Popular Posts

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Just WHAT Is A Casual Gamer?

Hi folks,
Below find a brief, but important question raised by 2 senior exec's from top gaming companies, Tim Harrison of EA Mobile Europe, "
The reality is that it's a
more complex than that - there are certain types of people in certain
types of need states, and a gamer in one environment will have a very
different set of criteria to a gamer in another environment." Dr. Media says you could say this about ANYTHING on the net that people spend time on, like YOUTUBE--avg. 38 min, per trip. What NEED/S are being fulfilled?
That, says Dr. Media, is THE question which must be addressed and has not been.BUT, Dr. Media is working on it.
How to ascertain the needs that are being met, the emotional needs, that are being served a nontrivial question.
These fellows are on the right track, just don't know it, or do they?

Just WHAT Is A Casual Gamer?

are a booming sector of the gaming industry. Research firm DFC
estimates that by 2011, they will have grown to a $1.1 billion
industry. But this week, execs from prominent firms have been speaking
out against the very concept of "casual"
gaming and gamers.

Earlier this week, Nintendo Europe's senior marketing director, Laurent Fischer,
weighed in
"For me, you are a gamer or non-gamer," he said. "I think most of you
know that you can spend ten or twenty hours on an Internet flash
game... The guy who plays these games regularly - he's a core gamer."
And then the next
day, Electronic Arts Mobile's European Marketing Director, Tim
followed suit
"I think the big difference in terminology here is that when people say
'casual games' they assume a certain type of game, or a certain kind of
person," he told GamesIndustry.biz. "The reality is that it's a
more complex than that - there are certain types of people in certain
types of need states, and a gamer in one environment will have a very
different set of criteria to a gamer in another environment."

There's definitely some truth in what both execs say. A lot of
marketers make assumptions about casual gamers based on the data that's
available. While casual gamers are, on average, older and female, that
certainly doesn't mean that
they're all older and female -- and it absolutely doesn't mean all
casual games should be designed for that audience.

But despite the odd bad assumption, there's still a use for the "casual" game distinction that shouldn't be lost.

One part of the definition that Fischer and Harrison both attack is the
idea that casual games should be quick and easy, and this is where I
personally take issue. The key trait of a casual game is that it's
simple to learn its primary
mechanics -- that while it may be possible to play for hours upon
hours, such intense play is not required to make progress. These
qualities are what attract a broad audience, and what convert nongamers
into gamers -- the essence of casual

But that's just my take. Leave a comment and tell us what you think
makes a casual game casual, or if you think the whole classification is
just bunk.

Former MediaPost reporter Shankar Gupta is now an Online Communications Strategist at 360i.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Coming to a marketer near you: Brain scanning

Hi Kids, old Doc Media here to set you mind straight about this "breakthrough". While this type of technology--eye movements, wired seats, etc., --goes back to the 70's, and now we have a cool update, I challenge either of these companies to prove their claim that their results are "better" than focus groups, or polling. Where is the evidence. The few examples sited, and the fact of raising money from Nielson, does not prove their claims. Also, the clear statement is that they are "inferring ", from their data what is going on in the minds of the subjects. Well we call that interpretation, exactly the method used for all other data collection methods. Interpretation based on what criteria, developed by whom, compared to what?
While I am as interested in this technology as anyone in marketing ,perhaps more so, I think that a realistic presentation of what this can in fact produce, compared to the other methods it claims to be improving upon, should require some actual real research and data being reports.
I would be happy to provide a media psychologist's counterpoint to the assessment made by either of these methods using a control group and any topic or presentation . I venture that my results will be at least as good as theirs,if not better, but we won't know till we set up the experiment will we?

Coming to a marketer near you: Brain scanning
Tom Abate, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, May 19, 2008

U.S. advertisers spent nearly $500 per American last year. But what makes one ad persuasive and another a dud? Two Bay Area firms have adapted brain scanning technology to gain insight into the science of spending.
"We can't read your mind, I assure you," said A.K. Pradeep, chief executive of NeuroFocus. But his Berkeley firm can do the next best thing - scan your brain to map the electrochemical spikes thought to signify attention, emotion and memory.
"This is the next generation in market research," said Hans Lee, chief technology officer for EmSense Corp. The San Francisco startup also is using electro encephalograph, or EEG, technology to correlate brain activity with physiological cues such as skin temperature or eye movement to gauge how people react to ads, computer games, even presidential candidates.
EmSense and NeuroFocus are leaders in neuro-marketing, a field that aspires to create objective measures of the effectiveness of the $149 billion that U.S. firms spent last year on advertising, according to TNS Media Intelligence, to reach 300 million Americans.
UC Berkeley neuroscientist Robert Knight, a scientific adviser to NeuroFocus, said neuro-marketing has arisen at the confluence of three trends: a better understanding of the regions of the brain; precise sensors to measure when, say, the memory center is active; and software to infer from these telltale signs whether a given message resonated with men or women of different ages.
"Neuroscience today is where physics was at the turn of the last century," Knight said. "We've had the groundbreaking thoughts and theories. Now we are measuring and testing."
Science laid the foundation for neuro-marketing by studying conditions such as attention deficit disorder, which taught researchers how to recognize the electrical signals of alertness, and Alzheimer's disease, which required an understanding of how we form memories. Such studies have revealed which areas of the brain become active when we see a tiger leap across a screen or watch a baby smile - signals captured using instruments such as sensitive EEGs.
Both NeuroFocus and EmSense base their systems around devices that measure brain activity on the surface of the scalp. NeuroFocus uses a skull cap studded with electrodes. EmSense engineered its sensor into a headband that slips on and off easily. Both firms also track other physiological data - eye motion, for instance - to know what the person is watching.
In practice, the firms pay test subjects to watch commercials. Subjects are wired with the appropriate sensors, which record their reactions. The technology can measure how men and women, for example, perceive scenes differently.
Lee showed one television commercial that depicts a pregnant woman eating a dish of ice cream. Some drops on her belly, soiling her clothes. The ad goes on to show how machine washing with Tide lifts the stain. When women watched that scene, their brain scans indicated concern when the ice cream dropped and relief when the clothing emerged stain-free. Men showed little or no emotional response, suggesting the commercial didn't work for them.
"Some of the men laughed," Lee said.
Some are skeptical
Skeptics say despite its scientific aura, neuro-marketing doesn't do much more than confirm what common sense would tell us anyway - don't advertise detergent to men.
"Guess what: Babies and puppies do a lot better to sell things than toothless old men," said Jim Meskauskas, vice president for online media with ICON International and advertising industry pundit.
Neuro-marketers say advertisers validate their technology by paying for it.
"Nobody says no," said Lee.
EmSense has focused its brain scans on voters watching both the Democratic and Republican primary races to determine how they react to various candidates. That generated stories - and questions about whether such techniques were appropriate.
Unlike its San Francisco rival, Berkeley's NeuroFocus will not use its brain scanning technology in politics.
"We are perfectly comfortable to help determine whether one kind of cereal advertisement is better than another, but we don't think it is reasonable or right to use tools like ours to help persuade you that one candidate is better for you than another," said Pradeep.
Better than polling?
But Elissa Moses, chief analytics officer for EmSense, said neuro-marketing gave better measures of gut-level responses than either focus groups or polls, both of which have long been staples of political contests.
"Do ethics shift when you have a sharper tool," she asked rhetorically, adding: "Political candidates are products, and political advertising is advertising."
Ethical arguments aside, the cost of neuro-marketing studies are likely to make the technique too expensive for routine political use.
Pradeep said NeuroFocus charges $50,000 to $1 million for its analytics, depending on what is being studied and how many subjects must be tested. The Berkeley startup recently got an investment of undisclosed size from the Nielsen Co., whose chief executive, David Calhoun, now sits on its board, another indication of interest in the field.
Through the Nielsen connection, NeuroFocus also got a foot in the door at ESPN, which hired the startup last fall to ascertain whether sponsors - whose logos the sports network displays during newscasts - were being noticed.
"It's difficult to answer that through survey research," said Peter Leimbach, vice president for multimedia sales and research at ESPN, who hired NeuroFocus.
But with eye tracking to record what test subjects were watching and brain scans to show whether there was a flash of recognition, ESPN was able to discern whether sponsor logos were getting noticed and make tweaks to improve attention and retention, he said.
Daniel Pope, a historian at the University of Oregon who has studied advertising, said marketers have always hopped on science to sell soap. But while the tools for measuring response get more precise, we are far from turning persuasion into a science.
"A lot of what goes on in the advertising world is about guesswork and surmise," he said.
E-mail Tom Abate at tabate@sfchronicle.com.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Guessing the Online Customer’s Next Want - New York Times

Hi folks been off line for a while on assignment. Had to comment on this one though since it;s in Dr. Media's sweet spot, being a media psychologist. What I find most interesting is that while the technology can spy on your movements on line, etc., but it can't tell whether you like something or not as the author points out.Now the real deal is the collaborative filtering is a broadbrush, which is why Amazon keeps throwing crap at you you aren't really interested in.Don't forget that Amazon probably has more data on peoples tastes and behavior than anyone. What they don't know how to do is understand how people can like divergent things which have no relationship to on another logically. Why, because taste is not logical/ Taste is uniquely personal , however,each persons individual personal inner landscape of taste is organized along certain lines that we call cognitive style. These approaches to understanding peoples choices are doomed top limited success, until the fundamentally personal nature of taste is addressed.
Of course I may have some ideas on how to do that, don't you know.

Guessing the Online Customer’s Next Want - New York Times
the Online Customer’s Next Want

Marketers have always tried to predict what people want, and then get them to buy it.

Among online retailers, pushing customers toward other products they might want is a common practice. Both Amazon and Netflix, two of the best-known practitioners of targeted upselling, have long recommended products or movie titles to their clientele. They do so using a technique called collaborative filtering, basing suggestions on customers’ previous purchases and on how they rate products compared to other consumers.

Figuring that out is not so easy. For one thing, people do not always buy what they like. Someone may buy a sweater for their grandmother even though they dislike it and would never get it again. Similarly, a person who rents a movie may actually detest it but knows her child likes it. Or a film that was seen on a small airplane screen may garner a lower rating than if it were seen at a large multiplex.

The search for a better recommendation continues with numerous companies selling algorithms that promise a retailer more of an edge. For instance, Barneys New York, the upscale clothing store chain, says it got at least a 10 percent increase in online revenue by using data mining software that finds links between certain online behavior and a greater propensity to buy.

Using a system developed by Proclivity Systems, Barneys used data about where and when a customer visited its site and other demographic information to determine on whom it should focus its e-mail messages.

For instance, an e-mail message announcing sales might go to those Web site visitors who had purchased certain products or types of products in the past, but who had done so only when the items were on sale. In the simplest terms, if someone buys only when something is on sale, but never buys anything in December, then the e-mail sale flier might not be sent to that customer in December. “There is a digital trail of interest left by customers,” said Sheldon Gilbert, Proclivity’s chief executive and founder.

The observation about sales could be integrated with other behavior. Does the customer buy only when an item reaches a certain price? Is the customer more likely to buy on a weekend or during the week? Must it be organic material? An algorithm would weigh those behaviors to determine the likelihood that someone will open the e-mail message, and once opened, decide to click through to the site and buy the product. The more data, the better it gets at predicting, says Proclivity, which is based in New York.

“One customer found that 10 percent of its population accounted for 60 percent of bargain sales. So on the day of the sale, you can send a full-price ad to everyone else,” said Mr. Gilbert.

Barneys experienced at least a 10 percent increase in online revenue, as compared to control groups, said Larry Promisel, Barneys’ vice president of e-commerce. It found 20 percent more customers would purchase once sent the targeted e-mail messages. The company has saved money by not sending e-mail letters to customers unlikely to buy.

Not only are sales increasing, Mr. Promisel said, but with the store focusing on customers with items they are likely to buy, its clientele feels that it understands their interests, which increases good will.

Still, the problem of knowing what people want is hardly solved. While Netflix has persuaded almost five million subscribers to provide two billion movie ratings to its site, the company still has trouble figuring out exactly what somebody will like.

“I wish I could tell you that our recommendations system was reliable, but it’s not perfect,” said Reed Hastings, Netflix’s chief executive.

At best, Netflix knows that if someone rates a particular drama highly, it can predict what other drama they might like by correlating one’s rating of that film with others. “But if I know your taste in drama, I do not know your taste in horror,” Mr. Hastings said.

As customers value selection and rapid delivery more than recommendations, the company is not that worried about its prediction system. Even a 10 percent improvement of its ratings system has not been possible. Netflix has offered a $1 million prize to anyone who can do that, but to date, only slightly better than a 9 percent improvement has been achieved.

“Using as much information as you can is very important,” said Yehuda Koren, an AT&T Labs researcher, who was part of the group that achieved the results. To do even better, Mr. Koren would “track all clicks, the movies that people searched for, the pages they jumped to, their mouse movements,” information that Netflix does not now collect.

Doing this type of analysis, Mr. Gilbert of Proclivity believes, would stop retailers from sending out buying recommendations based on outdated information.

“I still get e-mails from Amazon recommending books based on the Jared Diamond titles I bought three years ago,” he said. “But I get nothing about my interest in gardening.”