Tag: Technology

09 May 2016

Qubits—Not Qbert

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

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

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

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

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

Check it out for yourself.

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


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

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

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

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.

15 Feb 2016

True Artificial Intelligence Closer to Reality

I, for one, welcome our new computer overlord.

I’ve seen enough movies to know that an Artificial Intelligence will rule the planet some day. While these usually end up going pretty poorly for humans (The Matrix, Terminator), I’m hoping that a pro-AI article (most likely being read by the AI) will allow me a position in the new world order. Perhaps bloomfield knoble can be the agency promoting the excellence and benevolence of our wise, yet still humble, AI ruler?

Why the sudden shift on the AI spectrum? It’s because the evil geniuses at Google DeepMind, along with equally evil geniuses at the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) at the University of Montreal, have created a machine that beat the European champion at the ancient game of Go and mastered several video games from the Atari 2600. While that may not seem a huge deal (I mean, really, Space Invaders wasn’t that challenging – I totally mastered it after 3 years of constant play), the face that the team just created an artificial intelligence that can navigate 3D mazes (think Doom) is.

According to a recently published article, the team proposes “a conceptually simple and lightweight framework for deep reinforcement learning that uses asynchronous gradient descent for optimization of deep neural network controllers. The best performing method, an asynchronous variant of actor-critic . . . succeeds on a wide variety of continuous motor control problems as well as on a new task involving finding rewards in random 3D mazes using a visual input.” In plain language, they just invented a machine that can play a game by looking at the screen. This really should be written like, JUST BY LOOKING AT THE SCREEN!

From a science perspective, this is a big deal because it was generally believed that the combination of simple online reinforcement learning algorithms with deep neural networks was fundamentally unstable. Most research in this area focused on the idea that the sequence of observed data encountered by an online reinforcement learning agent is non-stationary and online reinforcement learning updates are strongly correlated. By storing the agent’s data in an experience replay memory, the data can be batched or randomly sampled from different time-steps. Aggregating over memory in this way reduces non-stationarity and decor relates updates, but at the same time limits the methods to off-policy refinfocement learning algorithms. The authors instead present a very different paradigm for deep reinforcement learning. Instead of experience replay, they asynchronously execute multiple agents in parallel, on multiple instances of the environment. This parallelism also decor relates the agents’ data into a more stationary process, since at given time-step the parallel agents will be experiencing a variety of different states. This simple idea enables a much larger spectrum on fundamental on-policy reinforcement learning algorithms to be applied robustly and effectively using deep neural networks.

From a still-kind-of-science-but-what-does-that-mean-to-me perspective, this is a big deal because the results show that stable training of neural networks through reinforcement learning is possible with both value-based and policy-based methods, off-policy as well as on-policy methods, and in discrete as well as continuous domains. The experiments tested for the paper were just to show the proof of their concept. By combining other existing reinforcement learning methods or recent advances in deep reinforcements learning with asynchronous framework presents many possibilities for immediate improvements to the methods they presented. Basically, the team just made AI go from a pre-teen to a teenager and gave the blueprint for how it can head off to college to grow into a gracious and generous AI ruler who remembers, and rewards, the people that spoke positively about it during it’s awkward stages of puberty.

PS – In analyzing the data results in the paper, several data points were measured against a human (how well the human scored vs. the machine plotted over time) and it occurred to me that someone’s job at Google DeepMind is to play Atari 2600 video games for many, many hours on end. This really should be written like, GETS TO PLAY VIDEO GAMES. On the incredibly off-chance that anyone at Google DeepMind reads this, please keep me in mind for future reinforcement learning projects that involve humans playing video games. I assure you that I will put in as many hours as necessary to help you in the name of science. Thank you.


 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.

21 Jan 2016

The Branding Genius of Amazon Dash

First and foremost, let me make a confession: I’m pretty lazy. In fairness to me – as well as a desire to keep my job here at bloomfield knoble, I’m actually only lazy at some things – more specifically, things that I don’t consider important like: what I wear; what consumer goods I buy; consumption choices, etc. While this makes me an eternal source of frustration to my wife – it also makes me the perfect consumer for most advertising campaigns.

Agencies like bloomfield knoble work very hard to make sure that advertising campaigns capture and hold consumers through the entire sales cycle. Ads are designed to generate awareness among a relevant target audience. The message (hopefully) is engaging enough to drive action right then and there. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case, so additional efforts are used to convert the consumer into a buyer (usually incentives) and then (again, hopefully) the consumer is so thrilled with their purchase that they become loyal customers. In today’s world of social media, the really great hope is that the loyal customers also become advocates for the brand. It seems pretty straight-forward. In fact, bloomfield knoble recently completed a campaign for a brand of milk that fit this model.

Most people are aware of milk, so we didn’t have to sell the category, but we did need to promote awareness of this particular brand of milk – and the features that made it unique among other types of milk – which we did through a variety of tactical advertising. This particular milk is mostly beneficial to kids, so we targeted parents of school age children and gave a reason to believe that was relevant to their concerns. An incentive was offered on packaging to drive conversion which also drove further brand interaction to generate loyalty and advocacy at the same time. The campaign was very successful by every key performance indicator measurement that had agreed to prior to the campaign. the great part about a campaign like this is that it even worked on lazy people – like me. I pay little attention to advertising – relevant or not – and am very rarely engaged enough to take immediate action on a brand. I am, however, categorically motivated, so when we run out of milk (a dangerous situation in my household since my kid is a chocolate milk addict) I am off to the store. I have very little recall regarding brands, so instead of getting the one we always get, I just get whatever offers me the best incentive (price, gift with purchase, perceived health benefits, whatever). So in the case of the bloomfield knoble campaign, I would have been motivated by the incentive on the package and made a purchase.

There is plenty of debate and formulas to help define this media mix – what percentage should be in the form of an incentive vs. traditional advertising, etc., but generally speaking the process is always the same and it’s a tried-and-true method to drive sales. Until now.

In case you missed it, and not sure how you could have, the Amazon Dash system contains a WiFi link and, when activated, sends an electronic order to Amazon to replace a relevant product. For consumable products that use a device such as a coffee machine or water filter, the Amazon Dash system is used as a service (known officially as the Amazon Dash Replenishment Service, or “DRS”) and is seamlessly integrated into the device. For other consumable products such as toilet paper or sport drinks, a separate external button can be used to re-order supplies.

As a consumer, I’m thrilled. I don’t ever want to worry about laundry detergent again. I can buy a washing machine that stores detergent and whatever the other stuff that goes into laundry is and once in a whenever that stuff has to be loaded time is here – boom – it’s on my doorstep. Thank you Amazon.

As an employee of an advertising agency, I’m kind of freaking out. The number of people who, like me, make decisions on purchase in-store is staggering. Even with mobile devices and coupons and social media, the majority of people who shop (especially for commodity items, like groceries) make purchasing decisions in store. We have always relied on branding elements, like recall, and incentives (like coupons) to drive purchase, but now we’re faced with the challenge of all of that going away. It used to be that brands would compete within a category – a person shopping in store would turn down the laundry aisle and then make a decision between brands – but now the battle is going to shift to an entirely new arena. Now the battle is going to be to get consumers to buy a specific type of washing machine – which has cut a business deal with a detergent brand – in order to drive purchase.

It’s not much of a stretch to think that business development managers are going to become the most important employees at a brand. The person who cuts a deal for their detergent to be carried by a new Dash-enabled washing machine is a hero. Good luck, brand managers, trying to get consumers to reprogram their washing machine to order something different.

So, what do we do? First and foremost, agencies have to start incorporating Amazon Dash as a point of difference in their pitch – get to consumers early – even if it is outside of the normal comfort zone. Conversely, if you work for a brand that isn’t going to land an Amazon Dash deal, it’s time to start extolling the evil of having decisions made for you. Next, it’s time to come up with a new model in which loyalty is defined by category – not brand – and is at the front of the sales cycle. Traditional models start with awareness – but now the first consideration is going to be a new definition of loyalty (does the consumer have an Amazon Dash device?).

I’m not trying to walk around with a sign that says, “the end of the advertising world is here” because I can’t be sure that this concept will reach market saturation, but it is Amazon – not some startup – and there are plenty of lazy people, like me, who welcome this technology. As such, we at bloomfield knoble are already pondering it, and it’s quite possible that our clients are too. Now, if I just had a button that finished my work for me . . .


 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.

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
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.

27 Oct 2015
flipboard

Using data to enhance ad targeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

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

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

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

 

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

So did you really like our ad?

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

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

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

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

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

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


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

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

 

28 Apr 2015
Bond

Is this why people always ask me to play poker?

I’ll admit that my duties at bloomfield knoble don’t usually require me to read Evolution & Human Behavior – the official journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, but as a fan of poker, this abstract by Eugene Chan, University of Technology, Sydney, caught my eye:

Prior research has examined how sexual opposite-sex stimuli impact people’s choices and behaviors. However, it is largely unknown whether sexual same-sex stimuli also do so. This research reports an intriguing phenomenon: men who see attractive males take greater financial risks than those who do not. An evolution-based account is proffered and tested across four experiments. In evolutionary history, men have faced greater intrasexual competition in attracting women as a mating partner. Thus, when the average heterosexual man sees males who are more physically-attractive than he is, he is motivated to increase his desirability as a mating partner to women, prompting him to accrue money, and taking financial risks helps him to do so. This research concludes by discussing the implications of the present findings for men today who are constantly bombarded by not only sexual opposite but also same-sex others, such as images that are commonly used in advertising.

Fortunately, I found it while reading New Scientist – I don’t think I could add one more scientific journal to my current bloomfield knoble reading list. Basically, the study explains that in what seems to be a kind of compensating behavior, when heterosexual men see another man they perceive as being more attractive than themselves, they try to increase their wealth. They make high-risk, high-return decisions. Chan did four behavioral experiments involving 820 men and women. After being shown pictures of attractive men, the heterosexual men in the study were more likely to choose a riskier bet when given the choice than at other times, or than when shown a picture of an attractive woman.

In one experiment, some men were shown male models in Abercrombie & Fitch advertisements, while others were shown female Victoria’s Secret models. A third group were shown photographs of “average” looking people. The participants were then offered the choice of getting $100, or taking a bet where they had a 90% chance of getting nothing and a 10% chance of getting $1000. The men who saw male models were more likely to choose the risky bet than the men who were shown female models or mere mortals. And no difference was seen in the behavior of the women.

The effect was greater in participants who rated the models as “more attractive” than themselves, suggesting the risk-taking was an attempt to compensate for perceived inferiority. And there was a bigger effect when the men were in a “mating mindset,” imagining wooing a woman.

“This financial risk-taking occurs because men want to appear more desirable to women, and having more money is one way to do so,” says Chan. “Taking financial risks is one quick way to get more money, even if it might not be a sure thing.”

Bill von Hippel of the University of Queensland in Australia says the results highlight an aspect of male mating behaviour that people tend to forget. Before attracting females, the men need to compete with other males for access to them, he says. So does taking these kinds of financial risks work? “I guess the idea that money can be helpful for men who are less attractive is evident in many TV shows and movies, ” says Chan. “But yes, one can also say that taking greater financial risks can be a stupid way to go, since it might not necessarily make more money. In fact, you might lose money.”

As a member of the advertising community, the results of this are not surprising to me. When was the last time you saw someone unattractive in an ad for, well, anything? However, I will admit that I had always perceived the use of attractive models in financial marketing to be more aspirational (I want to be that guy / girl) instead of promoting risk. Financial services is a core competency for us at bloomfield knoble. Much of our work lately has been about loss mitigation (helping people avoid foreclosure, for example), so we’re actually trying to do the exact opposite of what this study says – we want people not to take risks.

This study has got me thinking about how we use visual information to relay a decrease in risk without using “fear” as is traditionally used in mitigating risk (smoking-in-bed-kills-people ads come to mind). It’s easy to forget how powerful visuals can be when developing creative when you have a specific call-to-action in mind. Chan agrees. Chan says he can imagine banks or casinos using this information to encourage riskier behavior. “But I can also see policy and government officials counteracting this with stricter regulations regarding advertising.”

So there’s nothing like the sight of a rival to embolden a man, it seems. If you want a straight man to make a riskier play in poker, you should consider getting a hot guy to sit with you. This must be why my friends always ask me to play poker.


 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.

 

 

16 Feb 2015
adwords logo

Fighting bad advertising practices on the web.

adwords logoEvery once in a while something comes across my computer here at bloomfield knoble that reminds me of  just how big online advertising really is.

Last week I was reading Inside AdWords, Google’s official blog for news, tips and information on AdWords, and I saw the number 524 million. I read this blog, and a lot of other articles about AdWords, because online marketing is a core competency for us at bloomfield knoble. We believe that marketing or advertising campaigns are made better by taking an integrated approach. We work hard to build brand equity across a variety of platforms, including online, search, radio, TV, print and, depending on client, mass, in-store, out-of-home, etc. I tell you this so you know, that we at bloomfield knoble know online advertising.

Anyway, the blog entry is titled, “Fighting Bad Advertising Practices on the Web – 2014 Year in Review” by Vikram Gupta, director, ads engineering for Google. In the article, Gupta writes that Google disabled more than 524 million bad ads and banned more than 214,000 advertisers in 2014. Think about that for a minute – 524,000,000 ads were banned from Google. Five hundred . . . twenty four . . . (insert Dr. Evil voice here) MILLION ads. This shocked me for two reasons. The first is that if we figure, just a guess, that 10% of ads are bad, then that means there are about 5 billion ads running on Google. They next time a client asks why we need so much demographic information, I’m going to remind them that we’re competing with 5 billion other ads. The second is that, in my naiveté, I didn’t know that scam artists would put the effort into creating bad ads. I mean, how much money is there to be made in a weight loss scam that a person would go through the effort to set up an account – build creative – manage the process – and everything that goes into getting an ad seen by a potential customer? Some clients say it feels like pulling teeth to get any budget for online advertising, and here are a bunch of bad advertisers churning out 524 million ads. I mean, really?

According to Google, “We work hard to keep our advertising ecosystem clean for users, advertisers, and publishers, and continue to invest substantial resources to stop bad advertising practices. We have a team of analysts who work around the clock to protect users, and continue to hone our detection technology to identify bad ads and stop bad actors as it’s a vital part of keeping our ads ecosystem clean. As an example, last summer our analysis technology flagged a set of accounts as suspicious. To the human eye, the ads looked like ordinary rental property ads that met our policies. After we dug in deeper, we discovered that the system was right to be suspicious – the vacation rentals turned out to be a scam and the rental properties didn’t exist. Our systems learn from incidents like these, helping us more effectively catch and remove bad ads and advertisers. For the past several years, we’ve shared insight into our efforts to fight bad actors on the web. Today, we’re sharing new data on how we fought bad advertising practices over the past year. Overall, we disabled more than 524 million bad ads and banned more than 214,000 advertisers in 2014. While this represents a tiny fraction of the total ads on our platform – the vast majority of advertisers follow our policies and act responsibly – we continue to remain vigilant to protect users against bad advertising practices.”

Thank goodness.

Google_BadAds_Infographic_Feb02-Final


 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.