Wednesday, November 23, 2011


link to infographic resume:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Social Network Analysis

Mining Social Networks: untangling the social web ( discusses some applications of social network analysis. One application area is to predict crime. The Richmond, Virginia police department monitors Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to find out when large, potentially disruptive parties are being planned and deploys officers to these areas. This has supposedly resulted in a dramatic decline in crime, though I could not find any exact figures attributed to this program. The article also looks at applications ranging from security to making loans. One organization flags a loan as more risky if the borrower wants to use the funds for a business they have no links to, and their software notifies them if you have links within your social network to anyone with a criminal record. This last one has me a bit concerned; would you agree to pay a higher interest rate because your Facebook friend's friend committed some kind of fraud three years ago? Would you be better off closing your Facebook and Twitter accounts in a case like this? While in the aggregate such analysis may reduce the bank's risk, I don't think it would be fair to their customers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Embedding images in QR codes

In class we discussed qr codes and saw some examples of qr codes with embedded logos or other artwork. Looking into this, I found at a nice overview that shows which areas of the qr code can be safely modified. With error correction, you can obscure up to 30% of the data and still have a functioning code. Unfortunately, I really couldn't find any more reliable technique than trial and error, so I just had to give it a try. I removed sections from the middle of the qr code and populated it with the GIMP bell pepper, just to see if it would still work. It turns out you can remove quite a bit of the pattern and still have a functioning code.

If you don't have a reader, you can read codes at

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Competitors Products as Adwords Keywords

While writing our client's ads we saw some opportunities to link our client's product to a similar but better-known competitor's products. I was wondering if this is really such a good idea, so I went to my go-to resource, the ACM's digital library. Apparently the technical term for what we are doing is "piggybacking," or bidding on competitor's keywords.

Piggybacking is common but little research has been done to evaluate its effectiveness. What is known is that it drives up the costs of keywords, which benefits search engines and makes our ad campaign more expensive! It is interesting to consider that Google does not consider piggybacking to be trademark infringement, which is sometimes a disputed issue. Is piggybacking good for the consumer? Unfortunately, the article says that more analysis is needed to answer this question. For myself, when I am doing research for a big purchase, I like to be made aware of competitor's offerings. But then again, I never click on ads.

My source:
"Smart Marketing or Bait & Switch? Competitor's Breands as Keywords"
Mark A. Rosso, Bernard J Jansen

Thursday, September 8, 2011

ACM article on Social Media Use and Potential

"Social media use and potential in business-to-business companies' innovation" by Hannu Kärkkäinen, Jari Jussila, and Jaani Väisänen of the Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland, looks into the issue of how social media is used by B2B companies and compares it to B2C companies.

Overall, businesses are well aware of the potential for social networks to be used for brand building and lead generation, but the actual use of social media is much less than might be expected from the stated interest of the companies. The main problems in integrating social media into a company's business model were difficulties assessing the ROI and in understanding the exact possibilities of social media in practice. About 90% of respondents indicated that their company offered no formal training or guidelines for the use of social media, even though between half and a quarter of companies agreed that social media could help them discover customer demands, shorten product development time, and save costs.

I think the overall takeaway point of this paper was that the pragmatics of social media adoption is still very much a developing area, and I think it illustrates the importance of having metrics to quantify the impact of adopting any business practice.

Article accesses online through the UA library system at:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What is business intelligence anyway?

This blog adheres to the philosophy that content > presentation right now... someday it will look beautiful.

I understand business intelligence as the collection and analysis of business data, which is used to measure the condition of the business in the past, present, and future. This information is primarily useful as a decision making tool. Web analytics is a function of business intelligence; it is concerned with internet data and helps us to make decisions about the company's online presence.

Apart from the five W's, questions I have in mind for our online marketing project include things like: Can we establish a correlation between Facebook posts and web traffic? I think focusing on questions with a definite action connected to them would be a helpful way to get started understanding the business's needs.