or any type of testing, is to avoid testing bias and to, as much as possible, accurately record responses. As anyone who has ever been involved in testing, this is much harder than it seems. Now it turns out that there may be a way to remove bias altogether by using technology that can analyze a person’s face as they watch advertisements.

A system made by Affectiva, a start-up in Waltham, Massachusetts, can pick up on hidden emotions just by monitoring face movements. According to an article by Aviva Rutkin writing in New Scientist, Affectiva’s software first pinpoints important facial markers, such as the mouth, eyebrows and the top of the nose. then, machine-learning algorithms watch how those regions move or how the skin texture and color changes over the course of the video. These changes are broken down into discrete expressions indicating shifting emotions.

According to Affectiva’s principal scientist Daniel McDuff, the approach lets you find out what people actually think from moment to moment while the ad runs, not just what they say once it is over. “It provides a way of getting at those more genuine, spontaneous interactions,” he says. “This is their visceral response. It’s not sent through a cognitive filter where they have to evaluate how they feel.” In a study published this month, McDuff and his colleagues asked 1,223 people to give his team access to their home webcams while they watched a series of ads for sweets, pet supplies and groceries.

Before and after the ads ran, the subjects filled out online surveys about how likely they were to purchase the products shown. While they watched, the software stayed on the lookout for emotions, such as happiness, surprise or confusion. Afterwards, the researchers found that they could use the facial data to accurately predict someone’s survey results –  suggesting that they could rely on the computer’s analysis alone to know where an ad was successful. In the future, McDuff thinks the system could plug into TV services such as Netflix. “You could imagine suggesting TV programs or movies that people could watch, or ads that they find more enjoyable,” he says.

The Affectiva team has amassed a database of over three million videos of people across different ages, genders and ethnicities. McDuff says that there seem to be subtle variations in emotional responses: women tend to have more positive facial expressions than men, for example. By understanding how different groups respond, companies could put together ads that are fine-tuned for particular audiences. The data could also help advertisers to tweak their ads to tie in more closely to viewers’ emotions – for example, by putting in the name of the brand at the moment that elicits the strongest positive reaction.

Automated emotional analysis systems are promising, says Michel Wedel, who studies consumer science at the University of Maryland in College Park. They let advertisers break an ad down moment by moment to figure out exactly what works and what doesn’t. “What’s particularly powerful is that they’re unobtrusive,” he says. “They don’t rely on introspection or recollection.”


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
twitter
facebooklinkedin_25x25youtube_25X25

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

23 Sep 2015
brain

Let's Agree (in advance) to Disagree

brainMy fifth grade science teacher (Dr. Thomas Mummy) taught me something that I have never forgotten – when determining the best course of action, present opposing viewpoints and what comes out of it will be better than either original argument – then repeat the process. This concept (thesis vs. antithesis = synthesis) is one of the reasons that bloomfield knoble is a successful agency.

To an outsider, it may look like the bloomfield knoble ideation process is rife with friction, but frictional force is necessary to begin motion (Fr = Ur/r(N)). Friction, when structured, is also useful in making sure that different ideas are considered and weighed in order to make sure the best possible idea is being put forth. It has long been known that people tend to bend their opinions toward those of the majority (also the subject of my last article). According to Aviva Rutkin, writing in New Scientist, in 2011, Jamil Zaki, a psychologist at Stanford University in California, and colleagues discovered why. It involves the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain’s reward center that lights up when we encounter things we want, like a candy bar.

Zak’s team found that it also activates when people are told what others think, and the more this part of the brain responds to information about group opinion, the more someone will adjust their opinion toward the consensus. Conformity can be useful in our day-to-day lives, letting others serve as a guide in unfamiliar situations, says Lisa Knoll, a neuroscientist at University College London, but it can also lead us into danger. Earlier this year, Knoll published a study in which she asked people to rate the riskiness of texting while crossing the street, driving without using a seat belt and so on. After seeing a number that supposedly represented the evaluations of others, all the volunteers moved their ratings in the direction of the majority, even if that meant downgrading their initial estimate of risk.

That dynamic may have been at work in February 2012, when three members of a skiing group, including pros, sports reporters and industry executives, died in an avalanche on a backcountry slope in Washington state. Keith Carlsen, a ski photographer on the trip, told The New York Times that he’d had doubts about the outing but dismissed them, “There’s no way this entire group can make a decision that isn’t smart.” That same dynamic appears all too often in advertising. There are many examples of ads that fail – or even offend – and make everyone who sees them wonder how it even got made in the first place. Everyone in advertising knows exactly how it happens – someone gets an idea (often a client) and then no one wants to speak out about the idea that the client liked – so it gets made. Doubts get pushed aside and a groupthink mentality sets in that it’s a great campaign and everyone will love it. Then it doesn’t work and suddenly hard lessons are learned – the lesson that it MUST be acceptable for people to speak up / out / against, etc.

It’s not going to be possible to eliminate group errors, but it may be possible to minimize them by finding ways to spark debate. When bloomfield knoble gets together, the project manager encourages people to voice conflicting views. We may also vote on decisions privately rather than voice opposition publicly. Dissent (organized dissent, that is) is encouraged in our offices. Any frustrations from dissenting opinions are usually worked out over a game of ping pong (you should follow us, @bloom_tweets on Periscope to watch one of these games).

Dissent is welcome at bloomfield knoble, because what really matters is that the result of our efforts of thesis vs. antithesis = synthesis generates success for our clients.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
twitter
facebooklinkedin_25x25youtube_25X25

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

 

 

23 Sep 2015
brain

Let’s Agree (in advance) to Disagree

brainMy fifth grade science teacher (Dr. Thomas Mummy) taught me something that I have never forgotten – when determining the best course of action, present opposing viewpoints and what comes out of it will be better than either original argument – then repeat the process. This concept (thesis vs. antithesis = synthesis) is one of the reasons that bloomfield knoble is a successful agency.

To an outsider, it may look like the bloomfield knoble ideation process is rife with friction, but frictional force is necessary to begin motion (Fr = Ur/r(N)). Friction, when structured, is also useful in making sure that different ideas are considered and weighed in order to make sure the best possible idea is being put forth. It has long been known that people tend to bend their opinions toward those of the majority (also the subject of my last article). According to Aviva Rutkin, writing in New Scientist, in 2011, Jamil Zaki, a psychologist at Stanford University in California, and colleagues discovered why. It involves the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain’s reward center that lights up when we encounter things we want, like a candy bar.

Zak’s team found that it also activates when people are told what others think, and the more this part of the brain responds to information about group opinion, the more someone will adjust their opinion toward the consensus. Conformity can be useful in our day-to-day lives, letting others serve as a guide in unfamiliar situations, says Lisa Knoll, a neuroscientist at University College London, but it can also lead us into danger. Earlier this year, Knoll published a study in which she asked people to rate the riskiness of texting while crossing the street, driving without using a seat belt and so on. After seeing a number that supposedly represented the evaluations of others, all the volunteers moved their ratings in the direction of the majority, even if that meant downgrading their initial estimate of risk.

That dynamic may have been at work in February 2012, when three members of a skiing group, including pros, sports reporters and industry executives, died in an avalanche on a backcountry slope in Washington state. Keith Carlsen, a ski photographer on the trip, told The New York Times that he’d had doubts about the outing but dismissed them, “There’s no way this entire group can make a decision that isn’t smart.” That same dynamic appears all too often in advertising. There are many examples of ads that fail – or even offend – and make everyone who sees them wonder how it even got made in the first place. Everyone in advertising knows exactly how it happens – someone gets an idea (often a client) and then no one wants to speak out about the idea that the client liked – so it gets made. Doubts get pushed aside and a groupthink mentality sets in that it’s a great campaign and everyone will love it. Then it doesn’t work and suddenly hard lessons are learned – the lesson that it MUST be acceptable for people to speak up / out / against, etc.

It’s not going to be possible to eliminate group errors, but it may be possible to minimize them by finding ways to spark debate. When bloomfield knoble gets together, the project manager encourages people to voice conflicting views. We may also vote on decisions privately rather than voice opposition publicly. Dissent (organized dissent, that is) is encouraged in our offices. Any frustrations from dissenting opinions are usually worked out over a game of ping pong (you should follow us, @bloom_tweets on Periscope to watch one of these games).

Dissent is welcome at bloomfield knoble, because what really matters is that the result of our efforts of thesis vs. antithesis = synthesis generates success for our clients.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
twitter
facebooklinkedin_25x25youtube_25X25

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

 

 

11 Aug 2015
crowds

Forget 'Wisdom of the Crowd'

crowdsOne of the central tenets of bloomfield knoble is R.U.D.E. (an acronym for Research, Understanding, Design and Execution) – the process by which we help our clients achieve success. While the process remains the same from client to client, the application of the process can vary widely depending on need and circumstance. Take for example, “Research.”

At bloomfield knoble, we are big believers in using focus groups to learn, analyze and test, but it seems that we are rapidly becoming considered “old school” for our method of research. The popular notion among everyone – from agencies to brands – is to utilize social media to harness the “wisdom of the crowd” – the belief that large groups of people can make smart decisions even when poorly informed, because individual errors of judgement based on imperfect information tend to cancel out. To that, we at bloomfield knoble say, “hogwash!” (pardon my language).

A quick primer: the selfishness of humans is a central assumption of orthodox economics, where it is thought to lead to benefits for the economy as a whole. It is what 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith described as the “invisible hand.” For simplicity’s sake, orthodox economics assumes that people making a fundamental decision (such as whether to buy or sell something), have access to all relevant information. If the price is too high, then because we’re rational and self-interested, we don’t buy and the price falls. The general idea is that, eventually, supply equals demand. Well, it turns out that people aren’t rational, because people (like me) will pay some ridiculous amount for an old vinyl album that they loved as a kid – pretty much regardless of price.

That’s just one silly example, but it is correct to present that in addition to not being rational, humans don’t always have accurate information and certainly don’t act in isolation. We learn from each other, and what we value, buy and invest in is strongly influenced by our beliefs and cultural norms, which themselves change over time and space. Over the years, there have been various attempts to inject more realism into the field by incorporating insights into how humans actually behave. This is known as behavioral economics and works great when attempting to understand how individuals and small groups make economic decisions. This, most recently, has been the area of “nudge” – persuading people into doing what’s best by subtly influencing behavior. Unfortunately, the complexities of behavioral economics make it too unwieldy to be applied across the board.

According to a great article in New Scientist by Kate Douglas, it turns out that humans adapt our decisions according to the situation, which in turn changes the situations faced by others, and so on. The stability or instability of financial markets, for example, depends to a great extent on traders, whose strategies vary according to what they expect to be most profitable at any one time. According to Alan Kirman, an economist at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris, France, “The economy should be considered as a complex adaptive system in which agents constantly react to, influence and are influenced by the other individuals in the economy.”

This is where biologists might help. Some researchers are used to exploring the nature and functions of complex interactions between networks of individuals as part of their attempts to understand swarms of locusts, termite colonies or entire ecosystems. Their work has provided insights into how information spreads within groups and how that influences consensus decision-making, says Iain Cousin from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz, Germany.

It is this new research approach that may change the way agencies and brands approach gathering information. Remember, in orthodox economics, the wisdom of the crowd helps to determine the prices of assets and ensures that markets function efficiently. “This is often misplaced,” says Cousin. By creating a computer model based on how animals make consensus decisions, Cousin and his colleagues showed last year that the wisdom of the crowd works only under certain conditions – and that contrary to popular belief, small groups with access to many sources of information tend to make the best decisions. According to their abstract:

Individuals in groups, whether composed of humans or other animal species, often make important decisions collectively, including avoiding predators, selecting a direction in which to migrate and electing political leaders. Theoretical and empirical work suggests that collective decisions can be more accurate than individual decisions, a phenomenon known as the ‘wisdom of crowds.’ In these previous studies, it has been assumed that individuals make independent estimates based on a single environmental cue. In the real world, however, most cues exhibit some spatial and temporal correlation, and consequently, the sensory information that near neighbours detect will also be, to some degree, correlated. Furthermore, it may be rare for an environment to contain only a single informative cue, with multiple cues being the norm.

We demonstrate, using two simple models, that taking this natural complexity into account considerably alters the relationship between group size and decision-making accuracy. In only a minority of environments do we observe the typical wisdom of crowds phenomenon (whereby collective accuracy increases monotonically with group size). When the wisdom of crowds is not observed, we find that a finite, and often small, group size maximizes decision accuracy. We reveal that, counterintuitively, it is the noise inherent in these small groups that enhances their accuracy, allowing individuals in such groups to avoid the detrimental effects of correlated information while exploiting the benefits of collective decision-making. Our results demonstrate that the conventional view of the wisdom of crowds may not be informative in complex and realistic environments, and that being in small groups can maximize decision accuracy across many contexts.

That’s because the individual decisions that make up the consensus are based on two types of environmental cue: those to which the entire group are exposed – known as high-correlation cues – and those that only some individuals see, or low-correlation cues. Cousin found that in larger groups, the information known by all members drowns out that which only a few individuals noticed. So if the widely known information is unreliable, larger groups make poor decisions. Smaller groups, on the other hand, still make good decisions because they rely on a greater diversity of information.

Now, I realize that I am making a bit of a stretch here. A focus group about consumer packaged goods isn’t the same as financial modeling for the Greek economy, but it does highlight the need to better understand who has what information and how to prevent over-reliance on highly correlated information, which can compromise collective intelligence. Operating in a series of smaller groups may help prevent decision-makers from indulging their natural tendency to follow the pack. Here’s a quick test for you: how many “influencers” do you follow on LinkedIn? LinkedIn even makes suggestions on who to follow and rewards people that drive action with special “influencer” badges. Information passed on to followers are perceived to have already been “vetted” or “approved,” which may actually minimize the amount of research an individual will perform.

There isn’t much argument among agencies that research is important – it’s the approach to the research that seems to be a matter of some debate. Those who would hold up research models that show vast numbers of followers on social media love “Creative A” better than “Creative B” may not be any more accurate than those who tout the results of a focus group between 8 and 12 people. Regardless, there is one thing that Adam Smith taught that holds true for agency economics – get it wrong and you’re fired! So maybe there is still something to be said for orthodox economics in advertising after all.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
twitter
facebooklinkedin_25x25youtube_25X25

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

11 Aug 2015
crowds

Forget ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’

crowdsOne of the central tenets of bloomfield knoble is R.U.D.E. (an acronym for Research, Understanding, Design and Execution) – the process by which we help our clients achieve success. While the process remains the same from client to client, the application of the process can vary widely depending on need and circumstance. Take for example, “Research.”

At bloomfield knoble, we are big believers in using focus groups to learn, analyze and test, but it seems that we are rapidly becoming considered “old school” for our method of research. The popular notion among everyone – from agencies to brands – is to utilize social media to harness the “wisdom of the crowd” – the belief that large groups of people can make smart decisions even when poorly informed, because individual errors of judgement based on imperfect information tend to cancel out. To that, we at bloomfield knoble say, “hogwash!” (pardon my language).

A quick primer: the selfishness of humans is a central assumption of orthodox economics, where it is thought to lead to benefits for the economy as a whole. It is what 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith described as the “invisible hand.” For simplicity’s sake, orthodox economics assumes that people making a fundamental decision (such as whether to buy or sell something), have access to all relevant information. If the price is too high, then because we’re rational and self-interested, we don’t buy and the price falls. The general idea is that, eventually, supply equals demand. Well, it turns out that people aren’t rational, because people (like me) will pay some ridiculous amount for an old vinyl album that they loved as a kid – pretty much regardless of price.

That’s just one silly example, but it is correct to present that in addition to not being rational, humans don’t always have accurate information and certainly don’t act in isolation. We learn from each other, and what we value, buy and invest in is strongly influenced by our beliefs and cultural norms, which themselves change over time and space. Over the years, there have been various attempts to inject more realism into the field by incorporating insights into how humans actually behave. This is known as behavioral economics and works great when attempting to understand how individuals and small groups make economic decisions. This, most recently, has been the area of “nudge” – persuading people into doing what’s best by subtly influencing behavior. Unfortunately, the complexities of behavioral economics make it too unwieldy to be applied across the board.

According to a great article in New Scientist by Kate Douglas, it turns out that humans adapt our decisions according to the situation, which in turn changes the situations faced by others, and so on. The stability or instability of financial markets, for example, depends to a great extent on traders, whose strategies vary according to what they expect to be most profitable at any one time. According to Alan Kirman, an economist at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris, France, “The economy should be considered as a complex adaptive system in which agents constantly react to, influence and are influenced by the other individuals in the economy.”

This is where biologists might help. Some researchers are used to exploring the nature and functions of complex interactions between networks of individuals as part of their attempts to understand swarms of locusts, termite colonies or entire ecosystems. Their work has provided insights into how information spreads within groups and how that influences consensus decision-making, says Iain Cousin from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz, Germany.

It is this new research approach that may change the way agencies and brands approach gathering information. Remember, in orthodox economics, the wisdom of the crowd helps to determine the prices of assets and ensures that markets function efficiently. “This is often misplaced,” says Cousin. By creating a computer model based on how animals make consensus decisions, Cousin and his colleagues showed last year that the wisdom of the crowd works only under certain conditions – and that contrary to popular belief, small groups with access to many sources of information tend to make the best decisions. According to their abstract:

Individuals in groups, whether composed of humans or other animal species, often make important decisions collectively, including avoiding predators, selecting a direction in which to migrate and electing political leaders. Theoretical and empirical work suggests that collective decisions can be more accurate than individual decisions, a phenomenon known as the ‘wisdom of crowds.’ In these previous studies, it has been assumed that individuals make independent estimates based on a single environmental cue. In the real world, however, most cues exhibit some spatial and temporal correlation, and consequently, the sensory information that near neighbours detect will also be, to some degree, correlated. Furthermore, it may be rare for an environment to contain only a single informative cue, with multiple cues being the norm.

We demonstrate, using two simple models, that taking this natural complexity into account considerably alters the relationship between group size and decision-making accuracy. In only a minority of environments do we observe the typical wisdom of crowds phenomenon (whereby collective accuracy increases monotonically with group size). When the wisdom of crowds is not observed, we find that a finite, and often small, group size maximizes decision accuracy. We reveal that, counterintuitively, it is the noise inherent in these small groups that enhances their accuracy, allowing individuals in such groups to avoid the detrimental effects of correlated information while exploiting the benefits of collective decision-making. Our results demonstrate that the conventional view of the wisdom of crowds may not be informative in complex and realistic environments, and that being in small groups can maximize decision accuracy across many contexts.

That’s because the individual decisions that make up the consensus are based on two types of environmental cue: those to which the entire group are exposed – known as high-correlation cues – and those that only some individuals see, or low-correlation cues. Cousin found that in larger groups, the information known by all members drowns out that which only a few individuals noticed. So if the widely known information is unreliable, larger groups make poor decisions. Smaller groups, on the other hand, still make good decisions because they rely on a greater diversity of information.

Now, I realize that I am making a bit of a stretch here. A focus group about consumer packaged goods isn’t the same as financial modeling for the Greek economy, but it does highlight the need to better understand who has what information and how to prevent over-reliance on highly correlated information, which can compromise collective intelligence. Operating in a series of smaller groups may help prevent decision-makers from indulging their natural tendency to follow the pack. Here’s a quick test for you: how many “influencers” do you follow on LinkedIn? LinkedIn even makes suggestions on who to follow and rewards people that drive action with special “influencer” badges. Information passed on to followers are perceived to have already been “vetted” or “approved,” which may actually minimize the amount of research an individual will perform.

There isn’t much argument among agencies that research is important – it’s the approach to the research that seems to be a matter of some debate. Those who would hold up research models that show vast numbers of followers on social media love “Creative A” better than “Creative B” may not be any more accurate than those who tout the results of a focus group between 8 and 12 people. Regardless, there is one thing that Adam Smith taught that holds true for agency economics – get it wrong and you’re fired! So maybe there is still something to be said for orthodox economics in advertising after all.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
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# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

07 Jul 2015
birthday_cake

Maybe you don't have to spend as much as you think.

birthday_cakeEveryone at bloomfield knoble knows not to ask me STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)-related questions, because I will not give a simple answer. I seize the opportunity to fill an entire whiteboard with formulas and computations as if I were giving a lecture at MIT. In my defense, I don’t try to be like that, it’s just so many STEM-related answers are based on knowing the answers to a bunch of other questions. For example, Chi square (calculating the relationship between two variables to determine if they are related) is pretty common in marketing. However, calculating Chi square means constructing the observed values table using the original dataset; using the f^e formula to construct the expected values table; using the Chi square former to calculate the Chi square value; using the df formula and the Chi square table to discover if that x^2 value is significant; and drawing a conclusion about the relationship between the two variables. So, yeah, ask me a question and I’m going to walk through the entire process to deliver the answer.

Sorry – got a bit off topic. See! I just used a paragraph to explain why people don’t ask me STEM-related questions.

Anyway, it turns out that Clark (associate creative director here at bloomfield knoble) and I have the same birthdate. One of the interns, who doesn’t know better, asked what the chances are that two people in a relatively-small office would have the same birthday, and the topic for this week’s blog was born. Let the whiteboard explanation (followed by the reason it matters in advertising/marketing) commence:

Let’s exclude February 29th because those people, like Gingers, are born without souls, so that a year has 365 days. Let’s also assume that all days are equally likely birthdays for a randomly chosen person. So how many people do you need to ask to be at least 50% certain that at least two of them have the same birthday? What’s your guess? Many people answer 183, which is about half of 365. This is a fairly well-known problem, so you might already know the answer is 23.

We arrive at the answer by computing the probability that everyone has a different birthday and then subtract this from 1. Start with just two people. The first can have any birthday and the second person must avoid this day, which has a probability of 364/365. The probability that two people share a birthday is thus 1 – 364/365 or about 0.003. Add another person. His or her birthday must avoid both previously taken birthdays, which has probability of 363/365. The probability that all three people have different birthday is 364/365 x 363/365 and the probability that there is some common birthday in a group of three is P(some common birthday) = 1 – 364/365 x 363/365 about 0.01. We keep doing this over and over. At 10 people, the the probability already exceeds 0.1 and at 22 people it is 0.48 and at 23 people the probability of some common birthday is 0.51. Thus, only 23 people are needed to be at least 50% certain that there is some common birthday.

Remember, this isn’t the same as the probability that somebody shares a particular birthday, which is how I’m going to spin this math lesson back to marketing and advertising.

There are, generally, two types of campaigns. There is the campaign where you are trying to reach a very specific audience and influence them all; and there is the type of campaign where you are trying to reach everyone and then influence some. The first campaign is like two people sharing a particular birthday – you have very specific criteria in mind and you determine the reach and frequency based on those criteria. These are, in my opinion, the best kind of campaigns and thanks to the willingness of people to give up their private information in return for cat pictures, very easy to accomplish. The second campaign is a bit trickier. This is the “maybe I should get a billboard” campaign. It’s become quite popular to dismiss these kinds of campaigns, simply because we – as ad people – don’t feel like we’ll reach the target audience or that they are simply too expensive to have an effective return on investment. But much of that “feeling” isn’t always based in true numbers.

Like the birthday problem, the number that seems correct (183 to hit 50%) isn’t actually the number. The same is true in different types of campaigns. It is easy to dismiss campaign elements like Digital Out of Home, or billboards, etc. as a “waste of money” because the length of time required to be seen by enough people may seem like too low of an ROI. However, a little statistical analysis may reveal that we don’t have to spend as much as we thought to be effective. I could show you the math behind that thinking, but I’ve run out of space on the whiteboard.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
twitter
facebooklinkedin_25x25youtube_25X25

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

07 Jul 2015
birthday_cake

Maybe you don’t have to spend as much as you think.

birthday_cakeEveryone at bloomfield knoble knows not to ask me STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)-related questions, because I will not give a simple answer. I seize the opportunity to fill an entire whiteboard with formulas and computations as if I were giving a lecture at MIT. In my defense, I don’t try to be like that, it’s just so many STEM-related answers are based on knowing the answers to a bunch of other questions. For example, Chi square (calculating the relationship between two variables to determine if they are related) is pretty common in marketing. However, calculating Chi square means constructing the observed values table using the original dataset; using the f^e formula to construct the expected values table; using the Chi square former to calculate the Chi square value; using the df formula and the Chi square table to discover if that x^2 value is significant; and drawing a conclusion about the relationship between the two variables. So, yeah, ask me a question and I’m going to walk through the entire process to deliver the answer.

Sorry – got a bit off topic. See! I just used a paragraph to explain why people don’t ask me STEM-related questions.

Anyway, it turns out that Clark (associate creative director here at bloomfield knoble) and I have the same birthdate. One of the interns, who doesn’t know better, asked what the chances are that two people in a relatively-small office would have the same birthday, and the topic for this week’s blog was born. Let the whiteboard explanation (followed by the reason it matters in advertising/marketing) commence:

Let’s exclude February 29th because those people, like Gingers, are born without souls, so that a year has 365 days. Let’s also assume that all days are equally likely birthdays for a randomly chosen person. So how many people do you need to ask to be at least 50% certain that at least two of them have the same birthday? What’s your guess? Many people answer 183, which is about half of 365. This is a fairly well-known problem, so you might already know the answer is 23.

We arrive at the answer by computing the probability that everyone has a different birthday and then subtract this from 1. Start with just two people. The first can have any birthday and the second person must avoid this day, which has a probability of 364/365. The probability that two people share a birthday is thus 1 – 364/365 or about 0.003. Add another person. His or her birthday must avoid both previously taken birthdays, which has probability of 363/365. The probability that all three people have different birthday is 364/365 x 363/365 and the probability that there is some common birthday in a group of three is P(some common birthday) = 1 – 364/365 x 363/365 about 0.01. We keep doing this over and over. At 10 people, the the probability already exceeds 0.1 and at 22 people it is 0.48 and at 23 people the probability of some common birthday is 0.51. Thus, only 23 people are needed to be at least 50% certain that there is some common birthday.

Remember, this isn’t the same as the probability that somebody shares a particular birthday, which is how I’m going to spin this math lesson back to marketing and advertising.

There are, generally, two types of campaigns. There is the campaign where you are trying to reach a very specific audience and influence them all; and there is the type of campaign where you are trying to reach everyone and then influence some. The first campaign is like two people sharing a particular birthday – you have very specific criteria in mind and you determine the reach and frequency based on those criteria. These are, in my opinion, the best kind of campaigns and thanks to the willingness of people to give up their private information in return for cat pictures, very easy to accomplish. The second campaign is a bit trickier. This is the “maybe I should get a billboard” campaign. It’s become quite popular to dismiss these kinds of campaigns, simply because we – as ad people – don’t feel like we’ll reach the target audience or that they are simply too expensive to have an effective return on investment. But much of that “feeling” isn’t always based in true numbers.

Like the birthday problem, the number that seems correct (183 to hit 50%) isn’t actually the number. The same is true in different types of campaigns. It is easy to dismiss campaign elements like Digital Out of Home, or billboards, etc. as a “waste of money” because the length of time required to be seen by enough people may seem like too low of an ROI. However, a little statistical analysis may reveal that we don’t have to spend as much as we thought to be effective. I could show you the math behind that thinking, but I’ve run out of space on the whiteboard.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
twitter
facebooklinkedin_25x25youtube_25X25

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

29 Sep 2014
network_theory

Why Network Theory Matters.

network_theoryWe have a great team here at bloomfield knoble. Each member of the team brings a unique perspective to the table regardless of what product or service we are offering to a client or brand. I have built personal and professional relationships with everyone here and, while I may not always agree with them, truly value their input as a variable in the decision-making process. However, the weight I give to each person’s input depends on the topic. For example, if the bloomfield knoble team is working on developing a logo for a brand, I will give more weight to the creative team than the finance team. I don’t do it to be prejudicial, it’s just how I interpret the value of comments from people I interact with.

If you think about it, you realize that you’ve been doing the same thing your entire life. You have had a series of teachers, tutors, mentors, whatever, shape the way you approach everything from solving a math problem to driving down the highway. At some point you took all of the lessons you learned and created your own identity – your own plan for solving problems and determining a course of action. You can still accept outside influence, but you’ve got a way you like to work and do things and you’re pretty sure you know what’s right for you.

At bloomfield knoble, like any agency, we’re doing our best to be an influence in the decision-making process. We work hard to generate awareness, drive engagement through education and provide a clear call-to-action (or incentive) to drive usage. It’s why there are TV ads, billboards, magazine ads, online banners and a million other messages that bombard us as consumers. What is relevant to one individual may not be relevant to someone else. The point is that advertising is trying to provide you with information (of a sort) to help you make a decision during the buying process and, ideally, it’s the product or service we’re trying to sell. Agencies work very hard to identify who you are as an individual, where you are in the buying process, and what might give you the greatest incentive to engage with our client. Agencies work very hard to build brand awareness, recognition, trust and loyalty and create a one-on-one relationship.

And here’s where it all goes out the window: welcome to network theory.

In a nutshell, network theory is finding pathways and determining the influence of those pathways. There are different types of network theory, but I’m only going to talk about social network theory. The bottom line is this: the people with whom we interact on a regular basis, and some with who we interact only sporadically, influence our beliefs, decisions and behaviors. If you want to really understand this concept, I highly recommend An Overview of Social Networks and Economic Applications by Matthew O. Jackson, written for the Handbook of Social Economics.

What does that mean to us as advertisers? It means that all the hard work we put into creating awareness, attitude and usage when building brand essence doesn’t mean squat if we can’t control the other connections that people use as part of their decision-making process. This is an impactful statement and is already changing the way every agency and brand does business, so let it sink in for a second.

Let me give you an example of network theory at work. A young couple is shopping and decide to grab a bite to eat. There are many restaurants around them, but none where the couple has eaten before. Thanks to advertising, there is some awareness of their choices. From an agency perspective, the hope is that the couple recall a particular ad or incentive tied to an ad to make a decision. Each restaurant in the area has spent money to capture attention and provide a point of difference versus the competition (come eat pizza – come eat chicken) and, ideally, the people will use their knowledge of the restaurants – provided via advertising – to make a selection. So what happens? One person pulls out a phone and opens Yelp. Now, people whom the couple have never met are influencing the decision-making process. It doesn’t matter that the brand has built a one-on-one connection via their marketing efforts; someone else – not even remotely associated with the couple – have driven the couple to (great place to eat review) or away (worst place ever review).

Understanding this process – the concept of network theory – is changing everything. It’s not just social media – it’s deeper than that. It’s understanding the core functions and concepts behind why we, as consumers, accept influence from people we don’t know. Understanding at least the idea behind network theory is the only way we as an agency can truly develop a strategy that will help clients maximize the impact that channels, like social networks, can have on brand essence. There are plenty of agencies that promote relationship management or content development, but that’s being reactive to the channel – not the underlying cause. It’s the difference between taking medicine to stop a stomach ache and understanding what is causing the stomach ache in the first place. It’s why movie trailers still feature comments from critics and it’s why TV shows now put comments collected from Twitter in their ads.

Network Theory is changing the very way agencies do business. Are you ready?


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
twitter
facebooklinkedin_25x25youtube_25X25

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.