Tag: marketing

30 Nov 2017
randy-skattum-headshot

Interview with Randy Skattum, Celanese – Global Marketing Communications Director

I find that most people have a path or at least a pattern to their careers that are, of course, easier to see when looking back on it or from an outside vantage point. I enjoy interviewing people for this blog on careers and how they got where they are and what they do. I have to say that Randy’s path might appear less straightforward than most careers, but I do see a continued pattern of success and career risk-taking that is noteworthy in his journey. He most recently has been involved in Celanese’s efforts to integrate two acquisitions of companies based in foreign markets. We talked about the challenge and success of these integration efforts and I think there is a lot to learn from him in that arena.

celogo_02-2015

Randy and his team are responsible for accelerating the sales cycle with a focus on engaging clients – domestically and internationally – in a meaningful way to assist in driving commercial interactions. Celanese is a global chemical and polymers company that manufactures a wide range of material solutions used in many everyday items including automobiles, personal care products, electronics, paints and medical equipment. To quote a line from an old movie, The Graduate, Celanese does, “… just one word. Are you listening? … PLASTICS.” But really they do so much more. Here are some interesting responses from my interview with Randy:

 

Q: Who is your target audience?

A: Our audience is fairly diverse. It includes engineers, designers, and procurement professionals that need to choose the right materials within very defined specifications to create the components and parts of larger projects (e.g., trim pieces in automotive interiors, grips on hammers).

 

Q: How long have you been at Celanese? And, in the Global Marketing and Communications role?

A: I started in strategic marketing and new business development seven years ago. Following that role, I led the global business for our specialty derivative chemicals. I’ve been managing our Global Marketing and Communications efforts for the last four years.

 

Q: What are the key deliverables your team provides to the global sales force?

A: Simply stated, it is sales tools, sales training, customer engagement opportunities and content materials. But the difficulty in that task is providing a simpler process for Celanese employees to provide pertinent information to support complex conversations with our clients and potential clients. Our polymers portfolio is quite complex and materials can be used in – or modified – in multiple ways to address a wide range of operational, functional, or financial needs. We strive to make it as easy as possible for clients to find the right solution that they need, when and how they need it.

 

We reach our audiences in a number of ways: in person meetings, emails, trade shows and conferences and most recently in an online, video-based technical exchange forum that has been successful in the Chinese market.

 

Q: How do you reach your global audiences and maintain regular communications?

A: We reach our audiences in a number of ways: in person meetings, emails, trade shows and conferences and most recently in an online, video-based technical exchange forum that has been successful in the Chinese market. This new method allows people to learn about our solutions through short lectures and to also discuss the nuances of product requirements in a forum that can provide support for material selection. We strive to meet the customer in the way that works best for them.

 

Q: What did you do prior to Celanese, and how did it help you in your current role?

A: I worked in the strategic consulting world prior to Celanese. I found that by working with various companies and across industries that the core elements of marketing strategy translate regardless of product or service offering. It breaks down into three key elements:

  1. ROI – companies need to ensure that where they spend money they are providing a return to the bottom line.
  2. Marketing Strategy – understanding complexity of products offered, solutions required, and the situations that motivate a client to action.
  3. Sales Support – providing the frontline people with the process and materials to best communicate a company’s capabilities.

 

Q: Sounds like you had a great background for this role. Was there anything missing in your experience that you had to learn on the job?

A: Yes, the global nature of this job was new to me, my prior experience was U.S.-based.

 

The solution to integrate one new company let alone two new companies at any one time is always more elegant on paper than it is in actuality.

 

Q: Let’s talk about Celanese’s most resent acquisitions. What was the biggest challenge in taking on the integration of two different companies, in three different countries, at the same time?

A: The short answer to that question is people and processes. The solution to integrate one new company let alone two new companies at any one time is always more elegant on paper than it is in actuality. There are two highly linked processes in play in each integration, client integration and employee/staff integration. Client integration provides an excellent opportunity to cement and combine existing client relationship by offering more solutions and/or to simplify their purchasing processes. However, most companies need to realize it is easier to integrate customers than it is to integrate employees. Integrations with employees require managing both the systems people work under, the processes they follow, and the roles that define them and their contributions as an employee. The desire is always to maintain people – and their engagement – but that requires a lot of communication. We have worked hard to keep the employees as involved as possible in the integration process. Any company purchase will involve employee role revisions as companies often end up with job and customer overlap and the new role may require some specialization or rescaling to fit into the existing corporate structure.

Conversations with staff should include candid discussions on what is going away and admitting that not all answers are immediately defined. The process of integrating people as well as procedures requires learning from each company and integrating the best of both to provide customer engagement that makes the most sense.

 

Q: What advice would you give other Marketing and Communication Departments who are in the process of planning for integration of an acquisition into their existing business?

A: When integrating new companies and employees into your organization these three key things need to be understood:

  1. Everything you know about your company is BRAND NEW to the newly acquired staff. Institutional knowledge and how to provide value to the customer is a foreign language for both sides of the house and must be shared. A training session should be set up to train each other on history of the company, products and the why’s and how’s of each company’s processes. In other words – put things in context and help the acquired company to become an insider.
  2. Secondly we need to know and share what the end state of the merger looks like. Be as specific as possible and still maintain flexibility. What roles individuals will have in the new organization will become clearer as the integration efforts play out. It’s important to understand the solution will probably be some middle ground from each company that allows better customer and employee engagement.
  3. It’s very important to start integration as early as possible! Once due diligence is complete, Marketing Communications staff needs to be heavily involved. In many organizations Marketing Communications is a tertiary consideration in company acquisitions after due diligence. There are many reasons you should involve Marketing Communications early on. Things that need to be taken into consideration are:

 

  • How does the new company attract customers? How similar / dissimilar was your market place positioning?
  • What brands do they have? Will the brands be consolidated?
  • What trademarks are you purchasing? Are you planning to sell those products in new geographies? (New trademarks may be required in those new regions.)
  • What is their sales model (i.e., Direct, Distributor, Agent)? Who are their distribution partners and is there an overlap?
  • Does their brand development / marketing approach align with your company? What brand/marketing partnerships do they have? (Such as sport teams or naming rights.)

 

Q: What advice would you have for people who want to work their way up to your level of an international company?

A: I would say there are five actions that would help anyone progress in a Marketing Communications role in any company. They are:

  1. Take on complexity. Help to move complex situations forward by breaking them down into their critical elements and providing structure to generate a solution. Leverage your company’s core strategies and institutional knowledge.
  2. Remember that marketing should help to grow the company. Align to the vision and growth plan; support it and set your vision for how marketing can evolve to meet longer-term goals and objectives.
  3. Have a curiosity of products/processes and have a willingness to learn. Understand your business products and services. Visit with your customers and understand how they buy from your company. Ask questions; ask “why?”
  4. Recognize others have done this before and build strong relationships with people doing the same thing. Network, network, network.
  5. Take these actions to help your career:
  • Attend peer to peer events
  • Read or listen to books on tape
  • Absorb the communications from around your organization and know how other leaders are shaping their functions
  • Try marketing something that works in one place and apply it to another situation; translate the successes
  • Learn from your success and mistakes; rewrite your play book often
  • Get input from others including your direct reports
  • Take risks
  • Have a passion for the business

 

______________________________________________

 

Randy provides some really useful information for anyone trying to consolidate new acquisitions but even more insightful are his career actions steps above. It appears to me that he takes his own advice when it comes to his career path. The key thing I see that he has always done is to take smart, strategic risks. The fact that he was willing take the risk of stepping into a global role and learn all he could about Celanese, their products and the additional element of working around the world makes him a singularly unique marketer today. Fortunately, Randy is willing to share with others his path to success. He is often asked to speak at events because of his successes and ability to communicate a clear path for others in our increasingly global marketplace.

 

 


About the Author

luann-boggs-headshot

Luann Boggs is the Vice President of Business Development for bloomfield knoble. She works with new and existing accounts as a liaison between client and creative. Her favorite part of the job is meeting and working with interesting and intelligent people. Her personal interests are family, friends, good books and travel including all 50 states and over 25 countries.
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Who is bloomfield knoble?

bk 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, bk 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
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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.

13 Nov 2015
Google Cardboard

Behold Google Cardboard

I struggled to find time to write this blog  – not because I’m too busy at work, but because I’ve been too busy playing with Google Cardboard.

I had heard about Google Cardboard, but I’ve been more interested in Oculus Rift and similar devices and hadn’t given it much thought. Then, much to my surprise, I received a pair (set, maybe? not sure what the accepted term is just yet) courtesy of the New York Times. The pair (that’s what I’m going with) came with my subscription courtesy of GE in Sunday’s paper. Although I was surprised it was included with the paper, the box was clearly marked, so I was quickly aware of what it was. It was in its own packaging and it only took a few minutes to unfold (assemble). An instruction card directed me to download the NY Times virtual reality app (the URL is also printed on the side of the cardboard). The VR app installed quickly and then I was instructed to put my iPhone into the cardboard and enjoy.

Now, just in case you’ve never heard about it, Google Cardboard is a virtual reality (VR) platform developed by Google for use with a fold-out cardboard mount for a mobile phone. It is intended as a low-cost system to encourage interest and development in VR and VR applications.

GoogleCardboard
Jeff exploring VR with Google Cardboard

Here is my takeaway both personally and professionally. Personally, totally dig it. The device itself is, indeed, cardboard, but feels quite sturdy. I’ve used mine quite a bit and while I am generally careful with it, haven’t had any issues with it at all. I didn’t have any concerns about inserting my phone – it feels like it’s held securely – and although I need glasses to see up close, the screen seems in focus. I’m familiar with VR (I’ve written about it before), but hadn’t experienced it via my phone. The VR itself was excellent, but I recognized pretty quickly that this is because of the content. The NY Times had excellent content – both in subject matter and production – available the day I downloaded it. Their app focuses on news stories delivered via immersive video and audio. They brilliantly had a wide range of subjects which enabled me to both watch content that was relevant to me, but also waste time just checking out the different options. I also used it to view an ad – just to continue enjoying the experience.

This wasn’t just my take either – my family all found it cool as did people here at bloomfield knoble.

I think what the NY Times did was an excellent promotional use and one that could be repeated across brands and platforms, with the following challenges:

  • It worked because it was delivered to me. If I had to fill out a form or pay for it, I probably wouldn’t have messed with it. I think it’s an excellent promotional handout or direct mail device.
  • It was new to me, so I downloaded the app to play with it, but I’m not motivated to download a bunch of other apps to use it. This is actually really good news for the NY Times, because they made me loyal to their app – so anytime I want to show it off or mess around with it, I use their app.
  • It’s all about the content. The NY Times content is excellent and also being freshened. If this came with 1 piece of content, I would have tossed it once I got bored. If this were to be used for promotional purposes, it would either have to be a one-off (which is fine sometimes), or it will have to be supported by ongoing content (also fine sometimes).
  • It’s still just cardboard. I’m being pretty careful with it now, but because I have no economic value associated with it, I am going to put it in a drawer and it will get damaged or broken. It’s like the cheap pair of sunglasses – you toss those around, but are careful with the pair that cost you money.
  • I’m not trained (yet… maybe never). I’m just not sure that I need to get my news via VR. I think that this is more of a content issue, because I might train myself to check the app regularly if it’s something that is experienced much better in VR – like the Royals victory parade, for example. That would be cool. If I know once a week or so that there will be something that is entertaining – I’ll start using it more. For now, just getting news stories, no matter how well done, doesn’t motivate me to regularly check the app.

Now, having said all that, it’s still a job really well done. More than half the battle is getting people to engage with a promotion – in whatever form – and the fact that I took time to assemble the unit, download the app, use the app and then share the experience is the very definition of a successful marketing campaign. And while it sits unused on my desk, it is still on my desk and the app is on my phone.


 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.

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
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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.

 

30 Sep 2015
john-hale300

John Hale III, Director of Department of Energy OSDBU Spills the Beans on How to do Business with the DOE and Successes of the Office

John Hale III, Director of Department of Energy Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)
John Hale III, Director of Department of Energy Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)

I had the pleasure of meeting John Hale III, Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), for the first time in Tampa in the summer of 2014. It was my first foray into the world of government contracting with the Department of Energy. The event was the restart of an annual meeting that had been put on hold due to budget cuts for a few years. The Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Forum and Expo was a great experience, so much so that I attended again this year in the sunny 115° dry climate of Phoenix in June. This event is an excellent opportunity to meet and talk with DOE Small Business Program Managers from all over the U.S. I highly recommend it to small businesses who want to get started working for the government. However, I must caution you that I’ve been repeatedly told it takes about 18-24 months from your starting point to get work with the DOE. And keeping my fingers crossed since I’m fast approaching that time frame, I hope that it is true. There are a plethora of interesting jobs of all sizes the DOE needs help with.

OSDBU Directors Panel at the 14th Annual Small Business Forum and Expo in Phoenix, AZ
OSDBU Directors Panel at the 14th Annual Small Business Forum and Expo in Phoenix, AZ

I’ve been most impressed with Mr. Hale and his staff when it comes to providing information and direction to a large audience of small businesses who want to do business with the Department of Energy. In June when I asked John for a Twitter picture he readily obliged and also agreed to let me interview him for this blog. He has a big job and yet is incredibly approachable and you can tell by talking to him he is both passionate about his work and good at what he does.

How long have you been the Director of OSDBU at the Department of Energy and in the Public Service sector?

I was appointed as the Director of OSBDU three years ago. Prior to that I was with the Small Business Administration (SBA) for a year and a half. Prior to that I worked on the 2008 Presidential Campaign.

What did you do prior to working in public service?

I worked primarily in the consulting and restructuring of mid-market private industry companies.

I found this on the Federal OSDBU website:

“The OSDBU is tasked with ensuring that each Federal agency and their large prime vendors comply with federal laws, regulations, and policies to include small business concerns as sources for goods and services as prime contractors and subcontractors.”

This is a big task. How does the DOE OSDBU differ or conform to this directive? How does the DOE OSDBU get this done?

We use a combination of in-reach and out-reach efforts to collaborate with small businesses and the DOE small business office staff and all DOE procurement office staff to attain our goals. We work internally with Federal and DOE data collection to train our staff and our prime contractors on a common ground in working together with small businesses. Additionally, our outreach efforts with the Regional and National Small Business Forums have had a positive impact.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s OSDBU presented 15 award recipients with awards at their annual Small Business Forum & Expo, held this year in Phoenix, AZ.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s OSDBU presented 15 award recipients with awards at their annual Small Business Forum & Expo, held this year in Phoenix, AZ.

Do you have any upcoming events you are providing to the Small and Disadvantaged Businesses you serve?

We will have our annual DOE OSDBU FY 2016 Kickoff meeting here in DC in the DOE Conference room on November 6, 2015.

We are also proud to be able to host the 15th Annual DOE Small Business Forum and Expo May 23-25, 2016 to be held in Atlanta.

I also found your Office Goal on the DOE website: “The OSDBU goal is to provide maximum practicable opportunities in the Departments’ acquisitions to all small business concerns. In doing so, the Department will meet/exceed statutory prime small and subcontracting goals.

What are the statutory prime small and subcontracting goals for the upcoming year, 2016?

Because of the nature of the work done at the Department of Energy with things like nuclear weapons and nuclear waste removal, our small business goals vary. DOE and every federal agency collaborates and negotiates with the SBA to establish our annual small business goals. This usually occurs in the first quarter of the fiscal year. Based on the forecast of projects for the upcoming year, these goals are typically set in late September or early October.

When we look at setting our goals, we look at how we can best advocate for Small and Disadvantaged Businesses (SDB). We also look at the number of dollars, as well as the number of companies and transactions we can open up for SDB. Sometimes that is directly with DOE but many times we find the opportunities are with our Prime Contractors.

Does the OSDBU report to DOE or to Small Business?

We report to the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Energy, Secretary Ernest Moniz.

What are the most important things the DOE OSDBU has accomplished?

In June of 2015, John Hale III served as the moderator for the Federal Contracting Town Hall Meeting during the CelebrAsian procurement conference.
In June of 2015, John Hale III served as the moderator for the Federal Contracting Town Hall Meeting during the CelebrAsian procurement conference.

I am proud of the work we have done in the last three years. Here are some accomplishments I think best represent the work we’ve been doing:

1. The OSDBU office was separated with our own budget in FY 2014, which allows us to better advocate for Small and Disadvantaged Businesses.

2. We were able to reinstitute the Annual Small Business Forum and Expo, a national conference that allows Small Business people to see Small Business Program Managers from the DOE, as well as Small Business Liaison Officers from Prime Contractors from all over the country, all in one place over the course of two and a half days.

3. We’ve also been successful in collaborating with our program offices for additional Small or Disadvantaged Business set asides, to the tune of between $500-600 million.

4. We recently collaborated with General Klotz at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for the awarding of a $250 million Small Business set aside award. The NNSA selected three small business led teams for its new Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure and Cyber Security Support Blanket Purchase Agreement. The contract covers a wide spectrum of IT and Cyber Security support for NNSA’s Office of Information Management.

5. We’ve also received an award from Fed Biz Ops for collaboration with Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for a partial Small Business set aside for 30-33% of a historically prime contract award.

How do you communicate these successes?

That is one of our next objectives – to tell the story. We need to share our process of doing business, making it both transparent and simple for the SDB we serve. We want to better communicate our outreach events and provide marketing information for the small disadvantaged business community.

What is the biggest challenge to your office?

The biggest challenges we face are:

1. Proactively aligning small business opportunities with our mission

2. Researching and developing resources for the 17 Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) locations. These are big laboratories and universities with often very technical requirements.

3. Finding small businesses to help with the highly specialized needs of both nuclear weapons and nuclear waste clean up projects.

At my very first session at the 2014 SB Forum, I remember the facilitator saying it typically takes between 18 months and two years to get your first business with DOE. Is that a statistic on track with your experience?

Yes, it is true; that is typical. A large part of that is the education process for small businesses to learn the system to find the jobs they are qualified for and then work within the timing of job awards. In the meantime it takes time to build trust with the people who will be managing the project. Just like any organization, the people awarding the projects want to mitigate risk by knowing the small business they work with and that that small business will do the job right. Sometimes contracting with a DOE prime contractor is the best way to get your foot in the door. That’s where the prime contractors can really be helpful in meeting our objectives and providing an entrance for small businesses.

Last but not least, what is the best piece of advice you can give a Small or Disadvantaged Businesses that is looking to start the process of getting business with the DOE?

I’m glad you asked, first I’d like to tell small disadvantaged businesses they need to figure out a way to make it easy for the DOE to work with them, show us how you can solve a problem for us. Here are some tips that will help:

1. Understand how to read budgets and see the agency priorities. That helps you understand where the money goes and how you can get involved.

2. Look at Audit Reports from the Inspector General (IG); see if something needs to be updated or fixed as indicated by the DOE IG. These reports provide the information for current DOE challenges.

3. Do your research. Look at the Federal Procurement Data System. This has a list of the last 12+ years of federal contracts. Put in your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes to see who buys your services and who received that last award. This gives you a name and indication of when the contract expires.

4. Then do more research. Know to whom you are targeting by looking up speeches from the agency’s Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Assistant Deputy Secretaries. You will be amazed what you learn.

5. Distinguish yourself from the other companies that provide your services.

Many thanks to John Hale for the time and information shared and for continuing to be the champion of small and disadvantaged businesses.


 About The Author

clark-bachelot-headshot

Luann Boggs is the Vice President of Business Development for bloomfield knoble. She works with new and existing accounts as a liaison between client and creative. Her favorite part of the job is meeting and working with interesting and intelligent people. Her personal interests are family, friends, good books and travel including all 50 states and over 25 countries.
Connect With Luann Boggs
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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.

 

 

25 Aug 2015
oculus

We have our Oculi on the rifts coming in 2016

oculusWas it  Erik the Red that said, “the times they are a changin’ so let’s go see if we can find us some Green/Iceland?”

No. I just wanted to make that reference in my blog to win a bet. Now, here is what bloomfield knoble (bk) has been studying the last few months, as we gauged where we need to direct client spending and our internal resources to focus on new technologies for advertising initiatives in 2016:

Foremost, search engine marketing (SEM) is going to get even more complicated. Surprised? Of course your not. For too long everyone has sat on their haunches placing buys on Google and calling it media planning and placement. Not that that was a bad thing, it just was too easy and not always effective. Through our efforts over the last two years, and our unique relationships with the folks at Facebook, Baidu, Twitter and other key market drivers, we have been at the front of the trend with our buys this past year. (Ahem. . . Our good friend, T-Bone, over at Google, notwithstanding.)

On the Western Front, it seems that our key strategist, Thomas J Thompson, has proven some of his theories that he started to muse upon in 2014. That “study hard” intensity, along with some intense training with IBM’s Watson and other analytical tools, has caused bk to tie in with the offerings of unique players including, but not limited to, Pandora and other app-based platforms. Of course, the one leads the other, not the other way around. Strong analytical research, data points and matching it to the right opportunities is what wins the day. But in my book, it’s the imaginative approach, hard work and curiosity that puts bk out in front when it comes to spotting and taking advantage of opportunities others wait to hear about in industry publications.

I teased you with the Oculus Rift (OR) headline, as if it is going to interrupt the advertising marketplace in 2015. Well, it won’t. However, it is pretty interesting and we are beginning to view it as a future opportunity that we need to gain real-time (yes, a pun) experience in the coming year and beyond. There are all types of scenarios being floated around, so if you have time, do a little more than reading my little blog. Let’s just say that product placement, unique experiential “commercials” and in-game, in-movie ads are going to get a crazy lift as that application platform grows. (Kind of scares me, what with my 1980’s upbringing, what OR is going to bring. I’m just glad I have much smarter folks around to explain it to me — very, very slowly.)

Next on the list? The big data opportunities seem to have no end now that humans are “self-tagging” themselves with every kind of device they can wear. That is why Watson and other new tools that make it possible to sift through the data make so much sense for our strategic teams to gain expertise in applying. The more that consumers “tag” themselves with watch/wrist devices, clothing, shoes, etc. that have the native apps built right into their daily lives, tracking everything consumers do from bathroom breaks to how much water they consume in a day makes sifting through it that much harder, but that much more rewarding.

Please don’t be afraid of those invasive tracking devices. (They scare me shitless, but I’m not a millennial.) In fact, it should be the opposite for those of you that are not paranoid like me. If I was not afraid of Big Brother, it would be nice when I go window shopping online. You see, I don’t like commercials or retargeting ads that I are not relevant to me. So, it is going to be so much better when all I see are ads for fishing adventures, vacations and college tuition coupons (I wish) because my apps know my habits and needs and only deliver advertising that is relevant to my life.

By the way, those new “digitally active” shirts and shorts slated for 2018 releases are going to really blow everyone’s mind. How will that become part of bk’s targeting algorithms? Well, you’ll need to check back for my 2017 blog, unless it gets pushed back to 2022. (I have heard that is a real possibility. The shirts and shorts, I mean.)

Of course, there will still be growth opportunities for SnapChat, Ello and Wanelo, but everyone knows that. Right?

This was just a reminder that bk knows more than we should, but not near as much as we will in a year. We don’t wait for someone to tell us about it because our clients trust us to get them in front of trends so they can reach their target audience in the most effective, economical and righteous way possible.

I don’t plan to let them down on my watch. Need an agency that is forward thinking, has nearly 20 years of success with Fortune 100s, takes everything personal and lives to succeed? Call me today and let me see if we are a right fit.


 About The Author

clark-bachelot-headshotEric J. Hirschhorn is a principal at bloomfield knoble. For 17 years he has helped lead the Dallas-based advertising agency from start up to becoming a premier, full-service agency whose clients include some of the most influential companies in America. Eric lives to spend time with his family, to work and to travel the world in search of unique fishing adventures.

Connect With Eric Hirschhorn
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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.

 

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
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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.

 

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.

 

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

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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.
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