Monday, August 5, 2013

Algorithms: The Operant Conditioning Short Cut to "Just Good Enough"

We engage in "operant behavior" whenever we take a voluntary action and then, based on the degree of success or reward, decide to repeat the action or increase the frequency or strength of the action. Encountering a lesser reward or failure we may even decrease or cease the action.

Also called "operant conditioning," this manner of behavior is not a response to prior cognition or a rationale. Rather, it is behavior that is solely determined by the consequences of an action taken.

In the practice of marketing communication today, this psychological theory offers an explanation of the attraction of algorithms, expert systems, data-mining, and programmatic media buying.

In these approaches, computer codes or programs are applied to data-sets in order to find what are known as locally optimal solutions to problems such as media buying and even selection of message appeals.

Algorithms generally give you seemingly reasonable answers, and often the alternative choices in marketing and communication are choices between right and right.

So the obvious risk is that a somewhat right approach will become a self-reinforcing path to a less than optimal future. Organizations and brands can all too easily fall victim to this high technology route to lesser success.

Actually, human truths and leverageable customer insights are the pathways to developing the highest performance marketing and communication plans. There are no short cuts on the pathway to learning what works best and why.

   Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

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