Archive for March, 2011

Dabbling In Education

Hey everyone, I want write a brief update about a neat project I’ve been working on for the past three months in anticipation for this weekend’s interview. From the outside looking in, I haven’t revealed much information regarding some of the things I’ve been heavily investing my time in lately. Back in late December 2010, I came across Peter Thiel’s new fellowship program 20 Under 20. After reading the initial press release, I immediately contacted two of my closest buddies who have a close following of the startup technology scene, David Merfield and Nick Cammarata. We all agreed that this opportunity staring us in the face was an something we could not put off for any amount of time. With nothing to fear but fear itself, we were certain that we needed to start seriously thinking about an avenue for which to pursue a world-changing venture. David, Nick, and I discussed the most important aspects of our lives thus far that could be significantly improved with the help of new technology. To us, education is an area that we see as a traditional system that has become one of the last major sectors to fend off technological innovations. While all three of us have had different schooling experiences, we are all passionate to disrupt the current education model.

Before the New Year, we submitted our team essay to the Thiel Foundation on the subjects of How we want the change the world collectively and One thing we believe is true that most other people believe is not true. With the understanding that the amount of time a teacher spends with an individual student directly correlates with the student’s competence of course material, we set out to flip the existing education model. The current student-teacher relationship is inefficient, and we believe we can profoundly change education by enabling teachers to mechanize the repetitive aspects of teaching. With the motivation that we can harness the attention of students who are becoming increasingly digital learners, we began to plan out our venture that would encourage teachers to re-evaluate how the convey course material.

In the past month, we’ve made through the initial selection rounds and preliminary phone-interview. In the past couple weeks leading up to final selections made in the upcoming days, we’ve been busy gathering thoughts in opinions from everyone in our personal and professional networks regarding our proposal. One resource that has been very beneficial towards our project is the New York Startup Digest. The NYC tech scene may take hard hits now and then from California techies, but the range of events offered every week is substantial. Thanks to the educational technology meetups in New York, we were able to find a potential partner to integrate with our platform.

When you voraciously pursue an idea for three months through endless refinement it’s imperative that you communicate what you are trying to do very clearly. We’ve found that the best way to share our ideas on our planned venture is to convey our thoughts in a format that forces others to learn things about our team, and also forces others recognize more about themselves. We will giving several talks to the Thiel Foundation, mentors from the Thiel Foundation, and other finalists for the 20 Under 20 program. My final piece of advice as my flight descends upon the Bay Area is to not be afraid to take a chance, just be aware of why you are taking the risk. We will be arriving in San Francisco today, and we will be walking on our dream.

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03 2011

Why You Need Re-targeting In Your Ad Planner

This past week Joel Stein of TIME Magazine published a examination of his research on behavioral targeting technology. In his self-discovery of the various categories for which data mining companies categorize his behavior into, he makes a significant distinction that consumers are not fully aware of the difference between tracking and sharing. The current state of the internet has reached a critical juncture that is dividing the people into two groups: collective groups advocating for anonymous identity and shameless individuals calling for their unique recognition on the web. The former is pushing for an internet that remains similar in principle to the original internet communities which were based on anonymous experimentation and discovery. The latter is a contingency of believers of paramount personal integrity and developing new technologies to make the internet a more efficient and  relevant experience.

So what does this have to do with ad planning?

The early days of internet marketing were largely based off of mere arbitrage on advertising inventory. Finding success in this strategy is highly unlikely on any advertising platform today.  Over the past few years the tide has turned in online advertising from mass amounts of cheap traffic to smaller bits of high quality traffic. The most problematic area of the push for behavioral targeting is the data that makes assumptions about each user. Consumers are clumped into categories of likes and dislikes. How can a system that makes assumptions based upon your browser activity really grasp your human behavior. The answer is that they can not (yet) even come close. We are people, not behavioral data. As Joel Stein, the author of the TIME article pointed out, the data mining trackers are often wrong about our seemingly interesting lives. If you’d like to challenge the claims made by sales reps of behavioral targeting agencies, test them for yourself. Does their data on your own profile match what they are selling?

In a browser filled with ads that often seem eerily creepy due to the awkward ad servings, many users have reported that they feel their privacy is being invaded. The result is a browsing experience that displays ads completely irrelevant to the content displayed on the page, and thus even more distracting. So how can advertisers combat this psychological user experience battle? A number of options still remain the core producers of quality traffic.

  • Paid search:  The best performing form of online advertising, even since the inception of Google Adwords.
    • Why? Consumers are actively seeking to buy your product or service.
  • Contextual ads:  The text ads are highly relevant to the content on the page.
    • Why? The visitors clicking on your ad are already interested in learning more about your product.

There is one segment of behavioral targeting that does consistently outperform almost every form of internet advertising: Re-targeting. The real substance of behavioral marketing follows the notion that an advertiser can more efficiently reach more customers by marketing to people who have proven to partake in activity related to the product or service being advertised. In the most direct relationship between advertiser and customer, this means that the customer has previously visited the advertiser’s website.

98% of visitors to any given eCommerce site do not convert. Re-targeting aims to capture a significant chunk of the remaining 98% of users and convert them through a targeted sales funnel. Industry statistics have shown that re-targeting outperforms traditional media buying by 10x.  The cost of re-targeting inventory may only be 2-3x cost of traditional behavioral inventory, but the cost is well worth the reward.

In the universe of behavioral marketing strategies, retargeting is a great way to cost efficiently capitalize on each and every site visitor. Your search marketing, banner ads and offline efforts will do some of the work, while retargeting will finish the job– converting browsers into buyers, buyers into repeat buyers and repeat buyers into life-long, loyal customers. – imediaconnection

Learn more about interest based advertising and the companies tailoring ads based on your browsing activity.


03 2011