Category Archives: Technology

Grid and Maze

Manhattan, for the most part, is a grid. It is easy to navigate. The simple layout of the city makes it intuitive and predictable. You can go from point A to point B without much effort.

Indore, my hometown in India, or for that matter most cities in the World that are not developed on a grid pattern, can be called a maze. It is not easy to navigate unless you have a GPS or have intimate knowledge of the place. The city has grown without a planned layout, so to go from point A to point B, you need help.

Grid and maze analogy is a simple way to contrast something intuitive, simple and well-planned to something non-intuitive, complex and in some cases over-planned.

It’s as much applicable for designing products, and even websites and presentations. The most useful designs are the ones that are simple and intuitive. Design that makes the outcome second nature. The design that makes product easy and pleasant to use. The design that doesn’t need a manual (which is equally complicated) to explain how to use your product.

The key is to understand who your customer is and then design your product in a way your target customer finds it pleasant to use. Anything, no matter how complex it is, should be simplified to a level your customer finds it easy to use. Don’t kill the sophistication, hide it or present it in a way that is easy to consume for your customer.

My engineering mindset often pushes me in the direction of sharing with clients the amount of sophistication that went into the technology and technique to extract actionable insights. It is important for the client to know that there is science and data behind what they are using so that they can build trust on the outcome and they use it to make a critical business decision. We present it in a way that is simple for a marketing person to understand the engineering behind our product.

100 Days of Trump Fights with Brands

Originally published in Ad Age

In the hyper-partisan Trump era, brands have been caught up in conflicts with the president, his supporters and his opponents at breathtaking speed. And consumers have jumped on every one of them.

As voters take stock of President Trump’s first 100 days in office, Ad Age asked research firm MavenMagnet to help evaluate the impact so far on seven brands that got caught up in what you might call Trump fights: CNN, Delta, Lyft, Macy’s, Nordstrom, The New York Times and Uber.

Its analysis of more than 6,400 online conversations about brands and Trump from election day through April 1 suggests that while diving (or falling) into the thicket of national politics is probably best avoided for marketers, the outcome is not preordained.

Consider two brands that that got very different reactions to their Trump fights: Nordstrom and Lyft. When Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump’s clothing line, online discussion about it had an overall positive 24% “net vibe,” with 62% of conversations on the subject favorable to the brand and 37% negative. That was the best that any of the brands evaluated did.

Lyft, which made an ACLU donation in opposition to President Trump’s first travel ban just as Uber was accused of profiteering during a related taxi strike, generated a net vibe of minus 32%, according to MavenMagnet.


Online conversation about seven brands’ dust-ups with the president and partisans skewed against the brands on the whole.


Source: MavenMagnet. Methodology: MavenMagnet analyzed 6,421 conversations in social media, on blogs, in forums and elsewhere online between Nov. 8, 2016, and April 1, 2017, selecting only conversations pegged to brands’ conflicts with President Trump, his supporters and his opponents.

MavenMagnet conducted analysis of digital conversations in channels including social media posts as well as forums and article comments. All conversations and posts evaluated by the company for this research related to the brands’ interactions with Trump and Trump policy, said Aditya Ghuwalewala, CEO of MavenMagnet. “Trump amplified the feelings around these things.”

The unpredictability of the Trump effect also played out for two media outlets evaluated. Although Trump has long disparaged both CNN and the New York Times, they fared quite differently in public conversation online during the period measured.

The media brands
Maligned by Trump as “fake news” along with other news outlets in February, and previously mocked as “Clinton News Network,” discussion of CNN in that context had a negative 8% net vibe. Terms including “fake,” “biased,” “reputation” and “truth” all surfaced as important words surrounding the brand, though from negative or neutral perspectives, according to MavenMagnet.

The news brand Trump likes to refer to as “failing,” however? The New York Times seemed to get a positive spark from the Trump effect, enjoying a 16% positive net vibe in the period assessed. And as with CNN, the conversation around the Gray Lady’s brand and Trump was driven by what MavenMagnet refers to as customer accountability measures, where the Times spurred more positive sentiment than negative. Yet some of the same terms that crept into CNN discussions came up often in those conversations about the Times, including “fake” and “truth,” both from neutral points of view.

In the three weeks following the election, the New York Times told CNBC its subscription sales grew 10 times faster than in the same period the year before, netting an additional 132,000 paid subscriptions.

“While the pro-Trump segment believed Trump’s allegations of the publication fabricating news to propagate anti-Trump opinion, a larger majority believed in the legacy of the publication and supported it for exposing Trump,” MavenMagnet said in its report.

The Times was also among media brands cashing in this week on Trump’s criticism, running ads for Comedy Central’s new series parodying the president that play off his “failing” and “fake news” jabs.

The retailers
And then there were the two retailers who were swept up in Trump-related controversy. Nordstrom, which dropped Ivanka Trump’s clothing line in February, blaming poor sales, achieved the highest “net vibe” of any brand measured, at positive 24%.

Trump famously tweeted at the time, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly” by the Nordstrom.

The company seems to have been saved from overall negativity in part because its explanation for dumping Ivanka Trump’s brand was focused on its poor sales performance — not pressure from the #GrabYourWallet boycott effort, which pressured consumers to stop spending with companies affiliated with anything Trump-related.

Macy’s, however, did not fare so well. The retailer had ditched Ivanka’s dad’s menswear line way back in July 2015, after he referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals as he kicked off his presidential campaign. Yet, it appears consumer memories of that move may have been a little fuzzy after the election, when the brand was stung by the #GrabYourWallet campaign.

“The majority of the buzz around Macy’s political affiliation was led by conservatives and Trump supporters who decided to boycott Macy’s for banning Trump’s line and caving into banning Ivanka Trump’s line,” noted MavenMagnet’s research. Macy’s never did actually dump her clothing line, though, and it appears the negative perception was partially spurred on by misinformation.

According to the firm’s analysis, Macy’s, which has also been plagued by news of layoffs and store closures, had the lowest net vibe of all brands measured at minus 90%.

The transportation brands
“Customer accountability” was also a factor affecting brand perception for Delta. After United Airlines forcibly removed a passenger from a plane this month, some may have forgotten about what happened on a Delta flight in late November when a passenger bullied others to support the new president, shouting, “He’s your president, every g—— one of [you]. If you don’t like it, too bad.”

Delta banned the passenger from its flights for life, but made the mistake of allowing him to stay on the plane, which caused discomfort for other passengers. Overall, 35% of Delta conversations related to Trump were linked to customer accountability, and 62% of those were negative.

Delta also elicited allegations of racism by people who believed that it would have kicked the disruptive passenger off the plane if he hadn’t been white. As a result, 8% of Trump-tied discussions around Delta revolved around social responsibility, all of them negative.

After its brush with the Trump effect, Delta’s net vibe was low: negative 38%.

For ride-sharing competitors Uber and Lyft, the social responsibility factor played a big role in framing consumer perception.

In the wake of the Trump administration’s initial attempt to ban travel into the U.S. by people from several majority-Muslim countries, Uber’s decision to reduce surge pricing during an airport taxi strike in protest sparked a lot of discussion about the brand’s social responsibility. The decision “was appreciated as a responsible act where Uber stepped up to support the consumers who were left stranded at the airport because of the taxi strike,” according to the report.

In fact, the research shows the term “stepped up” had the most positive impact among terms associated with Uber in the period measured. The “delete” of “#DeleteUber” boycott fame also turned up as an influential term, but in a negative way, of course.

Despite the fact that others criticized Uber for “sabotaging” the taxi strike, discussion was split nearly evenly. In all, the Trump-related conversations revolving around Uber and social responsibility were 54% negative.

Uber’s executive leadership also came into question, and according to MavenMagnet, 62% of conversations about the leadership team and CEO Travis Kalanick, who stepped down from President Trump’s economic advisory council, were negative. “Concerns around Kalanick’s ethics were led by his linkages with Trump,” noted the report.

Uber’s net vibe through it all was minus 19%.

In the midst of the #DeleteUber fiasco, Lyft made the bold move to publicly donate $1 million to the ACLU, partly in hopes of reinforcing its pro-immigrant stance to woo people frustrated with Uber.

Only 9% of the conversations tracked around Lyft in relation to Trump were related to the brand’s political leanings, though 67% of those were negative, “led by conservatives who disliked the anti-Trump measure of supporting ACLU.”

Around 30% of the Lyft discussion revolved around social responsibility, although, using MavenMagnet’s metrics as a gauge, the brand’s ACLU donation bet may have backfired. Seventy percent of those conversations were negative. “Lyft’s donation to ACLU was criticized by the right-wing Trump supporters who saw it as an anti-American act of supporting illegal immigrants who were perceived to be responsible for unemployment and terrorism in the country,” MavenMagnet noted.

In all, Lyft, which chose to wade into the treacherous political waters rather than being thrust into them, generated a negative 32% net vibe, not far off from Delta’s 38%.

What they’re saying about autonomous technology

Published in Autonomous News
Web Link:

In the aftermath of the crash, consumers remain optimistic that autonomous drive is the “next big thing in the auto space,” a study shows.

MavenMagnet, a social data research company with offices in New York and Mumbai, India, conducted this study.

The study analyzed 3,081 conversations from Jan. 1 to Aug. 15. The conversations were evenly distributed before and after news of the fatal crash of a Tesla using Autopilot became public on July 30.

MavenMagnet analyzes data from all digital sources — including social networks, communities, forums, chat rooms and product reviews — to provide insights about U.S. attitudes toward emerging and rapidly evolving topics such as autonomous vehicles. Its work for corporate clients has included analysis of more than 40 vehicle nameplates.

Perhaps predictably, online conversations about autonomous vehicles turned markedly negative this summer after a fatal crash involving the driver of a Tesla Model S operated in Autopilot mode.

What’s less predictable — and more encouraging to developers of self-driving vehicles — is that consumers remain optimistic that autonomous drive is the “next big thing in the auto space,” according to a new study done for Automotive News.

MavenMagnet, a social data research company that combs through online discussions, noted the changing attitudes by comparing comments before and after the Tesla accident became news on July 30.

The study sifted through thousands of conversations. It analyzed U.S. consumers, trying to sort out their attitudes toward a disruptive technology with positive and negative possibilities.

“It was not a surprise that safety was a big concern and became a bigger concern,” said Aditya Ghuwalewala, MavenMagnet founder. “What was more surprising was that even after the accident, there was optimism that this was the next big thing.”

Ghuwalewala added that people posting opinions online split over the responsibilities of human drivers and autonomous technology.

“It’s a very engaging topic, from the look of the conversations,” he said.

Another division was between consumers who want to keep driving themselves — except in traffic jams – – and those who apparently can’t wait until they can nap, text or watch a movie while being transported autonomously.

Cleve Langton, MavenMagnet president, said that reflects “the tedium of driving vs. the pleasure of driving: “Oh my God, I face this commute every morning, and if I could just zone out, that would be great.’ And then there’s the visceral satisfaction of driving.”


Context: the virtual box around a quote or conversation. This is the interpreter box that helps you make sense of the conversation. This is the savior box that helps politicians defend pretty much any statement by saying that it was quoted out of context.

So let’s put things into context. We give a whole lot of importance to context when making sense of big social data. The idea is to differentiate between virgin the airline, virgin the mobile and “virgin”–anything that is pure. When you want to extract insights from the perception of your consumers, you got to get rid of conversations that have nothing to do with your brand/product. We at MavenMagnet call it chaos elimination using social mapping technology. The intent is to leave nothing that is in context and keep nothing that is not in that particular context. This helps us analyze a whole lot of relevant and contextual data with high degree of accuracy and provide actionable recommendations swiftly and comprehensively.

The irrationality

We live in an irrational world. Everything from the stock market and consumer buying habits to people’s beliefs and their voting choice is irrational. As a marketer you have to navigate through this irrationality and fit your product in the mix. In other words, you have to accept the irrationality and make sense of it. And that’s where we come in picture.

At an individual level its complete chaos. Even looking at a few dozen maintains the chaos. The chaos normalizes when you take tens of thousands of consumers and their hundreds of thousands of conversations. What emerges out of this exercise is something really beautiful. You get strong patterns that define your consumers, what matters to them and influences them to make decisions in their lives.

The basic idea is to understand your consumers. Develop products that they want. Speak to them in the language they speak. That’s how you will decode the irrationality and become a part of their world.

Expectations from Indian Union Budget 2016

MavenMagnet conducted a study in partnership with The Economic Times published on February 27, 2016. Here’s the link to the study.


A lot of time in air

I recently spent a lot of time in an airplane coast to coast. While typically it is a great way for me to catch-up on my sleep, this trip happened to be a day time thing and I was not very sleepy. So while counting hours to land and thinking of better ways to convince prospective clients to use MavenMagnet services, I realized how being in this box makes doing research outside the box (read use MavenMagnet) such a no-brainer.

Before I talk about the parallels, let’s set the landscape. Day trip flying for 4 hours, no entertainment set in the plane and no wi-fi. So what did this lead to? About 150 people in the plane with nothing to do but either sleep or read or talk. So while having a light conversation with a good looking girl sitting next to me, I was listening to people sitting around me. People were talking about everything from who will be the next president to what they will do if Donald Trump become the President to when will Apple have a new product that is not just a newer version of iPhone or iPad to why season one of House of Cards was so much better than season two.

This was nothing but a minuscule of what conversations on the Internet are and what MavenMagnet scrapes to do market research. No one was asking anyone to talk about a specific thing. The conversation on next president was triggered by a Time magazine cover. The Trump comment was courtesy of the last night Republican primary debate and polls following that. The Apple conversation was triggered by Apple stocks falling down. House of Cards came up as one of many TV shows as a reaction to Golden Globe nominees list.

The Internet is this times millions. People talking among themselves. People talking with people they probably don’t know but have common interests. The kind of insights you can get out of scraping human conversation in an unbiased and unobtrusive way has no parallel out there. What we have developed at MavenMagnet is a set of tools and techniques to parse, dissect and understand these conversations, products in these conversations and people having these conversations. Market research cannot get better than this!

Critical Evaluation

I am a big believer of people being honest, truthful and good in general. But we humans also have a tendency to live in denial. To fix this and keep you on the way to success, what you need is something to measure your performance and optimize it.

Where I am going with this? I had a long pitch the other day, to convince a client to use MavenMagnet to evaluate their campaign performance. The argument client had was that our advertiser, who is running the campaign, is reporting on how well the campaign is doing, so why use MavenMagnet?

So here’s the scenario: An agency that developed your campaign and bought media for your campaign would also do reporting on how the campaign is doing. I was perplexed on why we even had to convince that you need an unbiased service provider, whose expertise is to evaluate campaigns, do the evaluation for you. Why burden the advertising agency, whose expertise is to run the campaign, with evaluating it and maybe fall in the trap of self denial? (Update: We were able to make the case using the superior and cutting-edge features of our product and got support from the advertising, media and PR agency for that).

MavenMagnet campaign evaluation product is the best service out there to measure your campaign on a competitive scale using years of benchmarks. Advertising agencies do a great job using the feedback from this campaign evaluation and course correct to improve the impact of the campaign. The idea is simple and win-win for all: let us partner with you to evaluate your campaign and provide you the analysis of what’s working, what’s not working and recommendations on optimization based on our expertise. Use the evaluation and optimize the campaign and be successful!

MavenMagnet Real-time Event Analyzer analyzes Modi’s independent day address

Article as published in The Economic Times.


Platform and Standards: Part 2

Standards is another great way to create a foundation for something that is sustainable and dependable. In simple words, standards is something that can provide a universal way to understand, measure or use something. Standards have been around for ever. Currency is a standard for doing monetary transactions, kilogram is a standard for measuring weight and meter is a standard for measuring distance. In technology industry, standards are basically Key Performance Indicators or KPI. The popular ones are Google page rank to measure the popularity of a website or Nielsen TV rating to measure the success of a TV show (or MavenMagnet Magnet Score to measure the impact of the elements of your campaign).

The most fundamental element of standards is trust. The way you are measuring something should be fair for mass adoption. Just like it takes a while to build trust, it takes a while for a measurement to become a standard. Another key property of standards is that it should be easy to understand, test and use. The way you calculate the KPI can be as sophisticated as you want, but it should be transparent enough to test and easy enough to report.

Like platforms, standards depend on adoption. The success and failure of standards is dependent on how widely it is adopted. For good or for bad, displacing a well established standard is as hard as anything can be creating yet another competitive advantage for the business and a great barrier to entry in the market.