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CLICK - DrKPI for improving college marketingIt is again the time of year when parents and prospective students pore over recently published university rankings.

“…US News asked top college officials to identify institutions in their Best Colleges ranking category that are making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.”

But should we recommend such rankings, like the one above from the US News & World Report?  Are college rankings good, bad or ugly as Yale’s former Dean of Admissions suggests?

Or could it be the single worst advice we could possibly give a high school student?

Fact 1: College rankings generate revenue for publishers

Media houses know very well that university rankings are of great interest to prospective students and parents. So, newspapers like the Financial Times (FT) feature a weekly special section on education. In addition, the paper publishes numerous rankings throughout the year.

Then there are the various feature reports (see 2015-11-03 FT Special Report on Innovations in Education). Of course, they carry also advertising like the one below from Thunderbird.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2517″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”519px” height=”380px” alt=”FT Special Report Innovations in Education – Thunderbird promotes itself as innovative leader – half page – front page color ad $120,000″]

Looking at the FT Special Reports Ad rates shows that getting involved with educational institutions pays well for media houses. Universities are forced to get increasingly famous to attract more resources and qualified students. In turn, advertising in special editions about education is a sure way to reach more of your target audience.

Marketing 101

Publishing college rankings makes sense from a publisher’s perspective. Advertising brings in the revenue needed (FT Special Reports Ad rates), and people read the stuff because as Langville and Meyer (2012, p. 1) suggest:

In America, especially, we are evaluation-obsessed, which thereby makes us ranking-obsessed given the close relationship between ranking and evaluation.

Fact 2: Schools love to use rankings

Everyone certainly loves rankings when they place in the top 10. And regardless of whether we agree with the findings, if we are the top dog, we let the whole world know about it.

The great thing is such rankings are based on a third party’s opinion, which lends it all credibility when we advertise our achievement.  Arizona State University (ASU) continues to tout their top rankings in the US News & World Report list of most innovative schools.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2514″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”519px” height=”381px” alt=”US News & World Report – Most innovative school ranking 2015 – an advertising bonanza”]

Marketing 101

You don’t have to be brilliant or innovative, you just have to convince others that you are. Of course, if you have an external reference point that ranks you highly, such as a well-known publication, so much the better for your recruiters.

Can prospective students trust these school rankings?
Are they useful when choosing a university/college or program of study?

Fact 3: This stuff is less useful than you think

It is best to look at the methodology used in a ranking. What measures were used to conclude that ASU should be considered more innovative than Stanford and MIT? Fair question – let’s see.

US News & World Report asked deans and presidents to rank their peers. The magazine wants to compare apples with apples. Hence, national schools such as ASU, Stanford and MIT are ranked with their peers.

By the way, did you know that the US News & World Report puts the United States Naval Academy into the category of national liberal arts colleges?

So how does one measure the innovativeness of a university? We are told:

“…2015 survey that received the most nominations by top college officials for being the most innovative institutions. They are ranked in descending order based on the number of nominations they received. A school had to receive seven or more nominations to be listed.”

In plain English, this means you need to get as many high level university administrators as possible to nominate your university for innovation.

Accordingly, if you manage to make everyone perceive you as innovative, you are. That is all there is to it. Isn’t that wonderful?

Of course, we have no idea if whether a product innovation or a process innovation helped you rank highly. In either case, to claim to have made an invention, and thereby become an innovative university, you should answer things like: Why is this curriculum change an invention? They can be evaluated according to:

  • novelty (new),
  • inventiveness (i.e. must involve a non-obvious inventive step), and
  • industrial applicability (can be used).

Of course, in this case we have no clue what makes a curriculum change a simple change and what makes it an invention.

Marketing 101

US News & World Report rankings illustrate very well that how you measure things matters little. It just has to come across as making sense because 90 percent of readers do not bother to read about your methods or the fine print.

However, if you invest several years of your life in attending a school, while paying through the nose for tuition, fees and so on, you are well-advised to ensure the ranking makes sense to you.

Of course, even if the measure is bad, this does not necessarily mean ASU and Stanford are bad schools. They’re great, but

the US News & World Report’s attempts to measure innovativeness is a useless vanity exercise, to put it politely.

Fact 4: Using just one ranking is the worst

You basically have to do the homework. The five points spelled out in the table below will help you make better sense out of any ranking.

Please keep in mind – the perfect ranking does not exist. Each one has strengths and weaknesses, but you can only learn what those are by following these steps.

[su_box title=”5 critical things to do before trusting a college ranking.” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

1. Take the time and make the effort to learn about the methodology. Where is the description, and how thorough is the ranking we are looking at? An example of a good method section is PEW Research‘s study on multiracial Americans, which explains how data were collected, weaknesses of the study, etc. This is also easy for the uninitiated to understand.

If you have done this homework, you know better how much weight you should give the rankings in front of you. That is a great start.

2. Does the study measure what it is supposed to (also called validity)? What criteria were used to make up a component in the ranking? Do these make sense to you?

3. Are there components of the ranking that particularly interest you? We may look at costs as an important factor. It could be interesting to understand how, for instance, a university degree (e.g., undergraduate or graduate) affects one’s career prospects and / or income 10 years after we graduate.

3 very good examples of included interesting factors:

4. Come up with a set of criteria that are important to you (see also image below), such as:

4.1 – location (e.g., which country and what area of the country/city), and
4.2 – costs (e.g., tuition, fees, health insurance, accommodation).

5. Write down a set of criteria that are not that critical to you, such as:

5.1 – GPA of incoming class,
5.2 – number and value of student scholarships, and
5.3 – diversity of faculty (e.g., gender, race, country and language)

The above makes it clear that using just one ranking is plain stupid. Using two is risky and using three or more allows you to pick and choose, thereby empowering you to make the decision that best suits you.

If the ranking uses those criteria that are of limited importantce to you (see point 5), you know what to do – ignore it.

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[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2536″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”520px” height=”414px” alt=”Balancing the worth of education with outcomes.”]

One must balance the resources put in and the outcomes we hope for. This also indicates that we need to look at several rankings to choose the right university.

Who is number 1?  Create the best ranking

Of course, in addition to US News & World Report and the Financial Times, others do not want to be left out of this lucrative business. For instance, The Economist (a weekly magazine) also produces a ranking of MBA programs. So does the Wall Street Journal. Of course, even more rankings exist, such as the best 100 Employers to Work For or the Best Consulting Companies (German-language Handelsblatt).

In the case of the Best Consulting Companies, participants are asked three questions about the firm and voilà, we have the 2015 rankings. This may indicate more about how much you advertise (helps increase brand recognition) than how satisfied your clients are with your work.

These examples illustrate, everybody and anybody can create a college ranking. However, to avoid becoming a laughingstock, I urge you to follow the nine steps outlined below.

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How exact and thorough we are when addressing each step will, in turn, affect the overall quality of our rankings.

[su_box title=”9 steps to develop your favorite ranking system for just about anything.” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

1. Write a one-page summary of why this ranking is needed and explain its purpose (to help readers… lose weight, pass the certification exam, purchase the best car, etc.).

2. What can readers do with these data? For example, does studying these data help improve performance? Does it show one’s weaknesses? Does it outline how one can improve (see DrKPI BlogRank)?

3. Come up with some indicators or measures that allow the collection of data from individuals (e.g., salary three years after graduation), the institution (e.g., faculty with doctorate), and possibly other indicators (e.g., inflation rate, purchasing power parity (PPP) data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to adjust salaries).

4. Use the indicators to make up components that make sense to the uninitiated (e.g., career progress, quality of faculty).

5. Add up the indicators to attain the overall score for each component the school, firm or student achieved.

FT uses three indicators to make up the “idea generation” component of its MBA rankings.

  • percentage of faculty with doctorates,
  • number of doctoral students that graduated last three years, and
  • research output created using a set of 45 journals (no Chinese or Spanish research journals need apply).

6. Convert the component scale to a common one such as 0 to 100, whereby the best gets the top score and average performers hover around 50.

7. Determine the importance of each component.

In many cases, some components are weighted higher than others. That is a value judgment that warrants an explanation. The same goes if you weigh each component the same! Explain your decision to the uninitiated reader.

8. Compute the aggregate score as the weighted sum of the previously calculated scaled component scores.

9. Present the aggregate score from the desired scale, such as 0 to 100.

Thanks to Fung (2013, p. 22-23) for inspiring me to write up this list.

Whenever looking at a university or any other ranking, keep the above in mind. Is the methodology spelled out, explaining the issues raised above? If these things are not made transparent, caution is called for.

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What is your take?

What’s your favorite ranking (e.g., sports) AND why do you like it?

– Which university ranking did you use when you applied for college?

What do you like the most about rankings?

What advice would you give a high school student regarding college rankings?

FT Global MBA Ranking

As I pointed out above, each ranking has something we might be able to use for our own purposes. The one below shows which business school provides you with the best value (i.e. current income minus tuition, books, lost wages while attending the program, etc.).

Surprising, is it not? The best known schools rank low. But maybe you want to use different criteria to rank… Check it out yourself.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2552″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”497px” height=”650px” alt=”Financial Times Global MBA Ranking – Value for money”]

FT Global MBA Ranking – the winner based on value is the University of Cape Town – Graduate School of Business.

Things worth reading

1. Fung, Kaiser (2013). Number Sense. How to use big data to your advantage. New York: McGraw-Hill. Available on http://www.mheducation.co.uk/9780071799669-emea-numbersense-how-to-use-big-data-to-your-advantage

2. Kenrick, Douglas, T. (September 30, 2014). When statistics are seriously sexy. Sex, lies and big data. Psychology Today online. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-murder-and-the-meaning-life/201409/when-statistics-are-seriously-sexy

3. Kenrick, Douglas, T. (June 20, 2012). Sexy statistics: What’s the one best question to predict casual sex? The science of sex, beer and enduring love. Psychology Today online. Retrieved November 3, 2015 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-murder-and-the-meaning-life/201206/what-s-the-one-best-question-predict-casual-sex

4. Langeville, Amy N. & Meyer, Carl D. (2012). Who’s #1? The science of rating and ranking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Available from http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9661.html

5. Rudder, Christian (September 2015). Dataclysm: Love, sex, race, and identity – what our online lives tell us about our offline selves. New York: Broadway Books. Available on http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/223045/dataclysm-by-christian-rudder/9780385347396/

6. Stake, Jeffrey Evans and Alexeev, Michael (October 30, 2014). Who Responds to U.S. News & World Report’s Law School Rankings? Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington Legal Studies Research Paper No. 55. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=913427

Single worst advice – the answer

After reading this blog entry, it is obvious that using a single ranking is not smart.
Use a few and be aware of each one’s weaknesses and strengths.

Choose the component that helps you the most. If by any chance two rankings use the same component (e.g., salary), compare the numbers and smile.

Nothing is perfect. And since you read all the way to the end, why not write a comment and subscribe to our newsletter?

Download PDF file: How to save advertising dollars on Facebook and YouTube.
2015-09-28 Update thanks to Rubén Cuevas,

Fake views of ads by "bots" cost advertisers more than $6.3 billion US globally during 2015.

Data show, video fraud-detection on DailyMotion, vimeo, YouTube and others fails to filter out invalid traffic properly.
 
Here I distill our knowledge into 3 takeaways.

Check out what Sir Martin Sorrell WPP has to say about the matter.
According to Media Rating Council (MRC) and IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) standards, a viewable impression of a digital ad occurs when 50 percent of an ad’s pixels are on screen for one second.

In December 2014 Google published data regarding display ads in browsers (desktop and mobile). The study revealed that 56 percent of the display ads it served on its own and others’ sites never appeared within view on someone’s screen.

Nobody really knows for sure how Google or any other video platform or ad server come up with these numbers. For instance, Google provides explanations of what one should look for in these numbers it serves advertisers about their ads. How it collects them is, however, not explained.

1. What is the challenge?

The US Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released a report in December 2014, which estimated that

  • 23 percent of video ads, and
  • 11 percent of display ads

are viewed by “bots”. These are computer programs that mimic the behaviour of an Internet user.

The ANA estimated that this would cost advertisers about $6.3 billion US globally in 2015. This is a concern for two reasons.

1. Adertisers are spending ever larger amounts of money across both display and video advertising (see graphic below), and

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2336″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”530px” height=”310px”]

2. Spending for video ads is estimated to grow 21.9 percent compound annually from 2015 to 2020 (US data) (see also online video celebrities – chart below).

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2335″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”530px” height=”284px”]

2. Google and Facebook want a larger slice

Google and its YouTube platform want to garner the largest share possible of this growth in video advertising. Nonetheless, the competition will surely want to prevent this.

In April 2015, Facebook boasted it had over 4 billion video views each day. This number continues to grow.

For now, YouTube data suggest many more videos are viewed daily on its video platform than on Facebook.

For Google, display and video ads create tons of cash for the company, but things are changing. For instance, the rate for pay-per-click ads has been dropping (view chart as shown below). Google explains this was lower rates on YouTube than its other platforms.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2334″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”530px” height=”288px”]

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Some suggest that in the US, millenials spend nearly 60 percent of their time watching movies on either a smartphone, tablet or desktop/laptop.

To keep advertisers pouring more money into video ads, however, Google and Facebook have to up their game. Accordingly, both must provide strong evidence that their fraud detection systems work. Until fraud detection works, three things must be addressed as outlined below.

3. Focus on not getting charged for invalid video views

Each video platform wants to charge advertisers for video ads according to whatever the market will bear. In turn, advertisers want to keep costs for ads down, but this is becoming a challenge.

Apparently, some companies offer tens of thousands of YouTube views for as little as $5 US. Such data could in part help explain why 23 percent of video ads are viewed by fake consumers.

Of course, no advertiser wants to pay for these “views”.

How does one avoid paying for fraudulent views?

That is difficult to say, because…

Filtering invalid traffic before advertisers are ever charged is not getting easier.

Recent research sheds light on this important issue. Researchers uploaded two videos to each of five video platforms (YouTube, DailyMotion, Myvideo.de, TV UOL and Vimeo).

They bought ads on these platforms, which targeted the videos they had previously uploaded. Then, they directed their “bots” to these videos.

What are bots?

[su_box title=”EXPLANATION: What are bots?” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

Bots are used by DrKPI, Google and Qwant Search to crawl the web.

They are little programs that allow DrKPI  to collect data about blog entries (e.g., text, data of blog entry, etc.).

Google uses bots to index webpages. Bots can also be computer programs that mimic the behaviour of internet users viewing, e.g., a video ad.

About 60% of internet traffic is due to bots.[/su_box]

Each platform’s two videos were visited by the bots about 150 times. The researchers explain in their paper that the bots used were far from sophisticated tools as cyber criminals might use. Nevertheless, the results are worrisome for advertisers.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2324″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”530px” height=”319px”]

If detection mechanisms work properly, marketers do not have to pay for ads on YouTube viewed by robots.

Data show that YouTube seems to have the best fraud-detection mechanism of the five platforms tested. It was followed by DailyMotion.

YouTube’s fraud detection tool identified 25 of the 150 bot visits to a video as real users viewing the video.

This means in 16.67 percent of cases, YouTube wrongfully identified a bot or robot to be a human watching a video.

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What is most unsettling, however, is that Google charged the researchers for 90 of the registered fake views. This is a 60.67 percent error rate!

So what is the bigger problem:

1. That YouTube wrongfully identified 25 robot “views” to be humans out of 150 times the video ads were “seen” = 16.67 percent error rate, or

2. Google AdWords, instead of charging for the 16.67 percent of views wrongly identified as humans by YouTube, deciding to charge for 90 views done by robots =  a 60.67 percent error or false positive rate?

How could YouTube’s false positive-rate be so inflated? The process of counting views (i.e. public view counter and number of counted and monetized views) is opaque on YouTube.

Thanks to Rubén Cuevas for pointing out: “YouTube has two different mechanisms in place to discount views for the:

public view counter, and also the
monetised view counter”

Important is here to understand as Rubén pointed out to me, the public view counter seems to be more strict in the detection of fake views.

This is to say YouTube increases the count, and therefore, charges the advertiser for even more fake views than the public view counter would suggest.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2376″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”443px” height=”242px”]

Read the research findings in detail:

Marciel, Miriam; Cuevas, Ruben; Banchs, Albert; Gonzales, Roberto; Traverso, Stefano; Ahmed, Mohamed and Azcorra, Arturo (July 2015). Understanding the detection of fake view fraud in Video Content Portals. Retrieved September 23, 2015 from http://arxiv.org/abs/1507.08874

Check out the FT article for non geeks, including comments by the researchers left here:

Cookson, Robert (September 23, 2015). Google charges marketers for ads on YouTube even when viewed by robots. Financial Times, p. 1. Retrieved, September 23, 2015 from http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/53ac3fd0-604e-11e5-a28b-50226830d644.html

[su_box title=”3 takeaways: Focus on verifiability of video views to fight off deception.” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

1. Better process transparency for fraud detection
Having over 15 percent of bot views identified as “real” is a high error rate. While this is bad, YouTube is better than the rest.

YouTube seems to use a sufficiently discriminative fake view detection mechanism, but this applies only to the public view counter.

For the monetized view counter (i.e. those for which advertisers get billed), YouTube seems to ignore this mechanism for discounting fake views (see section 3 above – verifiability).

This is, of course, unacceptable for advertisers. Moreover, it makes the process of how YouTube detects these deceptors totally intransparent for advertisers.

Bottom line: With the help of third party verification, this challenge should be resolved quickly.

2. Improve measurement and use a set of standardized metrics
Even with third parties verifying numbers for advertisers, if our KPIs (key performance indicators) are not comparable we are stuck. For instance, Facebook defines a “view” as someone watching a video for three seconds or more. Others like YouTube talk about around 30 seconds before counting.

These different standards make it difficult for advertisers to get a clear feel and comparable numbers across platforms. Thus, even focusing on numbers, as Google suggests, is of limited value.

Bottom line: Define and agree upon the metrics used by the advertising industry. Make them comparable across social networks and video platforms.

3. Establish third party collecting, verifying and auditing of numbers
Facebook has followed the practice of self-reporting on viewability of ads, pages, reader engagement, and so forth. But as Volskwagen’s #dieselgate shows, self-reporting is always vulnerable to misuse, sloppiness and abuse of the system.

Bottom line: We need third party collecting and verification of numbers. Such efforts must in part focus on minimising charges for advertisers when ads are viewed by robots.

Eliminating fraud in online advertising is key

You are supposed to count the actual number of measured views of a video ad. Ergo, filter out invalid traffic from bots.

In December 2014, the ANA/White Ops study identified 23 percent of video ad impressions as bot fraud. Combine that number with the results from data reported here, and this means:

Google AdWords takes at least 60.67 percent of the 23 percent bot fraud views on YouTube and charges advertisers for them.

Thus, it follows that advertisers pay for at least 14 percent of video ads not viewed by humans!

The lack of transparency, standardized metrics and a regular audit of how video platforms handle fake ad views costs advertisers dearly.

Accurate metrics matter. For the first time ever worldwide mobile advertising will overtake print in 2016 ($71 billion US versus print shrinking to $68 billon US).

As well, social media advertising will top $25 billion US this year. Facebook is expected to take the biggest slice, more than $16 billion US. Instagram will account for “just” $600 million US.

Advertisers are justifiably wary and suspicious. Based on the above predictions, we better make sure that we pay only for those imprints, views, etc., that were executed by humans and not robots. Will #GoogleAW2015 tell us more about how YouTube plans to address this issue? Not really.

Download the checklist as a PDF (320KB file).

Interesting read

a) More content about advertising and viral content
b) Google: hidden ad costs
c) IAB’s efforts to establish a more trustworthy supply chain
d) YouTube frozen views
e) YouTube search for counted views – zero information provided
f) Facebook partners with Moat to verify video ad metrics
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Benchmark and test your blog – for free – right now

What is your opinion?

Now that you have read “Epic fail: Video view fraud detection“, I would like to ask you a question or two.

– As an advertiser, how do you deal with this issue? Please share!
– What type of video advertising works best for your business?
– What do you know about Facebook’s handling of this challenge?

More about advertising fraud

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Do Dolce & Gabbana’s recent statements about gay adoption strengthen their reputation as fashion’s aging enfants terribles?
Are Madonna and Elton John right to be raising hell or just ignorant of the full statements (made in Italian)?
Will all this help sales, while further building Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabanna’s reputations?
We define the difference between reputation and brand and discuss cases to better illustrate the matter.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is credited with this statement:

Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.
Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 10.58.37

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is credited with this statement:

Build brands not around products, but around reputation.
Airbus-Virgin-America

What do you think? Do you agree with Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson?
Should we care about brands, or should we focus on reputation instead? Leave a comment below.

Define or stay confused

Before we can answer the above questions, we need to define what these terms mean. A while back I wrote Brand versus reputation: Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, in which I pointed out that first, brand and reputation are two sides of the same coin and closely related, but nevertheless different concepts. I also disagree with people that say “reputation is part of the brand”. They are related, not the same.

Richard Ettenson and Jonathan Knowles (2008) pointed out the typical factors for a company’s top-notch reputation:

The company has integrity and is reliable, accountable, responsible and quality-conscious.

More formally, reputation is the collective representation of multiple constituencies’ perception of the corporation’s behaviour. Accordingly, reputation is about how efforts regarding brand and what the company has done or delivered are seen by its various stakeholders (e.g., investors, costumers, employees and consumer advocates).

Heads or tails, let us define the terms below.

[su_box title=”Brand is a ‘public-centric’ concept” box_color=”#ff9900″ title_color=”#ffffff”]
It is about relevance and differentiation (with respect to the customer, public opinion, supplier). Brand focuses on what a product, service or firm has promised to its clients.
Brand is what the corporation tells the public or its investors, the news it shares about itself or the product, and most importantly, what it wants and aspires to be.
A brand helps reduce uncertainty for a client. The customer knows what they get, such as a hotel chain’s rooms offering the same features (make-up mirror, good hair dryer) as standard around the globe.[/su_box]
So, what is reputation, then? Glad you asked.

[su_box title=”Reputation is an attitudinal construct and ‘word of mouth- / experience-centric’ concept” box_color=”#ff9900″ title_color=”#ffffff”]
Attitude denotes the subjective, emotional, and cognitive based mindset (see Schwaiger, 2004, p. 49), which implies splitting the construct of reputation into affective and cognitive components.
The cognitive component of the construct can be described as the rational outcomes of high reputation. Examples include high performance, global reach and one’s perception of the company (e.g., great employer).
The affective component of reputation is the emotions that respondents have towards a company. Thus, people talk about these things with friends (word of mouth). Media coverage can also influence how we feel toward a company.[/su_box]
Based on an extensive literature review, Schwaiger (2004) proposed an approach to measure reputation for corporations. He tested this in a preliminary qualitative study. Out if these findings he developed a survey to test his measures with a data set. Findings suggest four indices to explain reputation, namely:

1. quality (e.g., product or service),
2. performance (e.g., has vision, well managed, performs well),
3. responsibility (e.g., sustainability, being a good corporate citizen), and
4. attractiveness (e.g., offices, buildings, as an employer).

The above can be used to explain reputation as measured with performance and sympathy toward the company. Your reputation precedes you. It significantly influences your chances of doing business with somebody.

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Does company size matter?

Size definitely matters when it comes to brand. You might have a brand in your part of the woods, but Coca-Cola or Nespresso are still in a different league; they are global. What about your brand? If your company employs less than 250 tull-time employees (what the European Commission calls a small- and mid-size enterprise or SME), you are unlikely to have a global brand.

Your resources will surely not allow you to splash your logo all over the place, so spending money on brand is hard to justify. However, spending resources on keeping your clients happy, while maintaining a good reputation is a no-brainer (i.e. go for it). However, as Emil Heinrich points out, even a SME has a brand in the region where it does business. Hence, this might help recruitment up to about a 100 km radius.

Emil-Heinrich-a-storekeeper-does-have-local-brand

Small shopkeepers do have a local brand.

Are consumer brands becoming less important?

That remains to be seen. Nevertheless, here are two industries with interesting trends.

Food: Craft versus Kraft

In a recent Financial Times article (March 17, 2015 – Craft versus Kraft), Gary Silverman discusses food business trends, in particular how Kraft or Campbell’s Soup are losing market share to small food producers (retrieved March 18, 2015 from http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/2a238422-c7e0-11e4-8210-00144feab7de.html).

There is a general disinterest in brands.

The millennial generation wants products that are low in salt, sugar or fat. As well, these must be free of artificial flavors and rich in protein or anti-oxidants. This is the result of older American consumers being more prone to obesity, heart disease and other maladies. In turn, the article insinuates that millennials do not want to follow the same path.

The article also points out:

“…how important it has become for food companies to tell consumers an interesting story, replete with details about their products’ ingredients and health benefits. Such narratives give brands the coveted — and elusive — quality of ‘authenticity’.”

[su_box title=”YES – food brands are becoming less important.” box_color=”#ff9900″ title_color=”#ffffff”] In the US, the companies that are winning the game for natural, organic, protein-rich and unprocessed food are quite small.

Accordingly, one’s reputation for being quality-conscious and accountable is increasingly important (remember the neighborhood shopkeeper).[/su_box]

Clothing: #DolceGabbana or #BrandyMelville

The Dolce & Gabbana label came under fire in 2007 for an ad that many felt depicted the gang rape of a woman. The ad was ultimately pulled soon after, but unfortunately, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were accused of referring to people who were offended as ‘a bit backward’. Of course, belittling those who took offense is neither acceptable nor in good taste.

Dolce-Gabbana-Gang-bang-ok-IVF-same-sex-marriage-NOT

Dolce & Gabbana do it wrong – AGAIN!

The above image is from Kelly Cutrone’s tweet about the ad, which she tweeted on March 15, 2015. It got a lot of attention in the US, Canadian, UK and German media, partly because of an interview the two fashion icons given Panorama, an Italian magazine.

According to Dolce & Gabbana, and as stated in the printed interview, “la famiglia tradizionale, fatto di mama papa e figli, (a traditional family, comprised of a mother, father, and children). Of course, if one reads the interview more closely, it is clear that the guys are referencing their own upbringing and Sicilian traditions in general. There, this family model is paramount.

What got people like Elton John and Madonna upset was that the fashion designers dared to raise some scepticism about in vitro fertilization and surrogate mothers, mentioning their personal opinions about this. Whilst we may disagree, a democracy thrives on allowing people to state their opinions; castigating them thereafter on social media is an increasing – but worrisome – trend.

Of course we have to forgive Madonna. She is pushing her latest album Rebel Heart, which debuted earlier this month. Sales were lagging until Madonna posted this on Instagram.

Madonna-should-read-things-carefully-before-throwing-stones-at-others

Did Madonna “think before she wrote this Instagram post”? SURE – helping her latest album Rebel Heart to push up its lagging sales….

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are also the guys who drew applause for sending a pregnant model down the runway as part of their tribute to mothers.

Similarly, some people got rather miffed earlier this year about Brandy Melville, a clothing brand that offers only size small. It clearly discriminates against people of different size. Of course, it is unlikely you will fit in a small size dress if you are over forty. I do not :-) Again, some social media backlash happened. Questions about the viability of the brand continue (see DrKPI and #BrandyMelville). Can such a brand survive or will it simply die, as Abercrombie & Fitch seems to be?

BrandyMelville-one-size-does-not-fit-all

Size Small does not fit all of us, does it?

[su_box title=”Dolce & Gabbana: Social media talk is cheap” box_color=”#ff9900″ title_color=”#ffffff”]Social media poses a substantial risk that opinions communicated by company officials (e.g., as spelled out in documents or stated during interviews) is taken out of context and spread widely.

Using Twitter and Facebook to share news is fine. But please Madonna and Elton John, check the facts before you share.

(Mr. Dolce: “I am gay. I cannot have a child… I am not convinced by what I call children of chemistry, or synthetic children. Uteruses for rent, sperm chosen from a catalogue.” – see Fashion’s ageing enfants terribles).

Finally, talk is cheap. As consumers, let our actions speak louder than words: Don’t buy!

By the way, negative press and social media coverage is better than none… see Benetton below. And here’s a sucker’s bet: I would bet you most of those people who feel outraged or miffed today will likely continue shopping Dolce & Gabbana and Brandy Melville stuff as early as next month! It is so bla bla, superficial…[/su_box]

Benetton-advertising-with-dead-Bosnian-soldier-wearing--bloodied-shirt-with-bullet-holes

More brands than Dolce & Gabbana or Brandy Melville have raised controversy: in 1994, Benetton took a fallen Bosnian soldier’s uniform, using its red blood and bullet holes for an ad campaign.

Interesting read: Henry A. Giroux (2014). Benetton’s “World without Borders”: Buying Social Change

Source: Dolce & Gabbana: When reputation damages brand

Bottom Line

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The above examples offer two insights as spelled out below.
[su_box title=”Brand versus Reputation” box_color=”#ff9900″ title_color=”#ffffff”]1 —Corporate brand – reflects what the corporation aspires to be while the me brand reflects what I as an individual aspire to.
Reputation – the other side of the coin – is how people feel about the company or the person.
SMEs should focus on reputation, spending little on building a brand beyond their geographical territory.
Unfortunately, in practice brand and reputation are rarely if ever treated as separate BUT related constructs. This is a dangerous mistake to make.

2 — Corporate reputation is based almost exclusively on perceptions, not real knowledge. Hence, while managing corporate reputation is primarily a corporate communications task, that is not where it ends. Yes, doing good things and talking about them is great, but remember the goal.
To illustrate, companies sometimes appear to spend more money on advertising their good deed than providing money to the cause itself. Not really conducive to a good reputation…
Finally, if you don’t like a brand, its reputation or the owners’ behaviour, don’t just tweet about it, stop buying the product![/su_box]

What is your opinion?
Do you trust your clothing label’s reputation?
Do you care about your brand’s reputation when you shop?

5 tips to manage 3 important issues

1. When do infographics add value?
2. How to confirm that an infographic’s information can be trusted.
3. What are the ropes to skip when preparing or sharing an infographic?

This post builds on an earlier one I wrote in August 2011 where I asked, what makes a great infographic? There, I noted:

“The question is, can viewers see the overall shape of the data more easily and quickly with infographics than any other visual aid? Most infographics fail this acid test.”

Things sure have changed since then. One major challenge has been big data, of which have increasingly more. Unfortunately, we are therefore also more vulnerable to misinterpreting information, which in turn leads us to make the wrong decisions.

These days, running a poll on Twitter or a survey with an online tool is quick and easy. Nevertheless, how one frames the question – see Scottish referendum – can affect responses. The British competition authorities have a 39-page guide on framing questions correctly. They are concerned about ‘acquiescence bias’.

Here respondents fail to challenge assumptions implicit in a question, such as, Did you do some physical exercises today?, which implies that you should have done so. Instead they recommend adding something like, Did you do some physical exercises today or did you not do any? Such clunky questions require giving the subject two response options:

1. I did not do physical exercises today, or
2. Yes, I did physical exercises today.

These type of questions lead to more robust results. Without robust data, answers needed for our questions are on shaky ground. In turn, making smart decisions could be a sheer impossibility (see Guest Poster Karen Dietz’ Storied infographics: Why do they fail?).

Here are five tips to reduce the risk of wasting ink and time by producing a rather useless infographic.

Tip 1: Actions speak louder than words

People often say one thing but do another. For instance, Jeff Bullas re-posted an infographic on his blog. In the post, one is advised to always give credit to the original poster
(see below).

But does Jeff Bullas follow his own rule? Nope. Nowhere can a hyperlink be found to the original post with this infographic. Bullas is in great company, though. Most blogs that re-posted this infographic failed to give credit where credit is due. But you have to, especially if you consider yourself an authority on your subject.

Where is the added value of this infographic compared to a table?

Where is the added value of this infographic? Would a table have done a better job?

Tip 2: Make it easy for your readers

As the above example illustrates, sometimes graphics are hard to find. Instead, a string of words is added to some graphic elements.
The question we always need to ask:

Is the information we have best suited to an infographic?

CLICK - The turnover rate in the control group was 47.2 percent higher than that of the individual identity group, and 16.2 percent higher than that of the organizational identity group. And turnover was 26.7 percent higher in the organizational identity condition than in the individual identity condition.

The MIT Sloan Management Review did not think so about the above information, but the table also illustrates that, if done well, infographics can do much to clarify the keypoints of a study for the uninitiated.

Tip 3: Trust but verify

President Ronald Reagan told President Mikhail Gorbachev that the SALT Treaty they both signed in Washington, DC would need to be verified. Always verify that the links posted in the bottom of an infographic work before republishing it. For instance:

http://pargondigital.com/blog/pinterestetiquette12pointersforproperpinning/

The above link (listed under sources in the infographic above) did not work for me. To minimise such errors:

a) use a URL shortener, or
b) give a short link to where you found the data.

After some digging, I found the post that the above misspelled URL should have led to:

http://paragondigital.com/blog/pinterest-etiquette-12-pointers-for-proper-pinning/

The lesson here? Long URLs increase the chances of a typing error if a reader wants to go check things out. Something a reader should do, before believing or re-posting the data.

Tip 4: Check your numbers

Based on the above link issues, I wanted to read the 12 pointers about how to use Pinterest as a business from Jackie Raiford.

“Jackie is a graduate student studying Conservation Biology at Antioch University in Keene. She is the Social Media Specialist at ParagonDigital.”

She tells us what she thinks works or not on Pinterest. It sounds very useful and sensible, but I cannot tell whether it is based on data or just her opinion. Do you want to invest several thousand dollars each month in your social media officer?

Because, as Jackie rightfully suggests, that is what it means if this is properly managed. Your expert will spend several hours each week posting the right things and engaging with fans and clients on Pinterest. That does not come cheap, does it?

Another interesting issue in the same vein comes up when the graphic below is studied a bit more carefully. For instance, do the city character and real estate values correlate? What is city character, exactly? How do you measure it? Are commuting times in London or Mumbai a factor?

Sure, Savills got great PR out of this graphic – we will definitely get a repeat performance in 2015, and the FT managed to fill more than a page based on this graphic. Singapore and Moscow have few high rises and high real estate values, while New York has many skyscrapers and also has high real estate values. So what have we learned? That there does not seem to be a trend!

This is an example of an infographic – produced by a reputable firm and published by a highly esteemed newspaper – whose merit should be questioned by readers and editors alike.

CLICK - Are population size, persons per hectare, number of buildings over 150 metres, and density/building height USEFUL indicators that HELP us measure the city's urban identity? Or even a city's character? I think what we have here is #BigFail, lack of #Usefulness, #SmallData

Tip 5: Spell out your methods

As we have seen, experts often post some tips while suggesting that doing the same will also lead you to success. In other cases (see above), the infographic insinuates a causal relationship where there seems to be none.

These things can be done correctly. For instance, in the research below, weather data was used to learn how it might correlate with restaurant reviews. In combination with thousands of restaurant evaluations from thousands of patrons across the country, the authors concluded that bad weather leads to more negative reviews.

The difference is that this study is not a quick and dirty exercise. It uses a thoughtful definition of the issue being investigated. Second, time, effort and financial resources were spent collecting the data. Such studies are not done in a week or two (see below).

2014-09-30-Twitter-experiment-that-was-not-an-experiment

Experiments are best conducted in the lab. Field studies should try to control for certain variables, such as the day and time tweets were posted.

Bottom line

We all use simple visualization techniques for quantitative or qualitative analysis, which does not mean we analyze data for its own sake. Instead, we want to make informed decisions, so we analyze our data to gain an accurate and thorough understanding. Almost all effective visualization of quantitative or qualitative analyses are two-dimensional, X-Y axis type visual aids, such as bar or line graphs, and scatterplots. We want an overview, so we zoom in and filter, then study the details.

However, if the details are not to be trusted, visualization may result in more confusion that clarity. To illustrate, you may start with a table to allow the reader to get an overview (see DrKPI Blog Benchmark).

DrKPI Blog Benchmark shows how to improve content marketing for Barclays Wealth Blog and foster more dialog with target audience

DrKPI Blog Benchmark shows how to improve content marketing for Barclays Wealth Blog, to foster more dialogue with its target audience.

The above table gives you an overview with lots of information in context (e.g., country and same industry). Once you dig deeper, graphics get added.

These must be designed to display content easily, without wasting ink. UNFORTUNATELY, more often than not, infographics are a string of words. Through dazzle and a splash of color we may want to convey more than our data permit. That means we are trying to snowball our audience or at least wasting their time.

If we look again at the images above, the US map is relatively simple. Nonetheless, it conveys a lot of information. Also, the table about onboarding at Wipro (see earlier above) conveys interesting findings in non-technical language to managers. Both images use little if any color but add a lot of insight for the reader.

Better safe than sorry – buyer beware

Infographics may offer much color and splash. Nevertheless, their data may be boring or less valid and reliable in comparison to quality work. Keep that in mind.

So before giving away the farm, use the 5 tips in this blog post to check things out. Is trusting an infographic you found advisable? It could be based on invalid data riddled with bias and therefore make you look stupid if you re-tweet or post it to your blog!

Lots of collor and images - but where are the numbers

Lots of color and images – but where are the numbers?

What is your opinion?

– Have you recemtly found an infographic you liked? Please share the link!
What do you recommend doing FIRST when putting together an infographic?
– What other recommendations would you make?

I love to read your comments below and look forward to answering them. Merci.

Source: Can infographics show you the money? 

References

Bakhshi, Saeideh, Kanuparthy, Partha, and Gilbert, Eric (April 7, 2014). Demographics, weather and online reviews: A study of restaurant recommendations. Paper presented at the 23rd International World Wide Web Conference, in Seoul, South Korea on April 10. DOI 10.1145/2566486.2568021 Retrieved April 6, 2014, from http://labs.yahoo.com/external_publication/2014/02/27/32842/

Cable, Daniel, M.; Gino, Francesco; and Staats, Bradley, R. (March 2013). Breaking them in or eliciting their best? Reframing socialization around newcomers’ authentic self-expression. Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 58(1), 1-36 DOI: 10.1177/0001839213477098. Retrieved May 27, 2014, from http://d26f1zbt4c3e98.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Reframing-socialization-research.pdf

Easier summary article: Cable, Daniel, M.; Gino, Francesco; and Staats, Bradley, R. (March 2013). Reinventing Employee Onboarding. MIT Sloan Management Review, Retrieved May 28, 2014, from http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/reinventing-employee-onboarding/

Few, S. (2011). Data visualization for human perception. In Mads Soegaard and Rikke Dam (Eds.), Encyclopedia of human-computer interaction. Retrieved September 30, 2014, from http://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/data_visualization_for_human_perception.html

Few, Steven (2009). Now you see it. Oakland, CA: Analytics Press. See http://www.analyticspress.com/nysi.php

Gattiker, Urs E. (July 9, 2012). Why do infographics fail? ComMetrics Blog. Retrieved September 30, 2014, from http://commetrics.com/articles/2012-ultimate-guide-for-marketing-part-1/

Schrage, Michael (September 3, 2014). Learn from your analytics failures. Harvard Business Review – Blog Network. Retrieved September 4, 2014, from http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/09/learn-from-your-analytics-failures


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CLICK - IMAGE of David Cameron, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Barack Obama and Jenna Marbles. It is all about me - Selfie (noun) - a photographic self-portrait taken with a handheld gadget - a trend?

KEY INSIGHTS
Daniel Cable: Searching for true love has much in common with hiring an ideal employee.
Zoella – Love and house hunting: A systematic approach helps, but…
Jenna Marbles, Barack Obama, David Cameron AND Helle Thorning-Schmidt – Findings: Acting the way you were ‘born to act’ is what activates your best self.

We address three questions

1. Are we really what we are doing right now?
2. Relfies help improve – relationships, organization culture?
3. Do metrics help us choose a better partner, house or have a better relationship?

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Subscribe to our award-winning blog: DrKPI – the trend blog

1. You are what you are doing – right now

Of course, we all know selfies – a photographic self-portrait taken with a handheld gadget. When Apple launched the iPhone 4 in 2010, it included a front-facing camera lens, useful for video-calling apps such as FaceTime or Skype, and these days, Google hangouts. The front-facing lens also made it supremely easy to take those selfies.

Thanks to the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google+, we are all semi-celebrities now. Surely, a selfie is somewhat narcissistic, part of the ‘love-me’ phenomenon (see above).

Some have suggested it is also about digital existential angst. Other times I wonder if it does anything good?

Nevertheless, I doubt that most of us are really the person we portray in some of these relfies – see Jenna Marbles’ video below. It is all about show biz, a flash in the pan maybe…

We all broadcast, but who wants to listen or view these Instagram snapshots?

2. Relfies organizations and relationships

While with a selfie it is all about you, a relfie is all about your relationship with your partner, lover, employer, and so forth.

Relfies have become increasingly popular if Facebook profiles or Twitter accounts are anything to go by. Learn more about why relfies are important below (click image for more information).

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