Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Why Liking Curly Fries Makes Me Intelligent

As an avid curly fry lover from way back, I was very pleased to recently discover that my love for this fun fried food actually makes me smarter.  What’s more, I was completely unaware of this link which left me pondering the impact of the many other things that I like?

So at this point, I am guessing you are either intrigued or convinced that this paradox is simply serving to disprove my intelligence from the outset.  So let me put this into context.

Through advances in technology, hyperconnectivity and the rise of social media, our individual electronic footprints and personal information are becoming more and more visible.  In fact, it possible to predict many personal attributes such as political preference, personality score, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, intelligence and more.  Now, I know many of you will be thinking, ‘but my Facebook profile is private’, or ‘I do not share that kind of information online’.  Coincidently, that is what I thought too until I saw a recent TED talk by computer scientist, Jennifer Golbeck.  Jennifer discusses the implications of small, seemly insignificant actions.  Yet, when taken in the context of hundreds of thousands of other people, they start to tell a story. Watch the video below.

This brings me back to the humble curly fry and why they make me smart.  A recent study utilised online data to correlate it with what people like on Facebook. From their research they identified the five Facebook likes most indicative of high intelligence and amongst them was the humble curly fry!

In another example, Jenifer refers to a pregnant teenage girl who was sent Target catalogs for baby clothes two weeks before she told her parents she was pregnant.  That is amazing, targeted marketing at its best (no pun intended!).  But how did they do it?  Similarly to the curly fry example, Target was able to analyse buying behavior within a large pool of people to generate a pregnancy scale and accurately predict that this girl was pregnant. 

Now I am no computer scientist, so if you want to understand more of why this works then I encourage you to watch the clip.  However, as a marketer I began to contemplate:
  • Are we truly aware of what our online profile really says about us? (clearly I was not!)
  • What ethical and moral implications surround the availability of such personal data and its impact on personal branding?
  • How we might manage these ethical concerns while still maximising our opportunities to achieve our strategic marketing goals and objectives?
Jasmine Clement
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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