May 06, 2015 - Comments Off on Behind every successful social campaign is mathematics on an industrial scale

Behind every successful social campaign is mathematics on an industrial scale

For many students, the term ‘industrial maths’ might conjure up images of the complicated formulas used to build aircraft engines, or to crack secret codes to follow in the footsteps of Alan Turing. But the reality is that mathematics is becoming an increasingly important part of marketing and advertising.

Marketers are turning to mathematical models with increasing regularity in order to understand the behaviour of individuals and communities. With the numbers behind them, they can help brands to interact with their target audiences in a way that’s positive – and fruitful.

In fact the models are now so sophisticated that they can be used to help brands and agencies predict and measure ROI – which can really help the brand when it needs to decide what to do next, and how to go about it.

Here at Bloom we’re pioneering these new mathematical methods. We collaborate extensively with universities in the UK and beyond, and fund studentships to actively encourage students to learn more about the opportunities for them, and for the subject, in our industry.

Bloom is represented on the University of Leeds Industrial Maths steering group and we regularly represent the advertising industry to the Industrial Maths Knowledge Transfer Network and Innovate UK.

When we were approached to be involved in the Maths at Work module at the University of Leeds, we were more than keen to help out. We thought it was a great way to help students learn more about how maths is used ‘in the wild’ or, to put it bluntly, in a way that isn’t related to accountancy, insurance or engineering.

The students were invited to do project work that mirrored a commercial application of mathematics. We provided a use case to one group of students, which focused on using social media data to learn more about a brand.

Data specialists Peter Laflin and Amanda Otley were invited along from Bloom to observe the final presentations, which formed part of the assessment for the module.

The group undertook a network analysis of a small Twitter community and showed great promise in pulling together a set of recommendations for how social media could be used in marketing. The recommendations would need some more work to be used commercially, but we were very impressed by the level of detail and thinking that the students had gone to as part of their degree.

Afterwards we thought it would be a good idea to invite the students into Bloom so they could see how we use social media analytics for the commercial benefit of the brands we work with. They were able to see some of the work we do for ITV and Sky, and we explained how we need to move beyond ‘counting’ to really understand the deep insight that can be drawn from social media data.

We talked at length about how social media data gives us a rich data set, which helps us understand the behaviour of millions of people – and how those data points help to extend the traditional market research toolkit.

The future of industrial maths is exciting – particularly since it has become so integrated in the world of marketing. Now we have a generation that’s learning about maths and marketing side by side, and it’ll be fascinating to see where this emerging knowledge will take adventurous brands.