Tag Archives: #TMRE15

Market Research Meets Big Data Analytics for LinkedIn

A Look Inside LinkedIn’s Big Data Process

Sally Sadosky (Group Manager, Market Research) and Al
Nevarez (Senior Manager, Business Analytics) led a thought-provoking
presentation on how LinkedIn is leveraging their pool of data to transform
their product. As you can imagine, the amount of data LinkedIn has on its members
is vast. As an added complexity, the LinkedIn product is not targeted toward
one business group. Their challenge is to use the data to optimize two sides of
the same coin ‘ B2C (members) and B2B (advertisers).
Sally Sadosky walked the audience through their ETL (Extraction
Transformation and Loading) process and how they ultimately develop a single
relational database. By transforming their data into a relational database,
LinkedIn is able to ask very specific questions (slicing the data). This allows
them to answer questions in the context of business needs and customer
experience (e.g. ‘What is the satisfaction with our new messaging tool for
members who had it enabled’?).     
One key advantage LinkedIn has is the ability to keep their
surveys very short because they already have the behavior data (they already
know what people are doing on their platform).
A few of the big data tools they use regularly include:
  • Low cost storage
  • Unstructured data
  • Highly scalable processing
  • SQL-like query
  • Query Hadoop data
  • Massive result sets
  • Advanced processing
  • Advanced ETL
  • Data flows

Isaiah Adams is the Manager of Social Media Development at Optimization Group, a marketing research and analytics firm that uses cutting edge technology to help clients make fact-based decisions. Follow Optimization Group on Twitter @optimizationgrp

Analytics in Today’s Sports Landscape

Do you remember when winning or gaining an advantage in sports was achieved by a coach’s gut decisions ‘ or when the value of a player was attributed to the ‘eye test’?  Analytics has spread like wildfire in sports and the days of ‘pure’ sports are long gone. 

The Spark that Ignited the Fire

Billy Beane, the GM for the Oakland Athletics, is notorious for his use of analytics in baseball. Chronicled by the Michael Lewis book ‘Moneyball’, Beane used analytics to better understand the ‘secret sauce’ of winning players. Beane looked past the traditional way of evaluating players (i.e. scouting services) and looked at the variables that led to more wins. It turned out that a team with a higher ‘On-Base Percentage (OBP)’ would likely score more runs, and ultimately win more games. Beane revamped his entire roster with players who fit those specs’. and the rest was history. 

Analytics in Today’s Sports Landscape

Fast forward over a decade after Billy Beane introduced analytics to baseball and the landscape has completely changed. Now-a-days, if you don’t have an analytics team on staff as a professional sports organization, you’re at a disadvantage. 

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been on the forefront of the analytics movement. NBA teams are now using a form of technology called ‘Player Tracking,’ which evaluates the efficiency of a team and players by their movement. NBA arenas now feature 6 cameras that track player and basketball movement 25 times per second. No longer are NBA players evaluated by the ‘eye test’ or basic statistics like Points-Per-Game (PPG) or Rebounds-Per-Game (RPG). Teams are now looking at the speed of a player, how many rebounding and scoring opportunities he had, how far a player traveled during the game (i.e. 2.8 miles), etc. 

In 2014, Benjamin Morris wrote an article on FiveThirtyEight.com about the hidden value of steals in the NBA. To illustrate this, Morris created a regression using players’ box score stats (points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, and turnovers) to predict how much teams would suffer when someone couldn’t play. Shockingly, Morris discovered that a ‘steal’ is worth as much as 9 points. Put another way, Morris said, ‘A marginal steal is weighted nine times more heavily when predicting a player’s impact than a marginal point.’

In 2014, Kirk Goldsberry of Grantland wrote a fascinating article on how he used this new available player data to estimate the value of a possession ‘ moment by moment. As an example he used the last 9 seconds of a game where Spurs PG Tony Parker maneuvered through the lane to find an open player for the winning shot.  The article features an interactive visual of how the estimated possession value (EPV) changed after each second. 

The articles by Goldsberry and Morris are examples of how the advancement of analytics in sports has led to a new appreciation for the ‘little things’ of the game ‘ things that were previously overlooked or viewed as unimportant. 

What’s The Future?

Wearable tech is the trend now. We’ve already seen the NBA experiment with materials used for uniforms and basketballs. Perhaps the next step is to bring wearable tech to the players? For example, major league baseball players often wear sunglasses when at bat. Maybe if their sunglasses featured technology similar to Google Glass and the Apple Watch, then we could measure players’ emotional and mental health throughout the game. 

Closing Thoughts

Is advanced analytics in sports a good thing or a bad thing? I’m not convinced one way or the other but I don’t believe it’s been all ‘good.’ Just like in Market Research, there will always be value in the consultative side of things. I’m not against Do-It-Yourself research tools like SurveyMonkey but there’s a reason why Fortune 500 companies don’t assign interns to conduct their market research. We’ll always need people who can structure studies appropriately and make since of the data afterward. Analytics just for the sake of analytics can only go so far in sports. There must always be direction (a focus on things that make sense in context of the game/sport) and people in place who can make sense of the raw data. 

What do you think? Is advanced analytics in sports a good thing?  What do you think is next?


Isaiah Adams is the Manager of Social Media Development at Optimization Group, a marketing research and analytics firm that uses cutting edge technology to help clients make fact-based decisions. Follow Optimization Group on Twitter @optimizationgrp

Image Credit: lonely11 / 123RF Stock Photo

Consumers Driving Healthcare Innovations

Everyone in the U.S complains about
healthcare’the rising costs of insurance premiums and co-pays, the lack of
innovation, the poor experience at doctor’s offices and hospitals, and price of
The landscape of big healthcare is eroding
faster than the biggest players can adapt.
Thanks to malpractice, the internet, the
rise of specialists and decline of general practitioners, integration with
complementary and alternative medicine, and other factors’consumers feel as if
they must drive their own healthcare. 
Gone are the days when actions are blindly
followed, as in ‘the doctor told me to take this __________________ and do
__________________.’  Instead, internet research leads to
second-guessing and attempts at self-diagnoses. Both scenarios lead
to information anxiety. Too little and too much unfiltered information causes
this quiet despair. The emerging paradigm finds consumers lost,
bewildered, looking for sources and solutions that help make health care make
sense for them’and willing to switch to what works for them. 
This tension creates a gap of opportunity
for disruptive entrants into the market. With 2.8 trillion at play,
everyone will race to get their piece of the pie, from well-established
companies outside of healthcare, to service providers offering new models
of care, to start ups. Hopefully, healthcare companies will recognize
the need to transform their business model and their product and service mix, or
risk dying on the vine. 
A recently released study by
the Health Research Institute (HRI) called ‘Healthcare’s New
Entrants: Who will be the industry’s Amazon.com’ The threat to the
established players is made plain: ‘Revenue
will circulate differently, and to many new
players. Consumers, spending more of their own money, are exerting greater
influence and going beyond the traditional industry to find what they
want and need. In the New Health Economy, purchasers increasingly will reward
organizations providing the best value, whether it’s an academic medical
center, a tech company with a great app, or a healthcare shopping network.’ 
Traditional providers have not yet caught the
tide of change, nor have they figured out how to diversify their revenue steams.
A single innovation can put a huge dent in the market. For example, if half of
all U.S. patients opted to administer an
at-home strep test, it could hurt the traditional provider network as much
as $68 billion. This move would benefit consumers, the company that makes
the test, and the retailer, but is a seismic shift for doctor office
Huge players are scrambling to make
an impact: Walgreen’s, Google, Time Warner, Target, as well as an increasing
number of healthcare technology start ups. 
Who will win? The ones who listen to
consumers, as they are the driving force of the change. 
Michael Graber is the
managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic
growth firm based in Memphis, TN. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to
learn more.

Making the Perfect Research Burrito

I’m still relatively new to the market research industry compared to most of the people I meet at conferences who’ve been doing this for 25yrs+. I may be at a disadvantage in overall knowledge and experience; however, I do bring a fresh set of eyes to the table. One thing I like to do at conferences is walk around and hear the ‘elevator pitch’ from each vendor. Conversation after conversation, booth after booth, I’ve started to see a pattern. In my mind (a market research ‘newbie’) everyone seems to be selling the same thing ‘ just repackaged and rearranged. Then one day around lunchtime at a conference it hit me”Market Research is like Mexican food.’ What? Yes, think about it. Mexican food is usually just the same ingredients (rice, beans, cheese, etc.) – just rearranged and called different names (burrito, taco, etc.).

I’ve spent some time thinking through this analogy as it relates to my own job ‘ marketing a market research company. ‘How can we be different’? 

This morning I was reminded of a TED talk by Malcolm Gladwell back in 2006 titled Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce. Gladwell’s presentation was about a breakthrough understanding about the nature of choice and happiness developed by Dr. Howard Moskowitz. Dr. Moskowitz is best known for his work with Prego spaghetti sauce. Pepsi originally hired Dr. Moskowitz to discover the ‘perfect’ Pepsi but Howard found that it was much more valuable to identify the perfect Pepsis (plural). In other words, Dr. Moskowitz understood that it was better to create products that model the unique tastes and preferences of different segments. Ultimately, this is where Prego’s Extra Chunky and their entire line of spaghetti sauce comes from. Gladwell’s ultimate point about Dr. Moskowitz’s revelation was that the key to making consumers extremely happy was to embrace their diversity. Gladwell said it best in his analogy of coffee:

‘If I were to ask all of you to try and come up with a brand of coffee — a type of coffee, a brew — that made all of you happy, and then I asked you to rate that coffee, the average score in this room for coffee would be about 60 on a scale of 0 to 100. If, however, you allowed me to break you into coffee clusters, maybe three or four coffee clusters, and I could make coffee just for each of those individual clusters, your scores would go from 60 to 75 or 78. The difference between coffee at 60 and coffee at 78 is a difference between coffee that makes you wince, and coffee that makes you deliriously happy.’

So as I sat drinking my coffee this morning I thought about my analogy of market research as Mexican food and about Dr. Moskowitz’s revelation on making customers truly happy. To put this in Mexican food terms, I think as market researchers, we need to strive to provide customers with the perfect burritos, the perfect tacos, etc. Too often we generalize our capabilities and they all mush together. Instead we need to focus on marketing our capabilities in ways that help solve specific problem segments. Don’t sell them Conjoint Analysis; sell them a structure for optimizing product features and benefits. Focus and segment the solutions (capabilities) by the problems that people have. 

To paraphrase Malcolm Gladwell, ‘This is the difference between Mexican food that makes you wince, and Mexican food that makes you deliriously happy.’ 


Here is the full presentation from Malcolm Gladwell.

Isaiah Adams is the Manager of Social Media Development at Optimization Group, a marketing research and analytics firm that uses cutting edge technology to help clients make fact-based decisions. Follow Optimization Group on Twitter @optimizationgrp

Image credit: yeko / 123RF Stock Photo