The IBM Connect roadshow moves from Auckland to Sydney and then to Melbourne over the next few days. Come along and learn how you can turn data into business value.
Dating is big business. There are generic dating sites designed to help you find a date, a life partner or someone just to hang out with. There are also incredibly focused dating sites that are designed to introduce you to other people who have the same particular passions and interests as you. Maybe you are looking for a “sea captain” or perhaps you just hate it when Movember finishes and need to sate your passion for the tache. Whatever the case, if you look hard enough you’re bound to find a dating site designed just for people like you (yes, you crazy cat lady).
In many ways, the challenge of dating is the same challenge that marketers face. We’re all looking for that one-to-one connection – though often we struggle to a way to meet and start a conversation. In both cases (marketing and dating), digital disruption is creating both opportunities and challenges. And at the heart of this is data.
Inga Ting reveals that what we say in our dating profiles and what we want are often completely different. Dating sites – just like data-driven marketers – are less interested in “stated intentions” and more interested in actual behaviour. By looking at online behaviour – the things that we like, connect with, share and return to – marketers can adjust their profiling to reach and more deeply engage potential customers. This algorithmic approach relies not on focus groups and market research but on an adaptive approach which operates between your stated profile (self designed) and the actions you take online. In the world of online dating it means operating in-between spaces:
Behaviour-based matching is adaptive. It compares what you said you wanted with how you behave to work out things you might not even know about yourself.
For example, you said you wanted a partner with a steady income but you keep messaging “pro-bono computer game testers” and “freelance writers”, so the algorithm changes its recommendations.
But, of course, while there can be volumes of data about ourselves online – we are also highly visual. The rise of photo based apps like Tinder for example shows that sometimes dating (and even marketing) is only skin deep. Relying on your photo and your location information, Tinder matches people based on whether they are close and interested (you swipe a prospective date’s photo to the left to reject and to the right to connect).
For those who are serious about dating, perhaps a single app is not the answer. The “multichannel” approach that works for marketers may yield better results. Take for example, the data from Axciom’s infographic (ht Will Scully-Power) that reveals that, in Sydney:
- Single females outnumber males at all ages except the 18-24 age group
- Potts Point is home to the most singles
- Wine enthusiasts are most likely to reside in the Eastern and Inner West suburbs
If you were a male in the highly competitive 18-24 age group, a multichannel (or omnichannel) marketing approach to maximising your chances would include:
- Establishing your base profiles on high traffic sites
- Create a profile image that shows your passion for fitness and interest in fine wine (please be tasteful)
- Spend time in cafes in Potts Point using Tinder
Of course, you could pepper your profile with quotes from Shakespeare, but that may be overkill. Remember, that the algorithms will override your stated profile anyway – so your true intentions will always be revealed in the data – based on who you swipe right and who you swipe left, who you message, like and connect with. And like all good marketing, the question comes down to ROI, engagement and outcomes. I hope you get your algorithm right!
I love this infographic on various urban myths that permeate our modern existence. By author, David McCandless, it visualises some of the most Googled myths and misconceptions – with larger bubbles indicating that it is a common search term. Some of my personal favourites include:
- That you SHOULD wake sleepwalkers
- That bats are NOT blind
- There is no solid division between the LEFT and RIGHT hemispheres of the brain.
What surprises you?
I have a sneaking suspicion that the most successful call to action in the world is Forgot Password?. That small link that sits below a password field is my friend. After all, I have passwords for every blog, social media site, news sites, business sites, bank, retailer and online tool or cloud provider that I use. The use of passwords is, in itself, a personal big data challenge that I have yet to solve.
I have a password manager on my phone, some of which is current. Some outdated, and some automated. I have a list which I keep which is slightly unreliable – mostly because I fail to manage it scrupulously. I have randomly scrawled password scattered through notebooks I can no longer find. There is encryption for the cloud (which also requires some kind of key) and there is even fingerprint identification that works with iPhone 5 (which is actually pretty convenient – even if slightly scary in terms of identity management/theft/security/tracking).
So I was interested to check out the new password manager from There’s Only 1 U. Actually, it was the video that tipped me over. Produced with a great sense of self-deprecation, it captures the frustration that many of us feel when it comes to password management and online security. To be honest, it’s a scene too long, but it did the trick.
Is it useful? I’ll let you know after some hands on use.
First indications are positive
Like most password managers, there’s some pain up-front to set up your sites and accesses, but the long term gain is what is on offer.
The UI and step-by-step setup is relatively straight forward, though very wordy. I was able to easily use the phone’s camera to scan my face and setup the security. There is something reassuring about scanning your own face as a secondary form of authentication. And so far, I have not been able to trick the scanner by using a photo.
There is a good selection of websites, apps etc that can be easily and quickly configured for access. And it’s relatively easy to add your own custom sites using the same process. Of course, you can still use Touch ID or you can use the facial recognition engine.
But the question is traction. Will I use it again? Will I uninstall? Will I just forget about it? Ask me again in a week. In the meantime, register for the app here or get more information about it here on their website.
One of the most exciting and interesting projects I came across during my time working with IBM was the digitisation of the Vatican Library. A great humanist project, the Vatican Library was created during the Renaissance when books were literally hand crafted. Scribes, illuminators, binders and printers would work together to create objects that were as beautiful as the content.
It was Nicholas V (1447-1455) who decided that the Latin, Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, which had grown from 350 to around 1,200 from his accession to the time of his death (March 24 1455), should be made available for scholars to read and study.
On his death, Pope Nicholas V (1447-55) gifted his extensive personal library to the Vatican. Containing Latin and Greek codices as well as secret archives of the Popes, these three collections formed the basis of what would become the Palatine Library under Nicholas’ successor, Sixtus IV. A dark and damp space accommodating shelves, desks, benches and a growing collection, the knowledge contained in these spaces soon burst forth.
Under successive popes, the collection grew. Sixtus V rebuilt the library, adding frescos, large bright windows and benches. Of course, as was the custom of the time, each volume was held fast by a solid chain. There were strict rules about reading and copying but books were also loaned. The records of these loans are still in existence. They’d make fascinating reading in their own right.
But the flow and accumulation of knowledge could not be stemmed. This new, beautiful library was soon flooded, with books washing out of the main rooms and into hallways and adjoining rooms. The torrent could not be stopped. In fact, it was bolstered by the Pope himself. Pope Clement XI (1700-21), for example, actively acquired manuscripts and volumes from all parts of Asia, effectively establishing the Oriental Collection.
But not all these acquisitions were completely free of drama or controversy. One of Nicholas V’s first contributions to the library was the secret archives of the Vatican. Now covering over 1000 years of history, the Archivum Secretum Vaticanum separately houses a treasure trove of precious documents on 85km of shelving. Furthermore, some of the acquisitions have raised eyebrows over the centuries:
For example, the first 6 books of the ‘Annals of Tacitus’ were known to have been stolen from the Monastery of Corvey. In the early 16th century Pope Leo was able to acquire them, and fully knew the circumstances. In 1515 he made printed copies of the manuscript, and ‘graciously’ sent a set of the ‘printed’ books, specially bound, to the Abbot of Corvey. [You can now see translations of these on Wikipedia.]
This, of course, raises questions around ownership, copyright and ethics. But it goes deeper – to the root of power, knowledge and human experience. It impacts identity and community and touches our foundational institutions no matter whether they are educational, political or cultural in nature. Understanding the flow of this far reaching impact is how we identify the fact that we are living in a state of disruption. Elizabeth Eisenstein, in her discussion of the impact of the invention of the printing press outlined five impacts of this “new media”:
- Experts coming under pressure from new voices who are early adopters of new technology
- New organisations emerge to deal with the social, cultural and political changes
- There is a struggle to revise the social and legal norms — especially in relation to intellectual property
- The concepts of identity and community are transformed and new forms of language come into being
- Educators are pressured to prepare their students for the newly emerging world
Today, we face this same torrent of disruption. This time, instead of hard, physical and space-consuming books, the disruption is driven by the accumulation of data. But we don’t have the hand-picked curatorial power of the Vatican Librarians. We don’t have a carefully crafted, focused collection. We have a vast sea of bits and bytes loosely connected by strings of relevance, some social cohesion and meaning and an electricity and data grid that spans the planet.
Eric Schmidt from Google famously stated that we now create as much information in two days as we did from the dawn of civilisation up to 2003. A princely figure worthy of any Pope. The Vatican Library pales by comparison:
In September 2002 the new Periodicals Reading Room, where the most important material is available to readers on open shelves, was opened to the public. At present the Vatican Library preserves over 180,000 manuscripts (including 80,000 archival units), 1,600,000 printed books, over 8,600 incunabula, over 300,000 coins and medals, 150,000 prints, drawings and engravings and over 150,000 photographs.
The Vatican Library was conceived as a vast humanist initiative. And it is one that has stood the test of time. But in this push to digitise every aspect of our lives, I wonder whether we are missing something important. As Ben Kunz suggested, there is somethind deeply personal and decidely human about our relationship to books and knowledge.
@servantofchaos What worries me about tablets-cloud is will my Amazon account still be here in 20 years when I want to revisit Kevin Kelly?
— Ben Kunz (@benkunz) August 24, 2014
After all, our memories are deeply tied up with these dusty old objects that haunt our lives. And no matter how many blog posts or videos we produce, they never have as much impact as a table thumping tome. Just think, for example, how many businesses have disappeared or merged over the last 20 years. How many of them will still be here in 1000? Amazon may rise and fall, but I’d lay money on the fact that the Vatican Library will still be there in 3014.
I have never been a fan of demographic profiling. Sure, this information, at scale, can reveal certain things about a population – and this can be useful to understand whether there might be a connection between our age and (for example) our propensity to over-eat. Or contract disease. Or buy new cars every four years.
But populations don’t interest me. They feel like a dead weight around my sense of, and interest in, humanity. Instead, I prefer audiences – which is perhaps why I studied theatre rather than statistics.
It’s also why I am continually fascinated by digital technology and transformation – and it is why social media continues to attract the attention of people, corporations and governments. For digital transformation is not just about bringing the non-digital world online – it’s challenging the very nature of what we consider “our selves” to be.
As marketers, we are constantly drawn to the idea of demographics – the cashed up profiling of the Baby Boomers, the anxious, try-harder Gen X-ers and the slacker Gen Ys. But like any generalisation, these labels are easily unpicked. There are plenty of Baby Boomers who are slackers and plenty of cashed up, power wielding Gen X-ers. And Gen Y are just starting to flex their creative, financial and intellectual powers – and there is more goodness to come. Rather than simply relying on this style of profiling, we should be working harder to understand these audiences. We need to map their behaviours, attitudes and interests, not just their age, sex and location.
This is why I quite like the work that marketing automation firm, Marketo, has done on Generation Z. And while, yes, they have started out with the age-focused label, the research carried out by agency, Sparks and Honey, reveals the patterns of behaviour, interests, attitudes and insights that can help build a deeper understanding of this audience. While the data reflects a US-based audience, there are cultural parallels that are useful indicators such as:
- Do-Gooders – an interest in making a difference in the world
- Shift FROM Facebook – Facebook lost its allure when the parents arrived. Gen Z are embracing newer platforms like snapchat, secret and whisper
- Creation trumps sharing – Gen Z embrace the prosumer ethic of digital media creativity.
But to really understand this “Gen Z” audience, I would go further. I wouldn’t stop at the age of 19. I would ask:
- Why would my brand be relevant to audiences exhibiting these behaviours
- Why would these audiences choose to purchase my product/service/thing
- Which values embodied by my brand augments the life, behaviour, experience or purpose of this audience
- How do these behavioural profiles help me understand my customers regardless of age / demographics
And when it comes to planning, insight and future proofing your brand, I’d look to opportunities to self-disrupt your strategy. Ditch the path of lazy profiling, put the work in to really understand your audiences, and then invite them into the process of creating a brand that has a purpose. Start by delving into the data behind the Sparks and Honey research (below) – and then work on your own business by starting with the audiences you rely upon.