October 13, 2017

October 4, 2017

Master Class Behavioral Targeting in the University of Twente

Our Master Class Behavioral Targeting of October 2, 2017 in the Gallery Building in the Campus of the the University of Twente was very successful according to the comments we received from the participants. A lot of interest by students, educators and practitioners, very interesting presentations and a very lively panel discussion. Our thanks to all participants and contributors.

The presentations will be soon available online. Requests to e.constantinides@utweente.nl
Videos of the session are posted in our smart Marketing Facebook group Smart Marketing Facebook group











A popular article on Web Experience

Glad to see that my 2004 article Influencing the Online Consumer's behavior: The Web Experience published in the Internet Research Journal is still among the top-5 most read papers
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/10662240410530835

September 22, 2017

Master Class Behavioral Targeting on Oct. 2

The Master Class Behavioral Targeting (see previous post) seems to be very popular since more than 90 participants are registered already. https://www.facebook.com/events/1433086260061874 Considering our target of 75 participants we are quite happy that we were wrong!
The registration is now closed and we keep a waiting list https://www.utwente.nl/en/bms/nikos/education/masterclass-behavioral-targeting/#introduction in case of cancellations.
Given the overwhelming interest also form colleagues and contacts abroad we will livestream the event.
The morning session (09:30 - 12:30) will be live in our Smart Marketing Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1674296056130955/ , the afternoon session and the panel discussion (13:30 - 16:45) will be livestreamed in the UT USTREAM channel http://www.ustream.tv/channel/universityoftwente

For those interested the program of the day below

September 4, 2017

Master Class Behavioral Targeting as Marketing Approach: Theory, Practice and Challenges

Organized by the UT / Faculty BMS (Digital Marketing Lab / Departments ESIM and CS), the UT Department Marketing and Communications (M&C) and the
European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Digital)

 Date: October 2, 2017

Location: Erlenmeyer room in Gallery building. UT Campus 


Master Class Behavioral Targeting

The extensive use of the Internet as interaction,  transaction and information platforms in combination with the explosive use of Social Media offers marketers many new possibilities to monitor customers and their behavior and create very specific and accurate customer profiles. Big Data and a number of new analytics technologies provide also marketers the means to locate customers and approach them one-to-one.  
Behavioral Targeting (also known as Online Profiling and Behavioral Advertising) is a term used for online one-to-one communication with customers, leading to effective recruitment and high conversion rates.  Behavioral targeting is based on online customer profiling and one-to-one approach with advertisement. Artificial Intelligence and advanced algorithms make such approaches very effective and cost efficient and according to field experiences Behavioral Targeting is becoming increasingly effective as communication and persuasion tool in comparison to traditional online approaches and SEM techniques.
The practice is widely applied yet controversial: There are several ethical and legal aspects related to customer profiling. Wide publicity has been given recently to the role of behavioral targeting in the success of the Brexit campaign and the victory of Donald Trump in the latest US elections. Such developments are raising questions about the “weaponizing” of behavioral targeting in particular for political purposes and exercising effective influence on individuals.
The Master Class Behavioral Targeting is a contribution of the Faculty BMS of the University of Twente in cooperation with the UT department of Marketing & Communications and the EIT Digital in the context of the research, teaching programs and projects carried out in the faculty in the area of Digital Marketing. The Master Class will bring academics and practitioners in touch with this new online marketing technique and will present proven methodologies for profiling and applying behavioral targeting in real life situations with accent to the educational markets. The master class will also look critically to ethical and other issues that emerge when such techniques are applied.
The guest speakers include Willem Berings and Felix Geeraths from Social Inc, an Amsterdam-based agency that specializes in developing customer profiling strategies and online campaigns. Marc Zinck, CEO of the highly successful Spanish start-up Subastia de Ocio will present his experiences with behavioral targeting as the main marketing approach for recruiting new customers. Dr. Sophie Boerman, Assistant Professor of Persuasive Communication from the UVA, co-author of a research paper on Online Behavioral Advertising will present the findings of this study and the research agenda on this topic. Floris Metzner from the department Marketing and Communication of the UT will present the UT M&C approach on measuring Advertising Effects in creative ways.
The day will close with a panel discussion evaluating the takeaways of the day and focusing on the various technical and ethical issues of personalization and behavioral targeting.




June 26, 2017

To developers of self-driving cars: Ever heard about Marketing Myopia?

Self-driving cars are hot and most technology companies and many Silicon Valley start-ups are leading the autonomous vehicle hype. Engineering firms are working on developing autonomous car technologies and new testing projects of prototypes are an almost daily phenomenon. Fearing to miss the market opportunity many traditional automakers are launching research projects and prototypes. The autonomous vehicle makes experts excited and local as well as national governments are eagerly providing all sorts of facilities and help to attract and test robot cars.

I will not talk about a number of serious ethical or legal issues that have still to be addressed if such a technology becomes mainstream. I will limit this advice to the marketing dimension only.  
The marketing practice is full of anecdotes of failed new products and new ventures; some of them were based on state-of-the-art technologies that created substantial publicity and interest; A rather recent and well known example are the multiple failures of dot.com ventures at the beginning of this century.
While the reasons for new product failures are many in many and diverse, the "Product Orientation" (also known as Marketing Myopia, a concept every marketing college student knows about) has been a main reason of new product failures and responsible for billions of dollars burned in the market test. Marketing myopia is particularly present in the technology sector where often new and very promising technologies lead to very interesting concepts that without much scrutiny were launched to markets that were neither ready nor interested. This because more often than not the developers of such ideas fail to ask the target consumer / customer if a need for such a product exists.

I am afraid the autonomous car is also such a case. Despite the going volume of press posts and all types of media / social media debates I did not see yet a serious industry study measuring such a market need for self-driving cars. Maybe such a study lays in the drawers of some of the businesses in question but if I look to the - seldom - scientific literature studies about the possible adoption of self-driving cars these are sketching a rather negative picture; legal liability, comfort and safety concerns seem to be important issues for future possible users. 

Next to customer perceptions or even attitudes that can be potentially be very hard to change I think the most important issue around this technology is a radical change it will bring to the concept of "driving"! We know very well that people buy a car for various reasons, a very important one is because they see it as an expression of freedom, fun and of course because they like driving. 
The self-driving car is not anymore a vehicle under the driver's control and comes close to a -small size -  city bus or train. A typical potential buyer will make, even unconsciously, this association when in the consideration / alternative comparison stage. And while a robot car can be exciting to a computer scientists like the ones sitting inside the test cars today it can be repulsive to the mainstream user. I am afraid that potential buyers of a self-driving car will see this as an alternative to public transportation, an expensive alternative indeed. 
I countries with highly developed public transportation the chances of mainstream drivers to choose for a robot car will be limited. In countries with bad public transport the chances are better, I would argue though that countries with bad public transport maybe could use the R&D costs for the self-driving car for improving their public transportation instead.

I am afraid that if the industry does not conduct a serious study on the customer's needs and usage perceptions, the self-driving car will follow the fate of the hyped introduction of the e-readers of some years ago that not only did not wipe out the printed book but did not even manage to become a mainstream product. 

I would not argue however that the self-driving vehicle is useless, there are several cases that I think it can be useful,  mainly in the b2b and public domain, but I am afraid that in this cases the typical car driver will not be the main target.
Before the self-driving car becomes another marketing failure anecdotes I would highly recommend to developers to ask some people with marketing knowledge to help them understanding their potential market better avoiding the product orientation trap


June 22, 2017

Amazon and the limits of growth: The Red Queen effect confirmed



Headlines like this dominated the online and offline media last week: The recent takeover of Whole Foods for almost $ 14 billion by Amazon sent shock waves to observers and high street retailers.
Should we be surprised by the news? Personally I am not surprised at all; Diversification and continuous expansion is a strategy that Amazon consistently pursuits since the beginning of its times.

Is that right? In 2004 I published a research paper in the Management Decision titled: "Strategies for surviving the Internet meltdown: The case of two Internet incumbents" * Although this article won the title of the best paper award of the journal for that year it never became so popular with only 24 citations so far.
In this study I reviewed the strategic decisions made by Amazon and one more of the survivors of the dot.com disaster (E-Trade) at the beginning of the 21st Century, looking for clues why these Internet pioneers did not follow the fate of the thousands of dot.coms that went bankrupt after the 90's dot.com hype.
My study was focused on the major and minor strategic decisions made in the period 1997 - 2001. I classified these decisions according to the well- known Growth Matrix of Ansoff; this matrix identifies as most of us know, four types of growth strategies: Market Penetration, Market Development, Product Development and Diversification.
During the period in question Diversification was the main strategic approach for growth pursued by Amazon: Although Diversification is the most risky of the four options this strategy worked and not only helped Amazon survive the Internet debacle but also transformed Amazon from an online bookstore to an online (and increasingly traditional) retail giant that it is today. We must not forget that Whole Foods is not the first traditional retail venture of Amazon, they operate already a number of physical bookstores; interestingly books is the first product category that help Amazon to be launched as e-shop back in 1995.

As I mentioned, to me the expansion of Amazon to traditional retailing did not come as a surprise. In my 2004 article I came to the following conclusion when discussing the findings:

"An alternative strategic option for both Ž firms (i.e. Amazon and E-Trade) could be to concentrate on the present business domains and pursue further grow by expanding their physical activities rather than the virtual ones, at the cost of traditional players; such a strategy is likely to trigger reactions of traditional, physical Ž firms."

This conclusion was based on the findings that in the case of Amazon (and to a lesser degree of E-Trade) their strategy was looking to be inspired by the Red Queen Effect. My impression was that when Amazon will sell online whatever is possible to sell it might turn to the traditional retailing  in order to maintain its survival and growth.

The interesting thing about the emerging high-street presence of Amazon (and for sure more e-businesses will follow it) is that it can have many negative effects for established retailers but it could have also some positive ones: Is the expansion of e-tailers to the High Street a way to revitalize city centers suffering from shop closures and increasing difficulty to attract buyers in shopping centers?

Interesting issue to follow-up. One thing is sure, the distance between online and off-line becomes once more a bit smaller.

*Efthymios Constantinides, (2004) "Strategies for surviving the Internet meltdown: The case of two Internet incumbents", Management Decision, Vol. 42 Issue: 1, pp.89-107, https://doi.org/10.1108/00251740410510190


February 14, 2017

The View of future marketer on MSI research priorities 2016-2018

The Marketing Science Institute (MSI) is an important organization in the Marketing field, committed to close the gap between academia and business in this domain. One of the ways to do that is to identify emerging marketing-related topics and include them in their research agendas. In this line they regularly publish the MSI research priorities for the coming years. 
The latest report identifying the MSI the main five research priorities for 2018 -2018 has been the source of inspiration for our students taking part in the elective Master course Advanced Topics in Digital Marketing. The students had to choose a topic within the five research priorities and write an essay based on a critical literature review on the topic in question.
Forty six essays covering a wide range of topics within the MSI research themes were the result of this assignment presenting the state-of-the-art in literature around these topics.
The assignment is in line with our efforts in this course to offer to students the opportunity to get in touch with the most challenging issues of the marketing research and practice as well to present them with possible areas of research in the context of their Master Thesis or even of PhD.
This is also part of our efforts to develop the education around the theme of Digital marketing in The Netherlands to a high stage on national and European level. The vast majority of the topics chosen by the students are related to Digital Marketing indeed.
The work of the students has been bundled in a volume titled “Marketing of the 21st Century: Marketing Science Institute Research Priorities 2016-2018 through the lens of the future marketer”.
Although the essays included in the book were not meant to be of full scientific research paper quality, three of them were submitted for journal review and one has been submitted to a conference. At this moment the results of the reviews are not known.
The volume is available in PDF form to everyone interested. Our ambition is to produce a similar volume every year contributing in this way to the debate about the ongoing transformation of the marketing theory and practice in an increasingly digitized marketplace.
The volume is accessible in the Faculty News Page
https://www.utwente.nl/en/bms/news/!/2017/2/168688/marketing-of-the-21st-century

Talking Digital Marketing with Google and the higher education teachers

An interesting meeting with lecturers teaching digital marketing in universities of applied sciences and the University of Twente as only research university, organized by Goolge NL in their head office in Amsterdam. Interesting discussions about improving and coordinating education in digital marketing and also great view (despite the fog) from the 21st floor of the Google offices. In the discussion was clear the enormous demand of talents / graduates of higher education in The Netherlands with skills and knowledge on digital marketing. Google attempts to help closing this gap


January 18, 2017

Why do we need 50 milliseconds to evaluate the quality of a web site?

In 2006 a group of Canadian researchers (Lindgaard, Fernandes, Dudek and Brown)
published an article called "Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression" in the Behaviour & Information Technology journal. Lindgaard and his team found that a 50 millisecond exposure to a web site is enough to form a perception about the quality of a web site.

Building on this study, together with my Spanish colleagues Carlota
Lorenzo and MCarmen Alarcón del Amo, we published a paper in the Journal of Internet Commerce in 2013 called "Web Aesthetics Effects on User Decisions: Impact of Exposure Length on Website Quality Perceptions and Buying Intentions" where we looked to the effect of short (1 second) exposure on buying intentions.

Both studies relate short exposures to effects but they do not
explain why this is happening. What is of course interesting here is why the short exposure to an object (and a web site for that matter) can shape people's behavior; 50 milliseconds is so short that we actually do not see much of the object.
We will try to give an answer to this question together with my PhD intern Letizia Alvino and one of our Master students using neuromarketing techniques. Hope to publish the results but I will keep you posted anyway.

October 7, 2016

Creating a Digital Marketing education ecosystem in (east of) The Netherlands

The strugle of businesses and advertising agencies who are active in online marketing to find personnel with knowledge and skills on areas related to digital marketing is well known. Under pressure from the field more and more technology companies like Google, Microsoft or IBM are creating educational environments for fast-track education in various domains.
Google for example launched in the summer of this year an initiative called Google Talent Factory
targeting college students who wish to make a career in digital marketing.

The program not only offers the possibility to students to get in touch with AdWords but also brings in touch students with agencies interested to hire them. As one of the universities participating with more than 10 groups every year in the Google Online Marketing Challenge we were also approached to bring this opportunity under the attention of our students.
Google is not the only technology giant active in the education of future marketers. IBM is behind the initiative Big Data University that offers a variety of online courses. In our Master course
Advanced Topics in Digital Marketing we have included two of the courses offered namely the IBM Watson Analytics and the Big Data Introduction courses as part of the course curriculum. I could mention more such initiatives reflecting the increasing anxiety of the field about the inability of the higher education institutions to adapt their programs in Business Administration and Marketing in particular to the new market and social reality, namely that the online world has become a platform where commercial, educational, social and transaction activities are increasingly taking place.
Here in the Netherlands and also in the east of the Netherlands where out University is located we observe an increasing interest by local businesses active in digital marketing domains to get involved and assist us in our efforts to educate and provide skills to future marketers. Companies like Team Nijhuis (top Google Partner in the Netherlands), AdWise (a very successful agency in online Marketing) are companies actively participate in our Digital Marketing courses providing guest lecturers and case studies. This week I attended with some of my students an open house event by a company in Enschede (Lime Square) specialized in Neuromarketing techniques. I was very pleased to see that the CEO of this company was welcoming visits and use of their labs by our students.
Another initiative taking place in the Netherlands is that teachers / professors of Digital marketing from the country will have a first meeting in October to discuss the state of affairs of the digital Marketing in The Netherlands. Possibly a yearly symposium of Digital Marketing in Education will be the outcome of this event.
All these facts signal the creation of a digital Marketing ecosystem in this country. We as University of Twente want to be in the forefront of this effort. After all the moto of this university is High Tech - Human Touch.

Does it make sense to study Business Administration in a Technical University?

This is a question for many students interested in Business Administration. I was asked by the Facebook Portal for Greek students in the University of Twente to explain what are the advantages of our program. Among other things we offer a unique possibility to students to enter the world of Digital Marketing both in the Bachelor and in the Master programs with two electives:

The 15 EC module Digital Marketing for Networked Businesses in the Bachelor

The 5 EC course Advanced Topics in digital Marketing

The interview is available in the following link

https://www.facebook.com/notes/university-of-twente-in-holland-greece-portal/interview-of-dr-efthymios-constantinides-assistant-professor-in-digital-marketin/1202289659844736


September 10, 2016

New warning to Web Designers: 200 milliseconds is enough to make it or brake it

In 2006 a group of Canadian researchers (Lindgaard, Fernandes, Dudek, and Brown) published an article in the Business & Information Technology Journal called Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression*. In this study the researchers tested whether a very short exposure (50 milliseconds or 1/20 of a second ) is enough to create a quality perception about a web site that is consistent with the quality perception about the site if people examine the same web site for a longer time. They found indeed that 50 milliseconds are enough for internet users to form a positive or negative impression about a web site.

I thought this is a good example to use in order make clear to my students of the Master Advanced Topics in Digital Marketing today how important is the web site design for the quality perception of people about web sites and how short time is needed in order to form an opinion about a site’s aesthetic quality.

I started my lecture today with a short experiment where all present students took part: I presented them 2 web sites (that in my view could be examples of good and bad design) on the screen. They were exposed to a screenshot of each web site twice, the first time for 200 milliseconds (it was not possible to make a 50 milliseconds exposure in this setting) and the second time for 10 seconds which is close to the average time that Internet users look to new sites when browsing the web searching for something online before deciding to stay in the site or move on.
Forty-seven students took part in the experiment and although it is not a really scientific one the results confirm the findings of the Lindgaard et.al. study from 10 years ago: The consistency of quality perception between the very short and the long exposure is impressive. In the case of the “nice” web site 78% of the participants said that they liked in after the short exposure (200 milliseconds) versus 93% who liked the site after a more thorough examination during the 10 second exposure. In the case of the “not nice” web site the results were even more impressive: 100% did not like the site in the short exposure and 98% also did not like it after the second long exposure.
Can this mean that bad designed web sites have a stronger negative effect on us than the good designed web sites if we are exposed to them online? This is possible but what is sure is that the statement of the Canadian colleagues in their article 10 years ago is still valid. 

There can be maybe more conclusions from our not scientific test but maybe it will be a good idea to replicate the Canadian study to get a good impression of the effect of web design on quality perceptions today when Internet users are much more experienced and sophisticated than 10 years ago.
In the picture you can see the results of the test, Web site A is the "nice" and Web site B is the "not nice" one.

*Lindgaard, G., G. Fernandes, C. Dudek, and J. Brown. 2006. Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression. Business & Information Technology 25 (2): 115–126.

June 23, 2016

Digital Transformation in Action: Cognitive Computing (IBM WATSON) + Robotics + Internet of Things + 3D Printing + Sustainability = Olli

IBM in cooperation with Local Motors developed an autonomous shuttle bus named 
Olli. I found particularly interesting that many of the technologies used to bring about this product like IBM Watson / Cognitive Computing and IoT are part of our Digital Marketing curricula in the University of Twente. This is a fine example of the Digital Transformation concept that forms the basis of our courses and will revolutionize the vehicle industry not only because of the profound effect of driverless technology on mobility and human activities but also because of the emergence of car manufacturers who have very little to do with car manufacturing but rather with software. 

June 19, 2016

The University of Twente is among the 150 top universities in 2016

Great news for the University of Twente, more than 50 positions higher in the rankings this year vs last year, now nr 149 in the World University Rankings. The biggest improvement: Citations

June 11, 2016

Big Data in the service of Healthcare: Early detection of aggressive cancer form search data analysis

There are strong indications that (Big) data mining can yield clues about future customer behavior or events. A well-known anecdote is about a young woman who received a promotional present at home for the baby she was expecting without knowing that she was pregnant; the pregnancy was detected by analyzing search behavior in combination with analysis of social media activity.
A recent article published by a team of Microsoft researchers Ryen W. White, Eric Horvitz, and John Paparrizos, a Columbia Univrsity graduate student presents the results of a study on early detection of cancer based on online activity. The researchers performed analysis of anonymized queries of people having been diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma and data of search queries related to symptoms of the decease. Their findings indicate that "..Signals in search logs show the possibilities of predicting a forthcoming diagnosis of pancreatic adenocarcinoma from combinations of subtle temporal signals revealed in the queries of searchers”. This is a quite encouraging result for the early detection that is critical for this form of aggressive cancer. possible victims could be advised to visit a physician much earlier increasing the chances foe efficient treatment

June 7, 2016

Digital transformation is not only about adopting digital technologies; developing a digital organizational culture is equally important



Digital Transformation is one of the central topics of this Smart Marketing group. However and contrary to the popular wisdom that Digital Transformation is only about efficiently engaging new technologies the practice indicates that organization transformation (regarding leadership, communication, co-operation, culture etc.) is the real issue: How managers and employees grown up in "analog" and often top-down business environments can embrace and implement the organizational transformation needed in order to allow the adoption and implementation of new technologies. The HBR article by Jane McConnel "The Company cultures That Help (or Hinder) Digital Transformation" is texplaining this important issue https://hbr.org/2015/08/the-company-cultures-that-help-or-hinder-digital-transformation 
Picture: Gerd Leonhard
http://www.futuristgerd.com/

November 13, 2015

Although the driverless car is an example of incredible engineering of ambient technologies I still wonder what the target market of this product is. Blind people or people who hate driving can be possible customers. I am afraid this will be maybe another example of a product developed without any concern of potential market (product orientation in marketing terminology). I see though more potential in this technology used in replacing train or metro drivers maybe city bus drivers or even airline pilots. Not that this type of cars will be unsafe but rather because I cannot imagine that people who like driving will ever buy a product like this. 
The marketing history indicates that many products that were developed with technology only in mind failed the market test or ended up as something different than they meant to be. This is the destiny of the driverless car I am afraid. After all people who hate driving have other alternatives for travelling.
In any case the driverless car almost got its first traffic ticket

October 29, 2015

A short video lecture on using the Social Media as Marketing tools


Many marketers consider the Social Media as a headache rather as an opportunity; Social Media give much power to their customers, make traditional marketing communication less effective and it is not always clear what are the options of businesses as to using these as Marketing tools.

How could the Social Media be used as part of the marketing strategy? This is the topic of a short online lecture of mine that you can follow in this link.

October 21, 2015

How to avoid a social media disaster after a big blunder: The Volkswagen case

It will probably cost a lot of effort and money to Volkswagen to regain its position as leading and reliable top class automaker in the world markets. The diesel emissions manipulation scandal will probably forever be a dark page in the company’s history. But amid the doom and gloom, the resignations of top executives, the lawsuits, the recalls of millions of cars and the congress hearings Volkswagen has brilliantly managed to avoid a social media disaster: A “shitstorm” as they call in Germany a social media customer or public attack. Such public attacks have been quite common the last years and companies like P&G, Nike, Primarkt, McDonnalds, Uniter Ailines, Gap, IKEA, Nestle’, Cryptonite and many others have experienced firsthand how powerful the new consumer is, armed with the social media. All these companies were attacked by blog swarms or negative posts in social media for all kinds of reasons.
While bad publicity is nothing new in the world, businesses in the past could contain reputation problems using PR in combination with mass publicity in various media channels under their control. But with social media customer attacks things are different, not only because of the fast dispersion of such attacks, sometimes in global scale and the ferocity of such attacks but because of the fact that containment is notoriously difficult.

While in the past companies have suffered serious reputation damage trying to deal with social media attacks the old fashion way, things seem to rapidly  change. Social media customer attacks have forced many businesses to develop contingency plans for online reputation damage and professionalize their community management methods. Reputation or Community Manager, a management function that did not even exist five years ago is today a common place in most large and medium size businesses. Volkswagen must have very good social media damage control plans or reputation managers if we look to the facts: The business disaster of emission level manipulation di not become a social media disaster, something very obvious if we look to the picture above illustrating the volume and the sentiment of the social media posts around the case (data based on COOSTO data monitoring). A sharp increase in posts and high negative sentiment in social media posts from the date the scandal was revealed (around 21 of September) followed by a sharp decrease after the US Volkwagen boss Michael Hom offered his public apologies without any efforts to hide or undermine the case and even admitting that Volkswagen “totally screwed up” while the VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn issued an apology saying he was "endlessly sorry" for the "manipulation". (http://www.bbc.com/news/business-34322668 ). With such statements VW removed all ammunition from customers who would take their frustrations to online comments that would probably have a snowball effect in the social space, causing a difficult to reverse reputation damage. Transparency and honest apologies help therefore more than old fashion professional publicity and denial of wrongdoing, something many of the earlier mentioned victims of customer attacks did.