Tag: data

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
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.

31 Mar 2016

What can Tay teach us about social media?

What, besides figuring out that trolls (some of whom work here at bloomfield knoble) rule the Internet, can Tay teach us about social media?

By now you’ve probably heard about the rise (and very dramatic fall) of Microsoft’s Tay, an artificially intelligent bot on Twitter. Microsoft was hoping to show off that it had made significant strides in the world of artificial intelligence while attempting to build a real understanding of how a specific subset of society interacts. Unfortunately for Microsoft, they didn’t actually create an AI, they simply created a chat bot – a program that repurposed the content it received in a way that would seem to emulate the subset of society it was trying to emulate (in this case, the personality of a teenage girl). The impact is that a chat bot doesn’t know “right” or “wrong” just nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. For some unknown reason, Microsoft decided to let Tay learn courtesy of the interwebs – and the interwebs obliged in only the way the interwebs know how.

I’m not going to jump on the “how dumb are engineers at Microsoft for not knowing how the Internet works?” bandwagon (too easy), because we may have actually learned something very interesting from this experiment.

If you can analyze the sentiment of large-scale populations, then you can ensure that things like public policies are effective. In fact, a recent paper by Annabelle Wenas from the University of Indonesia titled Measuring happiness in large population addresses just this. She writes, 

“Governing complex modern societies requires some basic measurements in the societal level. These measurements will ensure that public policies are effective and meet the ever changing demand. However, currently, the most common aggregate measures of societies are economic measures such as economic growth. Yet, as modern societies grow more complex, there is a need to develop other measurements beyond economic measures especially for psychological measures that can capture subjective well-being. It is reasonable to think that a combination of economic and psychological measures can provide more comprehensive view of a society which, in turn, will be useful for formulating better public policies and their evaluations.”

Wenas proposes an approach to measure psychological characteristics for large populations based on text data (like Twitter). The authors also note that this concept isn’t exactly new, in fact, 

“Our focus is on the measurement of emotional states and we follow [J.A. Russell from Psychological Review] who asserted that emotion, mood and other emotionally charged events are states that are simply combinations between feeling good or bad and energized or worn out. Russell addressed these emotional states as core affect, and mapped its structure into circumplex model. Horizontal axis of circumplex model is valence, which is a measure of emotion ranging from negative to positive emotions. Whereas its vertical axis is arousal, a measure of emotional intensity. Thus, for example, anger is a negative emotion with high intensity and lethargic is a negative emotion with low intensity. On the other hand of the spectrum, excited and calm are positive emotions with high and low intensity respectively. Note that happiness is a positive emotion with moderate intensity.”

In a nutshell, the author scoured Twitter for keywords that generally reflect happiness and measured not only word valence, but also the measurement of arousal dimension. The reason to include arousal is because positive valence is necessary but not a sufficient component of happiness, because there are either states that have positive valence like excitement and calm. Thus, the level of arousal is the key to differentiate excitement, happiness and calm. Three of them indeed have positive valence, yet their arousal level are variable from high, moderate to low (respectively). The author provides the formula and proof of their test and admits that there approach has the potential to be used as a measure of emotions for large population in multi domains. Further development of their approach will include tests for sensitivity, robustness and also the inclusion of other psychological measures, such as moral judgments, values and personality.

So, what does a paper about studying happiness have to do with Tay? Nothing and everything. The concept behind Tay was, I suspect, not to generate an AI that can pass the Turing test, but rather a chat bot that would better understand a specific subset of culture. Understanding that subset of culture would help identify trends, patters, concepts and could then, theoretically, be used to identify future activity. IBM did something similar when Watson announced that SteamPunk was the next big thing. This concept – understanding and predicting – is what every agency (like bloomfield knoble) – is trying to achieve for clients. It’s why we spend so much time gathering and analyzing big data (yes, I said it) – we want to spend money where it will be most effective. Bottom line. And if a chat bot can learn enough about a specific subset to help us identify best use of ad dollars, then so be it. 


 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.

27 Oct 2015
flipboard

Using data to enhance ad targeting

I was at a family gathering this weekend and was watching my son and my nieces and nephews (aged from 8  – 14) avoid social interaction with adults by spending all of their time on iPads or iPhones when I noticed something interesting. They were all on the same platform (Instagram) and sharing a verbal conversation about what they were looking at, but they were all processing the information differently. One kid would find a funny picture and tell the other kids. All the kids would go to that picture and laugh or comment, but even though they were at the same starting point, they would go different directions on their own mobile device until another funny picture was found and then the process would repeat itself.

Watching them reinforced that relevancy is a vital plank of any advertising plan – that even though we at bloomfield knoble, or any advertising agency, think we know what people are going to do – we don’t. It is because of this uncertainty that you find more and more advertising campaigns offering additional information across a wide variety of social media platforms. It wasn’t that many years ago that the only action we thought people would take would be to call a phone number. Then it became the only action we thought people would take would be to go to the website. Now an agency has to prepare for, well, everything. So I am always pleased when platforms make life easier for us here at bloomfield knoble.

I was quite excited to read that Flipboard opened up its data to enhance ad targeting on its platform. If you’re not familiar with them, Flipboard gives people a single place to follow all of their interests. People use Flipboard to enjoy their favorite sources from around the world and then save stories, images, and videos into their own Flipboard magazines—sharing items that reflect their interests, express their perspectives, or are simply things they want to read later.

Curation, reader behavior and social data together with Flipboard’s powerful Topic Engine, which understands the content of articles, are the key elements of the social magazine’s new Interest Graph Targeting. Interest Graph Targeting combines the best of two worlds: contextual advertising and behavioral targeting, without their downsides. Instead of targeting individuals based on cookies and tracking them across the Internet, which is not a viable option on mobile devices, Flipboard’s Interest Graph lets brands reach people based on billions of stories per month across thousands of publishers including the top premium publishers that users are reading, sharing, curating, liking, and discussing.

This launch signifies a next phase in Flipboard’s advertising business as advertisers can now increase the relevancy of their full-page adds, Promoted Stories or Videos and Brand Magazines by placing them near related stories and by reaching people who are interested in this content. “Flipboard is well known for beauty and design, which is reflected in the presentation of content as well as advertising. We combine this beauty with ‘brains’: our deep understanding of the intricate connections between people, content and interests through our Interest Graph,” said Mike McCue, Flipboard’s co-founder and CEO. “The Interest Graph powers content discovery on Flipboard and now, we’re opening it up to our brand partners who want to get their messages in front of their audience in the right context as well as in the right mindset.”

Interest Graph Targeting also ensures that ads appear in proximity to and in related content, making them interesting and relevant to the topic a person is reading about on Flipboard. Flipboard’s ad data has historically shown strong performance when brand ads and branded content were aligned with relevant interest channels. Interest Graph Targeting further enhances this contextual targeting by giving advertisers access to all 34,000 Flipboard topics and using the billions of user data points. High-end brands, that place a premium on the placement of ads, can use Interest Graph targeting to ensure their ads appear in the appropriate context.For instance, a retirement fund can target financial topics, and an airline can target different travel destinations; Flipboard’s Interest Graph automatically knows all the related relevant topics omitting hours of research into keywords. “We can go beyond the keyword to find like-minded people in broader contexts that will resonate with an advertiser’s brand narrative,” said Dave Huynh, head of ad product at Flipboard. As Flipboard’s audience grows—recently reaching 80 million monthly active users—advertisers increasingly seek out the platform to reach their audiences. To meet the growing interest from brands, the company has made advertising a key focus this year, expanding its ad formats and targeting capabilities.Using tools like Flipboard’s Interest Graph can be of great benefit to both advertising agencies like bloomfield knoble, but more importantly, provide a better (more relevant) experience to the reader – and at the end of the day, that’s really what we want to accomplish.

 


 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

11 Mar 2015
Joe Isuzu

Trust me, I'm Google.

Stupid question, but I’m going to ask it anyway, have you Googled anything lately? Of course you have, everyone has. I mean, it’s Google. Duh.Joe Isuzu

At bloomfield knoble, we don’t just use Google, we study Google. We ponder, pontificate, process and a bunch of other fancy sounding “p” words about it. Why? Because we have to. Google is an essential component of our integrated marketing efforts at bloomfield knoble. We’re always worried about SEO and more often than not, we’re utilizing SEM as well (in addition to everything else we do that makes up integrated marketing). So when we hear something about Google – specifically that Google is doing something new that could affect the way we do things, our ears perk up and we pay attention.

As such, my ears (well, more my eyes since I was reading at the time) perked up when I saw an article by Hal Hodson in a recent issue of New Scientist. According to Hodson, Google is adapting their model.

The Internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free “news” stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness. Google’s search engine currently uses the number of incoming links to a web page as a proxy for quality, determining where it appears in search results. So pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. This system has brought us the search engine as we know it today, but the downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them.

A Google research team is adapting that model to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its reputation across the web. Instead of counting the incoming links, the system – which is not yet live – counts the number of incorrect facts within a page. “A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy,” says the team. The score they compute for each page is its Knowledge-Based Trust score. The software works by tapping into the Knowledge Vault, the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet. Facts the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable proxy for truth. Web pages that contain contradictory information are bumped down the rankings.

There are already lots of apps that try to help Internet users unearth the truth. LazyTruth is a browser extension that skims inboxes to weed out the fake or hoax emails that do the rounds. Emergent, a project from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, New York, pulls in rumors from trashy sites, then verifies or rebuts them by cross-referencing to other sources. LazyTruth developer Matt Stempeck, now the director of civic media at Microsoft New York, wants to develop software that exports the knowledge found in fact-checking services such as Snopes, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org so that everyone has easy access to them. He says tools like LazyTruth are useful online, but challenging the erroneous beliefs underpinning that information is harder. “How do you correct people’s misconceptions? People get very defensive,” Stempeck says. “If they’re searching for the answer on Google they might be in a much more receptive state.”

It becomes immediately obvious that establishing trustworthiness will become an integral (if not central) aspect of marketing campaigns in the future. Or (for those of you old enough to remember) you can go this way:


 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 Mar 2015
Joe Isuzu

Trust me, I’m Google.

Stupid question, but I’m going to ask it anyway, have you Googled anything lately? Of course you have, everyone has. I mean, it’s Google. Duh.Joe Isuzu

At bloomfield knoble, we don’t just use Google, we study Google. We ponder, pontificate, process and a bunch of other fancy sounding “p” words about it. Why? Because we have to. Google is an essential component of our integrated marketing efforts at bloomfield knoble. We’re always worried about SEO and more often than not, we’re utilizing SEM as well (in addition to everything else we do that makes up integrated marketing). So when we hear something about Google – specifically that Google is doing something new that could affect the way we do things, our ears perk up and we pay attention.

As such, my ears (well, more my eyes since I was reading at the time) perked up when I saw an article by Hal Hodson in a recent issue of New Scientist. According to Hodson, Google is adapting their model.

The Internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free “news” stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness. Google’s search engine currently uses the number of incoming links to a web page as a proxy for quality, determining where it appears in search results. So pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. This system has brought us the search engine as we know it today, but the downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them.

A Google research team is adapting that model to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its reputation across the web. Instead of counting the incoming links, the system – which is not yet live – counts the number of incorrect facts within a page. “A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy,” says the team. The score they compute for each page is its Knowledge-Based Trust score. The software works by tapping into the Knowledge Vault, the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet. Facts the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable proxy for truth. Web pages that contain contradictory information are bumped down the rankings.

There are already lots of apps that try to help Internet users unearth the truth. LazyTruth is a browser extension that skims inboxes to weed out the fake or hoax emails that do the rounds. Emergent, a project from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, New York, pulls in rumors from trashy sites, then verifies or rebuts them by cross-referencing to other sources. LazyTruth developer Matt Stempeck, now the director of civic media at Microsoft New York, wants to develop software that exports the knowledge found in fact-checking services such as Snopes, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org so that everyone has easy access to them. He says tools like LazyTruth are useful online, but challenging the erroneous beliefs underpinning that information is harder. “How do you correct people’s misconceptions? People get very defensive,” Stempeck says. “If they’re searching for the answer on Google they might be in a much more receptive state.”

It becomes immediately obvious that establishing trustworthiness will become an integral (if not central) aspect of marketing campaigns in the future. Or (for those of you old enough to remember) you can go this way:


 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.