Tag: research

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

So did you really like our ad?

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

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

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

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

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

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


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

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

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

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

 

23 Sep 2015
brain

Let's Agree (in advance) to Disagree

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

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

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

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

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

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


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

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

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

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

 

 

 

23 Sep 2015
brain

Let’s Agree (in advance) to Disagree

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

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

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

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

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

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


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

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

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

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

 

 

 

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
twitter
linkedin_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
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 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.

18 Jun 2014
market research

Marketing Research and Analysis

I can always tell when a client has read the Steve Jobs biography, because it usually generates comments like, “market research isn’t necessary” and “we should go with our gut” or my favorite, “the customer doesn’t know what they want until we give it to them.” Um, OK. First of all, Steve Jobs didn’t create things in a vacuum. He observed what existed in the marketplace and used his amazing intuition to revise products that reinvented user interface – thus generating demand. There were cell phones before Steve Jobs. There were tablets before Steve Jobs. Yes, Apple is amazing and yes, they redefine the experience for consumers, but I assure you that somewhere, once upon a time, Motorola did market research to figure out that people would pay money for a mobile phone.

Market research does matter; it is necessary. So much so, that it’s the first step in the R.U.D.E. process here at bloomfield knoble. Let’s start with the basics – marketers perform research to gain insight into the needs, desires, perceptions and preconceptions of their customers. They then use that insight to improve their decision-making and to achieve better outcomes. This is important because we (agencies and companies alike) sometimes think we know better what the public thinks or what our market is like than we actually do. One of the misconceptions about market research is that every decision requires market research. While I think that every decision requires research it doesn’t have to be full-blown market research. At bloomfield knoble, we have a research system in place that is constantly gathering information so that when we have to make decisions, that information is at our fingertips, at the right time, with the right kind of data. Occasionally, a decision needs to be made where research won’t have been done and the data won’t be available. When that happens, it’s time for market research.

I’m going to go a bit out of order from traditional thinking and skip past research methods and design (for now), because I think it’s important to understand the stages of research in order to formulate an appropriate research objective:

Stage 1 – Specify Research Objective: what are we trying to find out?

Stage 2 – Research Design: what kind of data do we need to collect?

Stage 3 – Research Methods: Usually defined by the kind of data we need to collect, but need to understand how our research method will determine our objective and vice versa.

Stage 4 – Collect Data: The actual execution of the research.

Stage 5 – Interpret Data: This is where the nerd jokes begin. On the surface, it seems obvious – what did the data say? The truth, however, is that data can be interpreted a lot of different ways (I mean a lot of different ways). If we’ve done a good job putting together the objective and the design, then the questions we want answered should be answered. However, data gathered often influences other decision making processes.

Stage 6 – Prepare Reports: Final product of the report.

Even though “reports” are the last step, to us at bloomfield knoble, they are often the first step. It is important for us to understand how our clients need to receive the information. If I had my way, I would just deliver spreadsheets with data points, but if that doesn’t help our client in their decision-making process, then the entire market research project won’t be effective or impactful to them. If a client wants to see pie charts, then we know ahead of time how to structure the research to achieve delivery the way clients expect. It’s not just about client service, it’s about recognizing that not every company approaches the decision making process the same 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.

 

 

27 Feb 2014
market research

Understanding the stages of marketing research.

Research is one of the most important things we do at bloomfield knoble. In many cases, it’s the first thing we do when working with a new client or project. In fact, it’s the R in our RUDE system, which is why it’s so important that we get it right.

Let’s start with the basics – marketing research is the collecting of data to help us gather information to help us make decisions. If we know the information and we could make decisions without that information, we wouldn’t have to do research. Marketing research isn’t about gathering information for information’s sake (I’m looking at you big data), it’s about gathering information to help us make decisions. There are two categories for methods of research – primary and secondary. Primary research is original research you perform yourself or hire someone to do for you. Secondary research involves gathering information from either industry and government reports, or internal company historical data. At bloomfield knoble, we engage in both types, but since we have the internal skills and resources, we utilize primary research whenever possible. In fact, bloomfield knoble has been hired to conduct marketing research and analysis for other agencies. Secondary research can also be quite invaluable, and cost-effective. If you have the skills to convert data to information, then this may be the way to go.

Since research is the basis of what we do at bloomfield knoble, it’s vital that we follow a detailed process to clearly define our goals and objectives:

Step 1. Specify Research Objective. 

Quite simply, what are we trying to find out.

Step 2. Research Design.

What kind of data do we need to collect? Is there secondary data available?

Step 3. Research Methods.

Think about how our research method will determine our objective and vice versa.

Step 4. Collect Data.

Utilize the defined research method to carry out research.

Step 5. Interpret Data.

To me, the most dangerous step, because data can be subjective. Nevertheless, how do we plan to use the data to develop information?

Step 6. Prepare Reports.

The deliverable.

These steps seem linear, but they are actually intertwined. For example, even though it’s the last step, we really need to think about the deliverable first. What will the final deliverable be? Who is getting them? How do they want to receive them? At bloomfield knoble, many of our deliverables are actually intended for the creative department. They may be looking for a point-of-difference versus the competition, or topics that are considered vital by the target audience. The creative team then takes this information and converts it into creative messaging. Research is often the foundation for an integrated marketing plan – how we deliver the information, and when, are among the many benefits of marketing research and analysis.

We often forum ate our research objective with a consideration of stages two through five as well. It’s important to understand what kind of data will be most effective and what is the best research method we can use to get that data. Given the research method we use, what is the best research design? The answers to these questions lead bloomfield knoble to a more developed and refined research objective. Our goal in performing market research is to provide information that will help the decision-makers make better decisions. The more rigorous our methods are, the more useful our research results will be.


 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.