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BW Businessworld

Who Owns Your Opinion?

Sounds straight out of Matrix film series….. well, good on you! You have just started to redeem yourself as a person again from being just a number from a cohort!

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Isn’t it fascinating that your social media feed almost always has articles on topics that interest you and perspectives that echo with you?

Sure, the feed is determined by the fields that you have opted while signing up and the “influencers” you chose to follow but that is where the game begins…

Have you read about Cambridge Analytica yet?

It is both fascinating and extremely scary how they “harvested” the data of 3 lac people in the US and no one knows how many across different geographies to influence “behaviour”.

Cambridge Analytica supposedly brought about the biggest change in US Presidential elections and the Brexit vote.

While they shut shop on account of the backlash and the outrage that followed, but ever considered how many clones would have taken birth because of them?

Here’s an extremely top-line infographic of how Cambridge Analytica influenced behaviour:


This occurrence opens up the can of worms on trust, accountability and innovation.

There has been sharp turn where euphoria has been challenged by scepticism and innovation has been challenged by questions about transgression and privacy.

Post the huge outcry on what is termed as “Data Leaks” the consumer confidence on social media specifically and digital in general took a beating. A Gallup study below indicates how there was a drop in confidence on facebook  

Image Credit: Gallup

Interestingly though, there is a new science that quietly developed in Marketing which is called Behavioural Analytics. Many marketers believe this is their future “secret weapon”

What is this Behavioural Analytics all about?

The data about the behaviour of a consumer sits across multiple digital and social platforms. For any marketer to see the entire journey and to influence the behaviour, a central warehousing of all the data which let’s unification of all data and cross-reference it is needed.

Behavioural data analytics allows marketers to visualize all the events in a customer’s journey. This way, for example, marketers can see that Jane:

• Found a brand on Facebook in June

• Visited their blog in July

• Subscribed to the blog in August

• Downloaded a whitepaper in September

• Talked to a sales rep in October

• and so on…

Because behavioural analytics lets the marketer track all your data in one place, it takes the marketer’s ability to understand customers to a level far beyond what’s possible with traditional analytics platforms like Google Analytics. But unifying all your data is just one of the many benefits of behavioral analytics. Here are what it can deliver:

• Understand consumers/audience on a deeper level

• Segment consumers/audience according to more relevant information – What you do determines who you are

• Reverse engineer the Marketers objectives – Consider an example of Amazon, it might classify a potential buyer of a back pack

1. Those who read many reviews before buying

2. Those who buy affordable products

3. Those who don’t mind paying more for quality products

4. Those who are ready to buy now

5. Those who are doing research for a trip in the near future

6. Those who buy online after watching a TV ad offline

Amazon would use their data analytics platform to answer in order to help them reach buyers from the previous example:

• What do backpackers who place orders have in common?

• How can we acquire more like them?

• How can we replicate the user experience they have among non-buyers?


• What do backpackers who don’t place orders have in common?

• How can we reallocate marketing dollars currently spent on acquiring these visitors toward visitors who are more likely to convert

• Where are they dropping out of the funnel? Are they not finding what they’re looking for after a search? Are they clicking on listings but not engaging with them? Are they adding products to their carts but then not checking out? What can we do to improve this user experience?

• Are there any correlations between all of our data points and non-purchasers? For example, are people not receiving our emails less likely to buy?


• Use cohort reporting to customize and make more relevant Marketing Optimizations

• The feed and the data could appear differently for different cohorts of consumers dramatically increasing the ability to give the most relevant information.

• Analyse the causes of churn and reducing it

• Establish a single dashboard of all your consumers behaviour

The reason why I mentioned about the Behavioural Analytics at length is to illustrate the process adopted by Cambridge Analytica and many others who want to influence your behaviour by “harvesting” your opinion.

Companies that have access to our information can develop Personality Algorithms which categorize each of us by Monitoring our social behaviour – our likes, people we follow and topics that interest us, our passion and emotional interests.

Basis these they classify each of us into different cohorts. Some of us, who already are aligned to the ideology. Some who can be influenced into the ideology, some who need a lot of persuasion to induce a behaviour change.

Once these cohorts are formed, messages and articles are fed in through multiple streams constantly and people are recruited (last I know they are called influencers) to share/like/comment on these messages and articles. Once the influencers start sharing these, many believe that there is credence to the perspective and thus begins the process of “harvesting behaviour”

So, I ask again,

Isn’t it fascinating that your social media feed almost always has articles on topics that interest you and perspectives that echo with you?

Sounds straight out of Matrix film series….. well, good on you! You have just started to redeem yourself as a person again from being just a number from a cohort!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Satyanarayana Murthy YVS

Armed with Engineering, Business Management academic background and an alumnus of IIM-B, he has had the good fortune of working across varied roles starting from Manufacturing, Sales, Channel Management, Distribution, Brand, Marketing and PR, Business Strategy and Business Management across diverse sectors from Engineering, Oil & Gas and Media. Currently, he consults a few Start Ups and MSMEs besides working on an Analytics Media Tech and Luxury & Lifestyle Market place start up

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