« Ninjas attack | Main | Looking Back at Habitat »

Oct 07, 2013



That's interesting, but there may be a possible rub. Back in my old advertising days, pre-Internet, we wanted to know how much of new traffic into our stores was based on advertising vs personal recommendations. So we did some initial surveys and found out that around 25% of people who came in the door did so because of a friend, family member, etc. saying nice things about the service. We targeted those folks and did some deeper diving and found out that almost all of them had *also* seen an ad... so it's hard to say which was the driver. We also found out that many of the people who did the recommending had initially come in through advertising... So while the initial read seemed like about 25% of sales were dependent on recommendations, what we ended up feeling comfortable saying was that recommendation were *involved* to some degree in around 25% of sales. But that advertising was involved in closer to 95%. We also found out (in a related note) that it was almost impossible to move the recommendation bar by anything other than good overall service. That is, we tried "refer a friend" programs and upped the dough quite a bit, but that didn't have hardly any effect. If people liked us, they'd recommend us. Period.


There's a ground truth to the phenomenon out there and it may be 10%, 40%, etc. It's going to vary by context, platform, region, and a lot of other things. But what this approach does via machine learning is to compare cases where there is a social connection vs. those without, effectively controlling for the asocial factors in the model. So, when we find it's X% and the rest is the service, that's what it is.

We haven't done anything in regular retail, chiefly because the social graph data are too difficult to come by, and harder still to attach to PoS data. It may be different than online shopping, or not. And social sign-in may be part of a different phenomenon, or not.

As always, we'll let the data tell the story. And so far, that story for games at least is 10-40%, with a mean around 25%. It's early, still.


high school tribes forever... wonderful


Haha nice use of scientific terms: 'a$$hole'

Social value definitely has relevance. Sometimes it is earned over time eg. if a person recommends a movie and all their recommendations have been great I'll likely see the next one no questions asked, and vice versa. In my eyes their social value either increases or decreases over time based on this. Celebrities, sporting stars etc. hold a certain amount of social value due to their presence in the media. This can take a long time to build up and be extremely valuable, but it can all be destroyed in an instant!

The comments to this entry are closed.