Pages Navigation Menu

Visualizing food monopolies

Posted by on Dec 12, 2014 in Data Visualization, Media and Markets | Comments Off on Visualizing food monopolies

Visualizing the relationships between a handful of major food conglomerates and their underlying brands has been done very neatly by Oxfam International in this graphic. The graphic details how only a few corporations control most of the available brands in groceries, and focuses on 10 of the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever, Danone, Mars, Mondelez International, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Nestle, and Associated British Foods. Oxfam calls these companies the Big 10 and details their environmental impact on a website devoted to the nonprofit’s “Behind the Brands” campaign.

Oxfam reports that the Big 10 emitted 263.7 million tons of greenhouse gas in 2013. If the companies were a nation, they would be the 25th biggest polluter in the world.


Read More

Social media data not representative?

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Data Visualization, Datamining, Media and Markets | Comments Off on Social media data not representative?

As always, I continue to be fascinated by the rise of social media data usage, its centrality as a data source in so many social science research projects over the past few years, and even how the huge volume of data that social media produces has challenged our existing analytical tools. The latter issue will be the topic of a future post, but for now, I would like to note a recent study that has not yet been published in full, but only as a “commentary” by a team of McGill University and Carnegie Mellon researchers. This study, briefly described here, suggests that the use of social media data as a proxy for a representative sample, is problematic. This will come as no surprise to anyone versed in sampling theory, but even so, the rise of the “big data” movement, and the assumption that large samples will approach a “census” and therefore come quite close to a representative sampling effort, is getting questioned in this work.

Social-MediaThe study authors note that social media has been a “bonanza” for researchers, because the data has often been readily available, but although “fast and cheap” it could also be ultimately misleading. Thousands of academic and industry studies have been published that rely on social media data streams as sources, but these should really be regarded as convenience samples, and not necessarily representative, regardless of how massive the number of observations reported in the data stream used for analysis.

Not everything that can be labeled as ‘Big Data’ is automatically great,” Pfeffer said. He noted that many researchers think or hope that if they gather a large enough dataset they can overcome any biases or distortion that might lurk there. “But the old adage of behavioral research still applies: Know Your Data,” he maintained.

Another observation: “As anyone who has used social media can attest, not all “people” on these sites are even people. Some are professional writers or public relations representatives, who post on behalf of celebrities or corporations, others are simply phantom accounts. Some “followers” can be bought. The social media sites try to hunt down and eliminate such bogus accounts half of all Twitter accounts created in 2013 have already been deleted but a lone researcher may have difficulty detecting those accounts within a dataset.

This debate points back to a larger issue, though. As much as the global media and marketing research community has moved to an online research model, using panels, and abandoning probability sampling models — and recognizing the data quality sacrifices there — we are now seeing a transition to “using available data” such as social media traces, as indications of behavior and preferences. The “law of large numbers” does not apply here, even if we wish it did. Most fields are now struggling with how to integrate data from social media and other available sources of interaction. This study is one of the first to demonstrate how we should question these sources, and how the “fast and cheap” may not be an adequate substitute for quality data collection.

Read More

Will “Daily Deals” Save Newspapers?

Posted by on Jan 11, 2014 in Blog, Media and Markets | Comments Off on Will “Daily Deals” Save Newspapers?

dailydeals?Groupon is Hastening the Demise of the Newspaper Industry,? wrote a trade publication in April 2011.?? However,?? some newspapers are betting that ?daily deal? offerings could reinvigorate the industry.?? Newspapers are turning to startups such as?? Shoutback and Nimble Commerce?? and others offering consulting and white-label systems to power deal mechanisms. And newspapers have other things many other Groupon clones don?t ? large local audiences that are still used to turning to newspapers for coupons,? and a sales force with established local relationships.

Reportedly,?? The Boston Globe is offering its own? Boston Deals promo after? trying a partnership? with BuyWithMe last year (and SCVNGR, also last year)? as it? moves to separate? its online content from a potentially more lucrative e-commerce business.??? Boston Phoenix? offers? deals,? Star Tribune? in the Twin Cities offers STeals.

The struggle newspapers have had in recent years to make money from their content is obvious to all.?? Paywalls,???? apps, etc., have all been attempted.

But newspapers have failed to leverage the single most important advantage they have over the emerging media types:???? local audiences and local sales relationships.?? An intelligent ?Daily Deals? offering could be the key.???? The Globe, Phoenix and Star Tribune have each come out with their own versions of this play. Or they could aggregate local deals from Groupon and its numerous clones, Yipit-style.?? ((These last observations are from MIT?s Advertising Lab?s excellent blog.)

Has any newspaper actually tried to recapture the classifieds business from Craiglist????? Newspapers ought to be able to offer online classifieds with more power and usability than the Craigslist version, with a little planning and proper research.

In the past year I?ve spent a lot of time talking to local businesses in southern California and trying to understand their experience with the ?Groupon? concept, which many have tried and abandoned.?? The reason??? Yes,?? ?daily deal? promos bring business in the door,?? but sporadically and often at a loss to the retailer.?? Local businesses have not figured out how to capture the Daily Deals crowd and turn them into reliable repeat customers, and that is something that newspapers will need to consider if they plan on competing in this deal space.?? Newspapers could step into this void and help local businesses profit from Daily Deals, thereby strengthening their own brands and relationships.

Read More

H&M and computer-generated catalog models

Posted by on Mar 8, 2012 in Blog, Media and Markets | Comments Off on H&M and computer-generated catalog models

Even fashion models are being disintermediated.? Some catalogs trade lavish description for models (notably,? J. Peterman) while others keep the idea of human models,? but save on the pesky expense of photo shoots by computer-generating the women.? At H&M,? skin, hair and eye color are changed with the click of a mouse to give the impression of many different models.

Market research has long shown that people look first and longest at other people.? In catalog marketing,? the exact items in the colors worn by the model nearly always sell most.? Will we continue to be as fascinated by facsimile humans as we are by each other?

Read More

Physibles and the future of brands

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012 in Blog, Data Visualization, Emerging Science and Technology, Media and Markets | Comments Off on Physibles and the future of brands

Brands have a psychological reality in that they provide differentiation for goods that might otherwise be seen as interchangeable commodities.? I give you vodka, salt, and baking soda, as pertinent examples.

The advent of 3-D printers in recent years, though,? introduces a possibility that branded goods may have less utility in the future.? The Pirate Bay,? already a source of downloadable content of all types (some of it probably of dubious legality) has created a new category of downloadable content containing the code for producing items on 3-D printers.? Once goods become “content” and can be produced by anyone,? what happens to brands? The ability to easily turn digital content into a physical object changes the marketing premise. Nicknamed “physibles”? over at the Pirate Bay,? these digital blueprints lead the way to a nearby future in which “…you will print your spare parts for your vehicles. You will download your sneakers within 20 years.”

Read More

Augmented Reality Glasses

Posted by on Jan 15, 2012 in Blog, Data Visualization, Emerging Science and Technology, Media and Markets | Comments Off on Augmented Reality Glasses



Daily Mail: “Translucent TV: Lumus’ PD-18-2 is a set of spectacles that can beam high-quality images directly into your eyes but allows the user to see through the images too.”


Read More