What Does Better Look-Alike Look Like?

look-alike powered by Biological Intelligence (BI)

The scarcest resource in the marketing technology ecosystem is quality data.  Data is truly the ‘oil’ or ‘gold’ of the programmatic revolution.  Brands have small amounts of first party data, which is rarely scalable, ample amounts of brokered third party data which is too scalable, and almost no ‘second party data’, the grassroots data version of a book exchange – take a book, leave a book.  However, despite a scarcity in data, ad tech shows no signs of tempering the programmatic sales strategy.   As each subsequent prediction ‘ups’ the growth of programmatic to full steam, the pressure only mounts for providers to fulfill big promises of big data.  Look-alike modeling is often the solution.  It promises to analyze, mimic and replicate the characteristics a true data set presents.  As look-alike modeling is required to fulfill more and more data requirements, the process will need further optimization and alternative data sources to provide long-term ROI.  Location-based strategies offer a possible solution and should be strongly considered as an addition to look-alike modeling.

We are beginning to see more location-derived modeling strategies developed for the ‘probabilistic’ world. With this approach (often in device matching), technology providers seek to identify a cell phone for example, to match a laptop. As the cell phone ‘checks in’ more often than not with the same laptop, the technology deems the devices ‘matched’ and enables advertising deployment cross device. A good percentage of mobile ad targeting is beginning to take place in this fashion.

Look-alike modeling requires more sophistication than ‘cross-device’, but can take a page from the simple success cross-device matching has seen with geo data.  Look-alike modeling requires ‘matching’ across multiple dynamic characteristics of randomized audiences, requiring algorithms to sift through immeasurable amounts of data to find hopeful patterns.  The general imperative is to build scalable models from finite amounts of data.  As you can imagine, the success in this approach is mixed, but Locomizer offers a solution which changes the odds for successful ‘look-alike’ application.  Locomizer can identify GPS coordinates in real-time and work with historic GPS coordinates to better understand an audience’s relationship to time and place.  With Biological Intelligence, Locomizer can then better define the characteristics of the users being matched for look-alike purposes, by the users around them and the attributes of the places they frequent.  BI presents a natural model to provide incredible insights based simply on the movement of audiences through space and time.  This provides an opportunity to significantly optimize traditional look-alike modeling by adding a geo-spatial dimension to the archaic, linear approaches most common today.

If all data were first party data, marketing tech wouldn’t need much of an algorithmic approach.  However, demands for data will always outpace the supply.  In essence, it’s no different than oil – as in our analogy, data is the ‘oil’ of our industry.  While some oil is easy to come by, the only way to obtain it cost effectively as demand increases is to improve the technology.  And breakthroughs such as horizontal drilling have been game-changers for the energy industry.  As demand continues to outpace the cheap supply of data for programmatic use, look-alike practices will become increasingly important to mine actionable data from large quantities of the unusable.  Locomizer is that game-changing technology that will help take the process to the next level and make better data more available for all.  By adding the locational dimension augmented by Biological Intelligence, Locomizer vastly improves the old model.  We are all a product of where we are and who we are with.  And with this component increasing the probability of accurate targeting, geo-profiling data will help ensure look-alike data looks great across all programmatic channels, as its demands continue to scale.

photo credit: Sunflowers via photopin (license)

You don’t eat artificial anymore, why should your marketing budget?

Artificial Intelligence is like artificial food - yack! Biological Intelligence is like organic food - yum!

In marketing technology, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are to the layman seemingly interchangeable, overused concepts and jargon designed to say a few things:

  1. Our technology is proprietary
  2. Our process is complicated
  3. Our results are superior

And most of all, Artificial Intelligence says a marketing technology company might just have a high-tech solution to marketing’s all-time challenge – how to reach the right person at the right time, with the right message.

Artificial Intelligence has been intriguing us, scaring us, or both on the big screen for decades but it hasn’t been until the last few years that it’s made its way into our businesses as marketers.  For most of us, AI has become synonymous with Ad Tech, accepted as ‘table-stakes’ for being more than just the next platform – especially on the buy-side of advertising.

However, in many recent Ad Tech missteps, Artificial Intelligence has been front and center, delivering anything but the results marketers had hoped for.  While the promise seems great, the reality is not.  How is this so?  It seems simple enough.  Computers love crunching numbers even without artificial intelligence.  Give them AI, lots of ‘Big Data’, many iterations and success should be a given.  That’s the sales pitch at least.

The challenge with Artificial Intelligence in marketing applications is that real business is anything but artificial.  The engine that drives commerce is not a machine, it’s the human heart, forming behavior patterns only nature can explain – not 1’s and 0’s.  In fact it’s those very binary digits that holds AI back from truly connecting with human behavior the way it should.  Those values, along with ‘Truth Values’ (True/False) are major limitations in Artificial Intelligence.  No matter how hard it tries, AI is only as strong as 1 and 0 – with no room in between.  With no intermediary values, traditional AI is archaic when it comes to replicating, or in the pursuit of Ad Tech, ‘predicting’ human behavior.

Enter Biological Intelligence.  ‘BI’ is flexible.  It can adapt to change in the universe in a way ‘Artificial’ never could.  BI sees the world not in 1’s and 0’s but in a fundamentally flexible and adaptive way found in nature – the right way, if you prefer natural over artificial.  With Biological Intelligence, for example, algorithms can solve for the behaviors of people in time and space, relative to who they are, where they are and why they are there.  BI is superior at deciphering such behavior, because like the human brain, it has a continuous range of feelings about things, not just binary values.  Marketers must connect with consumers from all walks of life with varying sentiment about their products; there is no room for a one size fits all approach like Artificial Intelligence.

So, given its flaws, and dubious results, why has AI proliferated throughout Marketing Technology when what we need to better understand humans is BI? Because AI is simpler.  It’s more widely understood in computer science.  It’s easier to program.  And in an ecosystem requiring compatibility, portability and open standards, it’s simply the cheaper way to market.   The scientists programming Artificial Intelligence models best understand computers.  And that’s useful in matters of bits and bytes.  But in matters of consumer preferences, like marketing, marketers who want results, must seek product design built based on more advanced science – human behavior.  It is indeed rare to find a computer scientist who is also a people scientist, but that’s what it’s going to take to understand people as data.

For a really low-tech and ‘common sense’ understanding of the issue at hand, consider turning to another domain – something we all consider on a daily basis – our diet.  While we all enjoy occasional sweets, and most of us occasionally indulge in the fattiest (and tastiest) of hamburgers and the like, we are quickly losing our tolerance for artificial ingredients in our food.  Brands such as Whole Foods have made an industry out of this preference, as we evolve to loathe the cheap, synthetic and toxic ingredients of yesteryear’s food products.  Natural food is grown, prepared and consumed the way nature intended.  It tastes better and it’s better for you – a simple win-win.  In your pursuit of Marketing Technology, it’s time to take the same leap.  It’s time to leave the synthetic, Artificial Intelligence behind and move on to a more natural solution.  Biological Intelligence enables just that, with a natural approach based on real behavior too complex to be calculated by artificial means.  Because in an Ad Tech community that has as many PHDs as marketers, real, human approaches are just what the doctor ordered.

Locomizer to compete in TechCrunch PitchOff at the Cannes Lions

TechCrunch selected Locomizer to participate in their pitch-off at the Cannes Lions on June 25 to compete for tickets to attend an upcoming TechCrunch Disrupt SF or London. The best part is that the pitch contest will be conducted the Cannes-style – on a yacht right by the Cannes Lions exhibition hall! Mike Butcher of TechCrunch will be there to judge the competition along with other distinguished judges.

First Place will receive 2 tickets and a stand in Startup Alley at an upcoming TechCrunch Disrupt this year (SF or London). Second Place will receive 2 tickets to an upcoming TechCrunch Disrupt. Third prize is one free ticket.

Only the startups selected to pitch and other guests are invited, since there is limited capacity at the venue (a yacht:). Wish us luck!


Locomizer to demo and pitch at #CannesLions


We are excited to announce that Locomizer has been selected by Unilever as one of the global 50 tech marketing startups to demo at the Cannes Lions, the world’s biggest advertising and creativity get-together festival. We had to go through some gruelling selection process but we finally made it out of hundreds of contenders. Read AdAge’s article about the whole process and what to expect. If you want to set-up an ad-hoc meeting with us during the festival, the best way will be to follow and ping us on twitter. See you in France!

Meet us at these events this week of June 15, 2015

This week is going to be unusually busy for us as Locomizer team will participate in these events in both UK and USA.

  1. London: June 15-17, 2015: The Europas Awards and Conference, Plus PathFounders

  2. San Francisco: June 16-17, 2015: F50 Founders Summit Seasons 5
  3. London: June 17, 2015 Unilever Foundry first anniversary

We’ll be pitching and demoing at the above events, so feel free to drop by to exchange business cards or just to say hi!