Making Machine Learning / AI Practical

One thing we’ve (at Nudge) been toying with and discussing for the last two years is – what’s the best play for machine learning for marketers?

There’s a lot of hype.

And of course, being in the marketing world, only amplified this.

Our lens has been, how does it make you super human? What can it do, practically, today, that makes you better at your job?

Till we found that, we weren’t gonna touch it.

But now I’m excited to share, we’ve got the beginnings of it. The team built a CommonSenseBot, which scans brands content, to find what is or isn’t working. Then lets you know.


We flipped the switch on it and just had it running in parallel. Within a few days it caught a major problem on a campaign, which had it not been identified could have cost the client a lot of money. More money than they pay us! (Yes we need to charge more ha).

Each week we are adding new components as we operationalize our knowledge and experience into it.

As we expand, we’re able to tap machine learning to identify potential problems and wins FASTER through predictions, thus minimizing that time to respond.

To me this passes our test, it’s smart, it’s consumable, it makes your better at your job – and it doesn’t add anything more to your plate. i.e. it does make you superhuman!

The future of this space is not AI as a sector, it’s of smart products which use it to simply enhance and do a better job.

Part of our product inspiration has been Marsbot, a subproduct of FourSquare, which makes recommendations based on where you’ve checked in before, passively in the background. If you haven’t tried it, do check it out.



March 21st, 2017

Mercedes answer to the trolley problem

In case you haven’t caught it, [via WikiPedia] the trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics. The general form of the problem is this: There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the most ethical choice?

A conundrum faced by driverless cars and the software creators behind them.

I liked how Mercedes has dissected the problem and focused on what they can control. Their view is:

Save the life you know you can save. That of the driver.

What they’re saying is, it’s hard to predict all other factors, but they know they can make a decision to save the driver of the car.

Each actor is acting in its own interest, they have to be careful to not over anticipate what they may/may not do.

January 30th, 2017

Augmented reality, the inevitable step in the digitising of our world

Last weekend I waited hours in the cold to pick up the Snap Spectacles.

The week before I picked up the Google Home.

The third device, out in December, is the new Apple Earpods.

I’m keen to play with all of these.

These devices represent the early examples of the inevitable next steps in computing. The digitisation of the real world experiences.

Augmented reality is the next frontier, it’s that little step change which we can all accept and get practical use from today. The vital component required for new innovation to get adopted.

Seems Tim Cook agrees;

“AR is going to take a while, because there are some really hard technology challenges there,” he continued. “But it will happen, it will happen in a big way, and we will wonder when it does, how we ever lived without it. Like we wonder how we lived without our phone today.” MacWorld.

I’ve also shared some of my initial experiments with Google Home.


November 30th, 2016

How about a Black Friday / Cyber Monday for B2B / SAAS tools 

I would like this.

It’s called Black Friday, as it’s when the retailers shift in to the black.

It would be neat if they had the same intention for B2B/SAAS.

One time a year where there’s a bunch of deals, that helps them shift in to the black or at least close out the year strong. 

Of course it doesn’t quite make sense they should always be in the black and/or don’t want to discount.

But I’m sure there’s a way.

November 28th, 2016

Engineering Happiness

We are the sum of our habits.

Our subconscious habitual decisions are what drive our lives.

All these little things; like whether we eat breakfast or not, we go to the gym, or rush to work, these habits impact the rest of our day.

A question then worth asking: Are our habits engineered towards happiness?

I think this is a fascinating topic, what I did last year was sit down and work on what do I do on my best days.

This came down to:

  • A good breakfast
  • Catching up with friends or peers
  • Reading
  • Eating well
  • Focused at work, satisfied with what I worked on today
  • A bit of exercise
  • Quality time with my wife
  • Doing all the little errands or tidy ups, so that I don’t think about them

When I have those in my day, it’s a great day.

And now it’s ingrained into everyday routine.

So it’s worth asking yourself – what things do I do that create a banger of a day?


October 3rd, 2016

Great runners

Runners face this dichotomy.

In a race you need to be aggressive, ambitious, push yourself to the limit, give it all you’ve got.

But to train well you need to push hard and take down time to recover.

I was listening to this interview with Malcolm Gladwell, he was saying it’s half the battle for coaches to encourage runners to rest as by nature they want to keep training! Makes sense.

The great runners are good at both.

The great runners know when to pull back, rest recover and when to swap modes.

It’s a skill that you develop – and a valuable one at that.


August 25th, 2016

Write what you want to talk about OR are talking about

Whenever I get hung up on a piece of work, it’s usually because I’ve focused too much on what others are writing about or what they want you to write about.

I get back in sync by reminding myself, what is it you want to write about.

As that’s the easiest part – and also the most interesting.

August 12th, 2016

Pruning your audience to find the real signal

I just got an email this morning from someone I follow Kevin Rose.

And I wanted to shine light on the quality mantra he is embodying.

Kevin does a monthly newsletter sharing cool stuff called The Journal. Now he made a promise early on to cut out those that weren’t reading. In doing so, he can figure out what his core audience is really in to and give them the best experience.

It’s such a great example.

This is the opening line of todays email:

Kevin Rose Email Journal

Let me repeat that:

Member update: We’ve lost some newsletter subscribers.

We dropped from 61,823 members to 55,787.

I purposely removed 6,036 people that hadn’t opened the last four newsletters.

^ Amazing.

Now the data he is getting and the feedback is only from those that are truly in to what he’s up to.

Also it incentivises him to keep at the top of his game.

He can’t just let another email slip out. It has to be up to the standard of the four – because if it’s not…


August 2nd, 2016

Tablets are untapped

We tend to group Mobile together as one concept.

But a smart phone customer vs a tablet customer are very different customers.

Smart phones have restricted real estate and tends to be someone in a rush. It’s that lean forward analogy, you’re leaning in to pay attention and get what you need.

Tablets are more lean back, casual browsing with more screen real estate.

But so, be careful to not treat them the same. They are different. And it might just be that one of those modes is better for you.

I was reminded of this, when analysing a campaign for a client. We found the attention on Tablets was twice that of Smart Phones. Very interesting. To address that we’re going to surface that data in our insights tab so its easier to find.

But have a think when you’re planning your next digital initiative, how are tablet users going to use our website, our order flow.

How do we optimize to get more tablet consumers? An interesting point of view is that often ad budgets have run out by the afternoon but peak tablet usage is in the evenings. Worth doing some targeting to experiment. With as high as 47% of internet users owning a tablet it could be exactly what you need.


July 31st, 2016

Dumb Data

Dumb Data: any data that hasn’t been enriched with a machine learning / AI layer.

It’s no longer sufficient enough to create and store data, you need to have the intelligence layer on top making sense of it. Automating insight and analysis.

Because if you don’t someone else will.

And then you’re left behind.

This will be the big trend in the next 5 years across most industries and its the realisation of the ‘big data’ trend.

It’s not that we’re going to be thinking about oh this is big data, that is big data, it’s that your regular products will surface insights on your data, and options to act on them.

For example, I’ve been using Gyroscope, an app which connects all your quantified data activity. So it connects productivity data from RescueTime, Step Counts, Movement & location then presents that back to you in a nice dashboard.

At the moment this is dumb data, that’s interesting to know this. But the next step is that in the near future it’ll go, Hey Ben you didn’t catch much sleep last night, we know that impacts your productivity. Maybe cycle to work as that’ll help get you back on track.

This is our inevitable future.

Imagine this, in what you do, whether you’re a teacher, a horse trainer or an entrepreneur.

Exciting times ahead! I can’t wait.

July 31st, 2016

Learnings Chats

This is something we do every month, a dedicated time to talk – asking ourselves what have we learnt? As individuals but also as a company.

How can we improve what we personally do and how does that inform our product.

Suggested by a member of the team and widely embraced it’s been a great success. Each time we do this it creates more change in the right direction. Thus improving the directionality towards our goals.

Then after reading this article from my friend Colin Nagy on how the green berets operate we’ve adopted more frequent learnings chats, after a big pitch, after a product change.

You might ask why should we learn from the green berets or the military from that matter. Well they’re designed to have agile teams which deliver specific objectives. Highly trained to execute missions over and over. And that’s what building a business is like, a stream of specific objectives which need to be constantly executed, evaluated and then adjusted.


July 25th, 2016

Entrepreneurs Limits, They’ll Find You

By nature of entrepreneurs push themselves to the limit.

Whatever your limit is you’ll find it as you force it out of yourself OR the market will. It’s just going to be what happens.

It’s what entrepreneurs recognise in each other, that sense that no matter how far you’ve come you’re focused on that next mountain.

This is the discomfort you have to get comfortable with. It’s like surfing, the waves are endless and once you conquer one there’s another right behind it – but it’s just how it works.

June 2nd, 2016

What if Rental Car Companies Sold like Car Dealers Sell Cars

I find it weird when I’m renting a car you stand inside at a counter renting a ‘generic’ mid size. Cars out of sight out of mind.

Why aren’t they walking me around the lot saying Ben, how about this?

For $20 extra a day you could be driving this or that. 

I suspect people would spend more and enjoy the dramatically.

And it’s a much better experience than the hidden fees trying to make up the margin!

May 13th, 2016

The Inevitable

If you can think it, it’s possible. If it’s possible and you’re determined it’ll become the inevitable.

Case in point, Elon Musk.

May 7th, 2016

Why A/B Testing Never Took Off

By the time you publish something online you’ve done all the hard work, the heavy lifting. You’ve been through design and copywriting, you’ve set up all the goals.

The inertia to get it live is so high that it’s too hard to overcome that again to optimise.

Even though it clearly makes sense.

But so,A/B Testing is incredible but how do you break that out so more people use it?

Predictive Insights.

Taking the A/B Insights and getting them further up the production timeframe.

Letting people upload their website code – and getting insights as they’re producing it.

[stolen from a chat with our CTO Izac]

May 3rd, 2016

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