Skip to content

Industry Spotlight: Customer Segmentation

Are you “young and rustic?” Or perhaps a “toolbelt traditionalist?” These are nicknames given to customer segments identified by market research firm Claritas, with its statistical clustering tool. Long before the advent of individualized product recommendations, business sought to segment customers into distinct groups on the basis of purchase behavior, demographic variables, and geography, toContinue reading “Industry Spotlight: Customer Segmentation”

The Statistics of Persuasion

The Art of Persuasion is the title of more than one book in the self-help genre, books that have spawned blogs, podcasts, speaking gigs and more. But the science of persuasion is actually of more interest, because it produces useful rules that can be studied and deployed. Marketers and politicians have long been enthusiastic usersContinue reading “The Statistics of Persuasion”

Book Review: Thinking Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in behavioral economics, much of it with his colleague Amos Tversky, who died in 2006. Kahneman’s 2011 classic, Thinking Fast and Slow, is a superbly-written non-technical summary of their fascinating research and its often counter-intuitive findings. The best feature of the book is theContinue reading “Book Review: Thinking Fast and Slow”

Job Spotlight: Digital Marketer

A digital marketer handles a variety of tasks in online marketing – managing online advertising and search engine optimization (SEO), implementing tracking systems (e.g. to identify how a person came to a retailer), web development, preparing creatives, implementing tests, and, of course, analytics. There are typically three types of employers: Marketing agencies that contract outContinue reading “Job Spotlight: Digital Marketer”

The Statistics of Christmas Trees

A researcher shakes a sprig from a Christmas tree, and counts the number of needles that fall. He then repeats the process for countless other sprigs. The sprigs are from a variety of species, and the goal is to determine which species do the best job of retaining their needles. Falling needles are a definiteContinue reading “The Statistics of Christmas Trees”

Eli Whitney and Google

This weekend (12/8/2018) marked the 253rd anniversary of the birth of Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin. And 20 years ago, Google received its first big infusions of capital from, among others, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Both Eli Whitney and the Google founders instigated economic revolutions, but also illustrate polar opposite approachesContinue reading “Eli Whitney and Google”

How Google Determines Which Ads you See

A classic machine learning task is to predict something’s class, usually binary – pictures as dogs or cats, insurance claims as fraud or not, etc. Often the goal is not a final classification, but an estimate of the probability of belonging to a class (propensity), so the cases can be ranked. A good example ofContinue reading “How Google Determines Which Ads you See”

Course Spotlight: Customer Analytics in R

“The customer is always right” was the motto Selfridge’s department store coined in 1909. “We’ll tell the customer what they want” was Madison Avenue’s mantra starting in the 1950’s. Now data scientists like Karolis Urbonas help companies like Amazon (where he works in Europe as Head of Data Science, Amazon Devices) use data to figureContinue reading “Course Spotlight: Customer Analytics in R”

Be Smarter Than Your Devices: Learn About Big Data

When Apple CEO Tim Cook finally unveiled his company’s new Apple Watch in a widely-publicized rollout earlier this month, most of the press coverage centered on its cost ($349 to start) and whether it would be as popular among consumers as the iPod or iMac. Nitin Indurkhya saw things differently. “I think the most significantContinue reading “Be Smarter Than Your Devices: Learn About Big Data”

Industry Spotlight: The brand premium for Chanel and Harvard

The classic illustration of the power of brand is perfume – expensive perfumes may cost just a few dollars to produce but can be sold for more than $500 due to the cachet afforded by the brand. David Malan’s Computer Science course at Harvard, CSCI E-50, provides an interesting parallel in the education world. It’sContinue reading “Industry Spotlight: The brand premium for Chanel and Harvard”