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Farecast bought by Microsoft

Posted in Data Mining, Microsoft, Predictive Analytics by Pankaj Gudimella on April 18, 2008

Microsoft bought Seattle-based airfare prediction and travel site Farecast earlier this month for around $115 million, according to a person familiar with the transaction.

A Microsoft spokeswoman would not comment on the terms of the deal, but did confirm the purchase, which closed April 9.

“Farecast has been a partner of ours on MSN Travel and we look forward to working closely with the Farecast team to incorporate and apply its technology in new and interesting ways,” Whitney Burk, a spokeswoman with Microsoft’s Online Services business, said in a statement.

More from SeattleTimes here.

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Programming Collective Intelligence – Toby Segaran

Posted in Book, Business Intelligence, Data Mining, Recommendation Engine by Pankaj Gudimella on April 18, 2008

Among the chief ideological mandates of the Church of Web 2.0 is that users need not click around to locate information when that information can be brought to the users. This is achieved by leveraging ‘collective intelligence,’ that is, in terms of recommendations systems, by computationally analyzing statistical patterns of past users to make as-accurate-as-possible guesses about the desires of present users. Amazon, Google and certainly many other organizations, in addition to Netflix, have successfully edged out more traditional competitors on this basis, the latter failing to pay attention to the shopping patterns of users and forcing customers to locate products in a trial and error manner as they would in, say, a Costco. As a further illustration, if I go to the movie shelf at Best Buy, and look under ‘R’ for Rambo, no one’s going to come up to me and say that the Die Hard Trilogy now has a special-edition release on DVD and is on sale. I’d have to accidentally pass the ‘D’ section and be looking in that direction in order to notice it. Amazon would immediately tell me, without bothering to mention that Gone With The Wind has a new special edition.

Programming Collective Intelligence is far more than a guide to building recommendation systems. Author Toby Segaran is not a commercial product vendor, but a director of software development for a computational biology firm, doing data-mining and algorithm design (so apparently there is more to these ‘algorithms’ than just their usefulness in recommending movies?). Segaran takes us on a friendly and detailed tour through the field’s toolchest, covering the following topics in some depth:
Recommendation Systems
Discovering Groups
Searching and Ranking
Document Filtering
Decision Trees
Price Models
Genetic Programming
… and a lot more

More from Slashdot here.

Email Marketing works for US Banks and Card Issuers

Posted in Direct Marketing, Email Marketing by Pankaj Gudimella on April 7, 2008

If you have a mailbox, it will come as no surprise that US credit card companies and other financial services firms spent more on direct marketing in 2007 than any other industry. Banks and credit card issuers are masters of mailing targeted offers, and that mail accounts for nearly 42% of their direct marketing budgets.

The DMA also said that banks and credit card direct marketers had a better return on investment in 2007 than did any other industry, at $13.37 per dollar spent.

More here from emarketer.

UK Consumers like Direct Marketing!

Posted in Direct Marketing, Experian by Pankaj Gudimella on April 7, 2008

Whisper the words ‘direct marketing’ to most people, and it is likely you will receive a barrage of abuse. But the latest research from the DMA UK claims consumers are much less opposed to direct techniques than they think they are.

The DMA’s Participation Media Report shows that only 22 per cent believe that direct mail had elicited a positive response from them in the past. However, when keeping a ‘direct communications diary’ as part of the research, the findings prove that direct mail actually elicited a positive response 44 per cent of the time.

DMA head of research Victoria Bytel was not shocked by these results. She says: “The gap between consumer perception and their actual behaviour certainly comes as no surprise. Previous research highlighting response rates, ROI and the value of direct marketing to the UK economy demonstrates its effectiveness.”

Read more here.

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Neuromarketing – The ad man’s ultimate tool

Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Neuromarketing by Pankaj Gudimella on April 3, 2008

A story by Nick Carr about Neuromarketing, the new tool in a marketer’s hand. Read more in the guardian article here.

At McLean Hospital, a prestigious psychiatric institution run by Harvard University, an advertising agency recently sponsored an experiment in which the brains of half-a-dozen young whiskey drinkers were scanned. The goal, according to a report in Business Week, was “to gauge the emotional power of various images, including college kids drinking cocktails on spring break, twentysomethings with flasks around a campfire, and older guys at a swanky bar”. The results were used to fine-tune an ad campaign for the maker of Jack Daniels.

BI series from CIO

Posted in Analytics, Business Intelligence, CIO, Data Mining by Pankaj Gudimella on April 3, 2008

CIO is running a special BI series, which is good reading for someone looking for a primer on the consolidation in the BI industry and who are the megavendors in BI and their role in the BI space, BI On Demand and how to reduce the total cost of ownership of BI.

Part 1: A Technology Category in Tumult
Part 2 : Nine BI Vendors to Watch
Part 3 : BI and On-Demand:The Perfect Marriage?
Part 4: What You Need to Know About the BI TCO

32% increase in Online Ad Revenues in 2007

Posted in Online Marketing by Pankaj Gudimella on April 2, 2008

According to Strategy Analytics’ latest research, global expenditure on online advertising rose by nearly a third to $47.5 billion in 2007 and is set to pass the $100 billion mark by 2012. The report, “Online Advertising: Global Market Forecast,” notes that while web video commercials are a relatively recent innovation, they already generated revenues $1 billion last year, and are expected to be the fasting growing online ad format, reaching $7 billion by 2012 at an average annual growth rate of 48%.

Read the press release.

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Angoss Demonstrates Predictive Analytics Plug-In for Salesforce.com

Posted in Business Intelligence, Data Mining, Predictive Analytics by Pankaj Gudimella on April 2, 2008

Angoss Software Corporation (Angoss) (TSX-V: ANC), a leading provider of predictive analytics solutions for the financial services and information and communications technology industries announced today at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit the availability of Angoss KnowledgeSEEKER® for Salesforce.com, a Sales and Marketing Analytics plug-in for Salesforce.com.

Seamlessly integrating with Salesforce.com, Angoss KnowledgeSEEKER® for Salesforce.com provides sales and marketing professionals with predictive analytics to increase sales volumes and revenue, improve sales force productivity, increase forecast accuracy and more – all with measurable ROI.

“We believe this is one of the most significant product launches in our company history that extends over many years of data mining firsts from in-database mining, to embedded data mining with Microsoft SQL Server, and CRM platforms such as Siebel and PeopleSoft” commented Angoss President Eric Apps. “Our clients and many others across the finance and ICT industries are struggling to drive higher revenue from customers and prospects while reducing net sales expense. Our On-Demand analytics solutions produce highly targeted, data-driven analytics deployed directly to sales teams and have already been proven to significantly improve revenue growth in the mutual fund, wealth management and telecom industries. By leveraging the flexibility and configurability of the Salesforce.com On-Demand platform, we are now able to expand and extend these capabilities while delivering substantial, incremental value to Salesforce.com users.”

Angoss KnowledgeSEEKER® for Salesforce.com is for marketers, sales managers, and sales reps seeking to maximize customer value, improve sales force productivity, reduce sales cycles, and increase forecast accuracy. Angoss KnowledgeSEEKER® for Salesforce.com provides a suite of tools to score leads based on predicted conversion rate, predict account revenue potential and mine opportunities for insight to predicted likelihood to close, lose, or push.

Read the press release.

Use and Misuse of Statistics

Posted in Data Mining, Statistics, Wharton by Pankaj Gudimella on April 2, 2008

From an article at Knowledge @ Wharton

“Today, consumers of information are drowning in data,” says Justin Wolfers, Wharton professor of business and public policy. “Terabytes of data are being generated from the constant measurement of businesses, workers, government and other activity, and there are many ways to draw inferences from the raw data. Unfortunately, many of them lead in the wrong direction.”

For example, he says a chain of retail stores may analyze its operations for a set period and find that those times when it reduced its sales prices coincided with times that overall sales fell. “That could lead the chain to conclude that low prices spurred a reduction in sales volume,” says Wolfers. “But the true causal link may be deeper than that. Before the retailer raises prices in an attempt to increase sales, it should examine additional issues to see if overall demand during the period was influenced by other factors. For example, perhaps the firm historically runs its semi-annual sales during slow sales periods. If this is the case, low sales are causing price declines, rather than price declines lowering sales.”

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Q&A Session with Sabermetrician, Bill James

Posted in Analytics, Data Mining, Statistics by Pankaj Gudimella on April 1, 2008

The father of sabermetrics, Bill James takes questions from the readers of the freakanomics blog. He makes some interesting points about what can and cannot be done in the field of sports using statistics and number crunching.