There are major problems with the way that sentiment and intent is presently being measured and reported: you need only scratch the surface a little bit to uncover the grim truth. The business problem that sentiment analysis solves is informing a manager, at a glance, not of only of the tone and vibe that his own employees are sending out there, but also how the public is responding to the policies and practices of the company in question. Can’t you do this qualitatively? Well sure – if you didn’t have the anchor-and-adjust function in your head, it would be just fine. And ‘normally’ functioning humans all suffer from the curse of anchor-and-adjust. The second business problem that effective sentiment analysis[…]

Considerable effort is going into quantifying the degree of which people paying attention to a medium. This is a big deal. Consider how many screens your average Gen Y’er is engaged with, simultaneously, on a Monday night. They could be watching videos on YouTube while watching MTV while tweeting their friends on their iPhone. There are reinforcing mechanisms here. For instance, getting hit with Stella Artois The Life Legere commercials both on the Comedy Network during a commercial break while getting hit with it on a pre-roll from the Onion News Network. Lately those commercials have been appearing on the fourth screen – the movie theater – during the pre-roll. Seniors are up to it too: reading the newspaper while[…]

The purpose of personas (or Personae in the sarcastic English) is to impart empathy in design. The purpose of market segments vary depending on who you’re talking to. If you’re talking to a marketing science analyst, they should tell you that the purpose of a market segment is to use variations in self-referential communities to adjust the marketing message (positioning)  so that it is more relevant to a particular audience, ultimately resulting in higher profits for the business. Put another way, a market segment should, ideally, impart empathy in quantitative marketing design. Personas are traditionally the product of qualitative insights. Market segments are traditionally the product of quantitative insights. Institutionally, neither side really wants to listen to each other. (In[…]

It’s summer event today at CM Toronto. It’s normally a very good day. As with anything, the 80/20 rule applies to it. We have a town hall, where a member of the executive comes and presents. It’s actually really good. When I started out as an analyst, the only time I was ever really fully brought up to speed (I felt) was during these presentations. Things have long since changed for Marketing Science folk. Then there’s some component of field trip or activity fun. Those are always fun. And then there’s an evening of more fun – typically featuring Captain Morgan. What I value most is getting to really talk to people from the other offices. So often, they’re voices[…]

You might recognize the chart below as the Technology Adoption Lifecycle – and it’s just great. The essential fact is that who you market to, over time, and how you market it, changes over time. I have many friends who are true “innovators” and I know a few people who are impostors. (They really don’t have a business problem to solve, but they would like to see a desired solution set be imposed on people, even if it doesn’t produce any value.) Innovators believe everything should be free, and rightfully so, since they’re working on improving the product. Many of my friends in this category behave more like actuarial industry insiders than anything else. There’s such a brutal rate of[…]

Clusterfucks will happen, and nobody ever really walks away from one a winner. A clusterfuck can be turned around by either boosting trust, hitting ‘reset’ when it comes to definitions, deliberately seeking out extra understanding, or, if there’s a hollow core of authority – electing a leviathan to run the group. Clusterfuck avoidance is going to be a major social technology as knowledge worker teams become increasingly interdisciplinary. More problems are bound to happen because the complexity in terms of communication and the specifics of professional norms scales. Just as an example, if a chemist tells the engineer that temperatures from the mix could trough at -200 c, and asks the engineer if the structure could be designed to handle[…]

Another key reason why clusterfucks appear is because somebody with the authority wants them to appear. Stalin is said to have purposely given his cabinet conflicting portfolios to paralyze them: essentially giving him a free hand to denounce them and go about doing what we wanted to anyway. We have all observed similar situations where very brilliant people will purposely ask a team of people, none of whom have the authority to make any lasting decisions, to execute some task. Even if communication is good and trust exists among the participants, the very nature of the power vacuum is bound to cause a clusterfuck unless the team anoints an interim leviathan. It’s exceedingly rare. It is entirely possible that some[…]

If you’ve been attending the Web Analytics Association Research Committee calls, you’ll know that I’ve been troubled by this question of a ‘common data set’. As it is right now, data that is common, clean, and relevant to web analytics is rare. To be sure, there are heaps of open source log files (I believe the Wiki Foundation made 5 terabytes available for download awhile back), but in terms of there being some manageable CSV file out there – it’s pretty rare. Such a dataset is pretty useful from a few perspectives. For one, it would enable researchers within our community to use a verifiable data source when making assertions about the importance of different metrics. I’m dissatisfied with what[…]

Sometimes even when people trust each other, information can still get garbled through faults in communication. Very frequently, professionals in a given field will begin using a very specific jargon. For instance, the term “unique” means something very different to a web analyst than it does to a fashion designer. These shortcuts in language serve a really important purpose within a profession, and the specificity and unity on that jargon is a key feature of any given culture. When two professions need to work together, in an inter-disciplenary way, it is very easy to miscommunicate important findings, purely through mistakes in language. Sometimes, something as simple as messing up the difference between ‘pageviews’, ‘visits’, ‘visitors’ and ‘unique visitors’ can have[…]