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Brain hacking studies suggest subliminal web ads may soon be for sale

(MARKETING NEWS) In an experiment, a team of researchers were able to gauge reactions to subliminal images, reading the participant’s thoughts and feelings. Creeped out yet?

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Subliminal messages

No, this isn’t an episode of Black Mirror. Brain hackers are real.

Speaking at the University of Washington, electrical engineering researcher Tamara Bonaci described an experiment in which subliminal images were periodically displayed during a simple video game. The images, logos of fast food restaurants and car companies, were displayed for a few milliseconds at a time, not long enough that someone playing the game would be disrupted by them.

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Data through reaction

Through electrodes connected to the player’s head that measured electroencephalography signals, the team of researchers could then gauge how the player reacted to the subliminal images and read the player’s thoughts and feelings about the things that were depicted.

In the experiment, the players wore a complicated system of electrodes, but Bonaci says it would not be hard for similar data to be pulled from a VR headset, smart watch or other wearable tech. The process could also be used to sense reactions to things other than just brands, such as religious beliefs, political leanings, medical conditions, and prejudices.

They could get data on religious beliefs, political leanings, medical conditions, & prejudices.Click To Tweet

Real life applications

Science aside, the idea is relatively simple. On one level, hackers could insert images like these into a game or app and record your brain’s unintentional response to them, perhaps gaining insight into which brands you’re familiar with or which images you have a strong reaction to.

It could be used to determine which bank someone uses, where they are planning to travel, or perhaps even where their home is.

There are also advertising applications, providing even more specific information about potential consumers than existing data ever could. Imagine a political candidate wants to only advertise to a small group of people they know feel negatively about them. Images related to the candidate or campaign could be flashed subliminally in a VR headset and reactions could be pulled. The candidate could then just target a specific group who had negative physical reactions.

Similar methods could be used to gauge social or political stances on issues, determine who might have a certain physical ailment, or simply build a database of consumers with negative feelings towards a brand that should be advertised to more heavily.

Don’t freak out just yet

At the moment, the method is a few steps away from “mind reading,” since it is not always easy to tell what a reaction or signal means. However, just the fact that we’re able to get people’s responses to images without them knowing they’re providing data is a huge, potentially dangerous, breakthrough.

This is a huge, potentially dangerous breakthrough.Click To Tweet

Bonaci says there is no such evidence of brain hacking of this nature happening in the real world yet. The scariest part though is that when it does arrive, we may not even know it.

#BrainHacking

Brian is a Staff Writer at The Real Daily who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, and majored in American Culture Studies and Writing. Originally from California, ​Brian ​has a podcast, "Revolves Around Me," and ​enjoys public transportation,​ bicycles,​​ the beach​.

Real Estate Marketing

Dark data may be the key to your locked potential

(MARKETING NEWS) The key to a solid marketing campaign could be dark data if anyone can figure out how to actually use it.

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One trend that marketers and entrepreneurs alike are trying to utilize is the mining of dark data from social media. It may sound like something a supervillain in a made-for-TV movie may use to “hack the mainframe,” but it may be the crux of your next marketing strategy.

Research firm Gartner defines dark data as “information assets organizations collect, process and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes.”

This data is frequently unstructured, making it difficult to utilize effectively. Structured data is easy to analyze, it populates spreadsheets after a customer enters their information on your website and other clear roads of analysis.

Unstructured data, in contrast, is information that may be collected but its not utilized effectively. Almost 90 percent of unstructured dark data falls through the cracks and is never put to use. One big source of unstructured data is social media posts.

Customers will share insights into your business and brand through their posts about their purchasing habits. This is frequently done through not just through the selfie, but the captions associated with the photo as well.

A picture can tell a lot of information to people (what times of items you sell, their quality, and their overall experience) but the caption can help you understand more what their attitude towards those events are.

A picture may show an attractively plated meal, but the caption may talk about how there was a long wait for the food as well as poor customer service. These captions, and subsequent comments, can offer a keen insight into what people like and dislike about your brand called sentiment analysis.

Sentiment analysis can be utilized to understand attitudes toward your brand, and there’s multiple ways you can go about this. One method of analysis is through the building of word clouds which examine the most used words in a few days of dark data. Pro-marketers can easily pull dark data from those who like or follow a business’ social pages into software which can do the legwork for you.

Small business owners have some options that are less sophisticated but can still do sentiment analysis of dark data effectively.

The IProspect blog suggests to use “a blend of monitoring tools,” many of them free, to complete a sentiment analysis.

A better understanding of dark data means you aren’t limited to just basic social media analysis tools. With these concepts, you too can illuminate your dark data and shine some light on future prospects.

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Real Estate Marketing

NAR’s ad campaign about Realtors must be better because it’s on a roll

(MARKETING NEWS) The NAR’s Get Realtor ad campaign has been live for a few months now and though there aren’t concrete metrics, overall reception is A ++.

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) wants you to not only just choose their members to sell you a home, but to change the public perception of who a Realtor is through their newest ad campaign. The NAR communications team says that the aim of the campaign is to “reimagine the R®” and to bring brand awareness to Millennials in particular, as the next generation of homebuyers “in today’s hyper-connected world.”

The Real Daily wrote about this advertising campaign launched in June, so we thought it would be great to check in with how the campaign is doing so far. Sara Wiskerchen, Managing Director, Media Communications at NAR told us that due to the campaign’s launch in June, the NAR does not have many hard metrics on it. However, they did say that first impressions of the campaign from Realtors and consumers alike was very positive and that there was a “significant lift in brand awareness and consumer intention to use a Realtor.”

The Real Daily reached out to several of our readers (7 Realtors, 3 brokers, and 11 consumers) and the response was extremely positive. One reader expressed that the campaign does more to modernize the Realtor and their line of work more so than “brand than any other in the past, and they were pleased with it.” A different consumer said watching them made Realtors more “relatable” instead of uptight and “unapproachably buttoned up.”

Throughout these spots, there is a theme of making the consumer aware that a Realtor is helpful for achieving the American dream of homeownership and that while homebuying is challenging, a Realtor can go above-and-beyond for making it happen.

“This campaign demonstrates how Realtors bring endless enthusiasm to the whole home buying ordeal.”

Big changes are sweeping the NAR, from the attempt to modernize their association through this campaign to the appointment of new CEO Bob Goldberg, still fresh in his first 100 days in the corner office. This trade association is committed to integrating itself into the American home buying process and is listening to the consumer to do it. “Getting Realtor” has never seemed so hip.

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Real Estate Marketing

Instagram is letting users pay for one of their most sought features

(MARKETING NEWS) Instagram is letting user pay for one of their most prized features. Can you say sketchy?

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Verification for sale

The “verified” checkmark that one finds next to the names of celebrities and public officials has become synonymous with trust. In a time of parody accounts and identity theft, it’s refreshing to know that you can look for that little blue mark and know that the profile you’re viewing is certified legit.

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So it’d be a damn shame if you were to find out that someone like, say, Instagram was allowing for the sale of verification rather than using a vetting system to ensure that those little verified checkmarks appear next to the correct names…wouldn’t it?

Check, Please

The little blue verification check is more than just a symbol of social media prowess. The perks for verification vary depending on the platform; for example, Instagram’s perks include things like higher search rankings and free promotion.

Naturally, this can create a bit of a sense of urgency for up-and-coming brands, figures, and companies that are just legitimate enough to merit a following, but (allegedly) not prestigious enough to earn the verified check mark.

The kicker is that, unlike on Twitter, one cannot request verification on Instagram—you must personally be invited to the cool kids’ club.

Pay to Play

As with any market ever, demand begets supply. In this case, however, the “supply” happens to be a black-market endeavor to purchase and sell those verified check marks for anywhere from three to five figures.

In Instagram’s case, the exclusivity of invite-only verification is exceptionally tantalizing for some, leading the average price to land far higher than pay-for-verification services on other social media accounts.

While Instagram’s official policy prohibits this kind of behavior (because of course it does), the frequency with which accounts are illegally verified is low enough that they seem to be treating it like it’s a non-issue.

Predictable Offense

Ultimately, though, paid verification is a dangerous precedent to set insofar as it gives people with money and the right circumstances an advantage over those hard-working brands that objectively deserve verification more than those paying for it—much like literally any other context in real life.

The bottom line is this: of course Instagram has a black market that sells something coveted and borderline unattainable, and of course people are going crazy for it. That’ll be the case in any market for as long as demand is a thing.

With that said, the next time you see that little blue check mark next to someone’s name on social media, treat it with a moderate dose of skepticism.

#PayToPlay

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