Capturing Our Interest: Most Popular Sharks

exelate shark week

Discovery’s famous Shark Week™ has kicked off once again! Deadly and hypnotic, there is something about sharks that everyone finds interesting, fascinating, and a bit scary. We looked at data from a popular website that maintains information on wild animals, and with over 100,000 users looking at information on various sea creatures, the great white shark was the one people were the most interested in! In fact, sharks captured 4 of the top 10 most popular sea creatures, with the other 3 being the whale shark, the bull shark and the hammerhead. There is something about these dangerous creatures that makes us want to know more.

Don’t let it keep you out of the water though. In 2012 sharks attacked 53 people in the US, with one fatality. Dangerous? Perhaps. But to put that in perspective, there were almost a million dog attacks and 38 dog attack fatalities in the same year. So keep an eye out, but don’t skip that tropical vacation.

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eXelate’s data eXcellence awards: The Winners

We’re excited to announce the winners for the first ever data eXcellence awards!

Thank you to everyone who nominated. Check out all the awards talk on Twitter and see the pictures below and on our Facebook page!


Top 3 Publisher Nominations:

Matchflow, Manta, TNS

Winner: Manta

Top 3 Platform Nominations:

Media iQ Digital, Videology, x+1

Winner: x+1

Top 3 eXelate Partner Nominations:

Bizo, Nielsen Online Audience Segments – TV Viewing, MasterCard Advisors

Winner: Nielsen Online Audience Segments – TV Viewing

Top 3 Agency Nominations: 

VivaKi, OMD, Xaxis

Winner: VivaKi

Top 3 Non-Advertising Nominations:

American Society of Clinical Oncology, The Polaris Project/Google Giving, Knewton

Winner: Knewton


eXelate’s data eXcellence awards

This Thursday, eXelate will host its first-ever data eXcellence awardsThe awards are the industry’s first and only event celebrating the innovative use of data for smart marketing decisions.

Every second, digital media organizations worldwide leverage online data. Whether it’s for reaching a highly niche audience, understanding the profile of a brand’s consumer, or converting buyers as they traverse the web, data is the catalyst for smarter marketing decisions.

This week, we will highlight one organization from five categories – agencies, publishers, platforms, eXelate partners, and organizations outside of digital advertising – who have implemented our data to achieve dramatic results. We asked the entire industry: 1) what was your business challenge? 2) how did you use data to solve that challenge? and 3) what results were achieved? We look forward to discovering the winners on Thursday night.


To request an invitation to the almost-sold out event, please click here.

Follow all the event excitement on Twitter with #eXelateawards. 

Safe from Nature: Interest in Public Safety during Summer

exelate disaster safety

Occasionally, we remember that the internet offers more than cats and memes. In some instances, it can be lifesaving, such as when it helps to spread information about an ongoing disaster, or provides safety tips to those affected by such an event.  Given the amount of natural disasters we have seen already this summer, we took a look at some of our data that shows interest in public safety.

While not unexpected, it was clear that safety and preparation tips for disasters are most frequently accessed immediately following a large event. On May 20, an EF5 tornado touched down in Moore, OK, devastating residential areas and schools. Following this major event, traffic to websites about disaster safety increased more than 100%, indicating how important these resources are. Even when examining American websites, distant disasters such as the tremendous floods in India and Nepal in June will cause small jumps in traffic.

As a rule, some disasters such as tornados and hurricanes display strong patterns of seasonality. The tornado season is especially visible, falling dramatically as we move into moved into mid-summer.  On the other hand, disasters such as earthquakes display significantly less seasonality, being a year-round threat.

While we focused on examining the most common types of disasters, the Red Cross can provide you with the information you need to be ready for anything from drought to tsunamis.

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Charitable Giving in the USA

exelate charitable giving

Charitable giving is one of the greatest things we can do to help our fellow man. We decided to take a look at some of the patterns of charity occurring this July within different age groups to see what would emerge. What did was expected, but interesting. The choice of charity seemed to reflect empathy with those in similar situations.

Looking at Generation Y, education was a huge concern, receiving the plurality of attention, followed by social services and welfare- a broad category containing everything from supporting veterans to the impoverished. Gen X followed these trends, but third place is where they differed: Gen Y broke slightly towards health related charities, while Gen X placed more emphasis on religious charities.

As we get to those in the Boomer generation and older, interests changed dramatically. Religion remained in third place, much like their younger Gen X counterparts. New to the mix was politics, with increased political donations correlating with the higher voting participation rates among older citizens. Social services moved up to the number one spot, the only charity type to cross every age group!

On a final note, this does not entirely capture the full range of charitable giving in the United States. In fact, with all things considered, religious donations are the dominant type of charitable giving in America. Tithing and church collections add up to enormous numbers of offline donations which are difficult to capture using web data.

Charity is a big part of the culture here at eXelate – take a look at some pictures from past community service events we have participated in.

Mobile Shopping: Growing Fast, If Unevenly

exelate mobile shopping interests

Mobile shopping has continued to grow since the introduction of Smart Phones, and took a huge leap forward with the introduction of the tablet. In 2012, 11% of all online shopping was done on mobile devices. In 2013, this is expected to reach 15%. By 2016, 1 in 4 online sales will be completed on a mobile device. eMarketer reported just yesterday that US mobile payments are on track to top $1 billion in 2013.

We took a look at a range of shopping segments for June, in order to see how much interest was generated by users on mobile devices, vs. desktop computers. From shoes to food to fashion, mobile shopping continues to grow, but unevenly across segments.

Shoes were in the top plot, with 24% of shopping, including browsing and purchasing, coming from mobile users. This is followed closely by women’s fashion, comfortably beating men’s fashion in mobile browsing. This is despite the fact that men are more likely to shop using mobile devices overall.

PC video games came in at last place. With most video games immediately available for direct download, it makes sense we would see this. While you can watch a trailer or read the news about a game on your phone, you typically need to download it to a PC in order to play it.

In today’s digital world, it’s critical to focus on a mobile strategy, and to be aware of where your company fits within the larger retail ecosystem. Be prepared to harness the power of mobile!

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A Little Bit Country, a LOT Rock ‘n Roll: American Musical Interest

exelate data snax 7.5.13“R-O-C-K in the USA” seems to be alive and well! This week, our data team looked at different musical interests between males and females as well as across different age groups. Between country western, hip hop, jazz, and rock, rock took the cake as the most popular genre among all genders and ages. Some other insights:

  • Country western seems to be gaining popularity – more so for women than men, almost edging out rock as the top musical interest for women.
  • Hip hop and rap are most popular among the young, with a steady downward line in interest as age increases. However, it seems that some folks over 50 are still enjoying it!
  • Apparently, jazz is a genre for a select few – interest for both genders plummets and all age groups show a relatively equal amount of disinterest for it.

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Summer Interests: American Grillers


Happy First Day of Summer! To celebrate, we decided to take a look at one of our own favorite outdoor activities – the quintessential American BBQ.

Barbequing, or grilling, is a massively popular form of cooking in America. A full 75% of American households own a grill, and almost half of them grill year round.

We examined a full month’s worth of data in order to find out what BBQers are doing, and it turns out that May featured some intense interest in the Northeast. Not only does the Northeast have the most BBQers in the nation, but they were finally getting the weather to enjoy it. Connecticut, Maryland and Massachusetts led the pack, with the most per capita BBQ interest in the nation. But don’t worry, BBQing is popular nationwide.

It may surprise you that we look for BBQers at all. In fact, we found over 7 MILLION unique users looking for BBQ information or supplies in May alone. So what are you waiting for? Get the grill and beer out. It’s summer!

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U.S. Sports Abroad- European Interest in American Sports

American Sport in EuropeThis week we wanted to take a quick look at the popularity of the “Big 3” American sports in Europe. We examined browsing patterns for May, with an interest in which countries were most focused on news about which sport. We definitely found some interesting patterns.

This sort of snapshot is highly time-dependent. Interest in sports waxes and wanes as sports seasons come and go. These numbers were taken during the MLB and NBA regular seasons, but after the Superbowl, and these two ‘in season’ sports dominate the map.  Germany, which has the largest number of players in the Confederation of European Baseball, dominated baseball interest. This was shared with Spain, where baseball was introduced early by Latin American enthusiasts, and many Eastern European nations.

Basketball news was the winner in large parts of Europe. In fact, had it been included, college basketball was actually more popular than any of the three major sports for a few countries. Of course, we can’t discount Americans living and traveling abroad, trying to keep up with their home team swinging some results!

Surprisingly, despite being in the off-season, NFL news was still being actively read more than other sports in a few countries. We can only hope it shows real interest and not people confused by which “football” they were reading about!

Notes from Brian Morrissey: Data and its Discontents

brian-morrisseyAt Digiday we have this thing we call Buzzword Bingo at events. The idea is that people get a prize by plotting out various buzzwords. I like to have a side bet nowadays of what will get checked off first: “native advertising” or “Big Data.” I don’t have the numbers totally crunched but I’m pretty sure Big Data is in the lead.

This is normal. Big changes – think the cloud – frequently become marketing terms that quickly lose all semblance of meaning. It’s easy to poke fun at them, or even dismiss their importance entirely. That would be a mistake with Big Data. It means something – but that something has been lost by all the marketing that’s overwhelmed it.

I say this because I feel that our ability to collect so much data, crunch it, etc. has sometimes caused us to lose sight of the ultimate goal. Take publishing. In my role as editor, data is incredibly important. I look at data from Google Analytics, Chartbeat and sharing services in order to determine answers to a few simple questions: 1) Is what we’re doing working? 2) What should we do? Now this data is an input. It’s just that. Our audience development manager, who is very young, mentioned to me that Upworthy uses about 200 versions of a headline to see which one will work. That’s OK to me, but it’s also a bit of a shortcut. In the end, I can’t make editorial decisions based purely on the numbers. All our stories would be Top 15 Worst Brand Screwups in Social Media. Our goals of building a strong brand and a loyal audience that respects us for honest coverage of important issues would be compromised. There’s not an algorithm for that. It’s a sensibility.

Data is an input that will help. When it comes to digital media, data is about two things from my point of view.

Data allows companies to better serve their customers. This isn’t new – companies have always relied on data. It’s just that now, there’s a lot more of it. The really interesting part about data is when companies improve their services for customers. This is the promise of Big Data to me. I go back to Amazon’s collaborative filtering technology. At the risk of sounding like the old guy my millennial colleagues like to paint me to be, this was a game changer. Suddenly I was able to find related products of interest to me. I knew full well Amazon was tracking my purchases and browsing to do this. And I loved it! Same with Netflix – I love it tracking me. I want it to track me. I need it to track me. I want it to figure out for me what to watch.

Data allows digital media to be more efficient and useful. In this world of data, we should see fewer, better ads. That’s the promise. We operate online leaving a digital bread crumb trail. Nothing is free in life. The implicit tradeoff is that we’ll allow publishers and advertisers to responsibly use this data in order to improve the ads we see to pay for the content and services we use. This is noble, and important – and I’m not saying that because eXelate bought me a lovely lunch. You can feel the “but” coming here, right?

The simple truth is the promise of Big Data in advertising is confusing. There’s an idea on the data side of this business that marketers must speak the language of technologists and not vice versa. We see this all the time in how the many technology companies try to explain what they do. Khurrum (Malik, CMO eXelate) and I were talking the other day, and he brought up the concept of the tyranny of knowledge. It fits perfectly for one of the biggest challenges of this industry: how to simply explain what it does. Too often there’s an assumption on the part of the data-crunching techies that everyone understands this – or should. It leads to people on the marketing side not asking simple questions for fear of looking foolish. But these are the questions that need to be asked: How does what you do help me serve my customers better? How can it help make advertising better and more efficient?

That brings me to where I see this idea of Big Data going. And it’s away. It’s like how social media is fading into the ether. “Social” is part of everything. I’d coopt something Charlene Li said years ago about social: It’s like air. So too is data. It’s everywhere. It’s not a feature, it’s the environment. Once we get over this idea that data is something new and exotic, to be mined maniacally, collected and protected zealously, we can get back to what I mentioned at the outset: How can we use these raw data inputs to help people? How can data be used to tell better stories? How can data improve services and even create entirely new ones?

To answer these questions, it is necessary to move a step further from Big Data – it’s time for quality over quantity.

Brian Morrissey is the Editor in Chief of Digiday. Follow him on Twitter @bmorrissey.