What exactly is machine-learning as it relates to artificial intelligence?

Machine learning, at the intersection of technology and behavioral research, is a field of computer science that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. AI is broader. Anything that can make a machine or software do something that would usually require a thinking person is artificial intelligence.


What is an Animated Persona?

An Animated Persona is a machine learning agent trained to have content consumption interests that match a targeted population segment. Once created, Animated Personas autonomously access the Internet where they keep abreast of content that is of interest to the segment they represent.  This ability allows clients to spot changing trends within their target market and ensures that the responses of Animated Personas to client message tests always reflect current customer preferences.


What is the relationship between Animated Personas and humans?

Animated Personas mirror the behavioral patterns, expressed desires, and preferences of actual human population segments. Once created, Animated Personas are plugged into the Internet, where they read and view material appropriate to their interests. For segmentation research, the output from Personas is more accurately representative than the output from individual people because it relies on something closer to a census, so clients get a profile of behavior that cannot be obtained from small samples of respondents that may not be representative of their respective universes.


What is an important difference between a human and an Animated Persona in terms of the way each behaves?

An important difference is the large volume of information an Animated Persona reviews every day. While an individual human is exposed to a small subset of the Internet and reviews information sporadically, an Animated Persona represents a large population segment and examines large amounts of content every day. Essentially, an Animated Persona speeds up the learning process compared to a human since more information is reviewed in a shorter period of time.


What is an important similarity between a human and an Animated Persona in terms of the way each behaves?

Just like humans, Animated Personas’ current interests and reading material influence what they look at in the future. Consequently, their interests can change over time, as happens with humans. Sometimes, as is also the case with humans, Animated Personas are relatively stable since there may be little variance in their reading. At other times, Animated Personas get “excited” about new topics that are related to their interests. As this exciting topic starts to age, Animated Personas, like humans, move on to other things.


Can data from a traditional research effort be used to create Animated Personas?

Yes. PersonaPanels can create Animated Personas from a variety of sources, including data from a client’s previous research efforts, data from other sources such as Nielsen Homescan or Spectra, a client’s own segmentation descriptions, and more.


Can different data sets be combined and then used to construct Animated Personas?



Does PersonaPanels have existing panels of Animated Personas that can be used or must panels always be custom created?

PersonaPanels currently has two panels of Animated Personas available for immediate use: our Millennial Panel, comprised of 6 distinct segments of the U.S. millennial market, and our Homescan Panel, which was developed using data from Nielsen’s Homescan households and is available for use by companies that are existing Nielsen clients.  Both panels provide insight into the concerns and trends of important market segments.  We also can custom create Animated Persona panels that mirror a client’s current or targeted customers, along with the purchase patterns and attitudinal characteristics of this population segment.  We work with clients to determine what type of panel best meets their research needs.


What does an Animated Persona consist of?

An Animated Persona consists of a set of interest topics constructed in a taxonomy format based on the specific information used to build it.


Can you provide a visual representation of the taxonomy behind Animated Personas?

Below is a visual representation of a simplified taxonomy connected to one of our Millennial Personas, named Environmental Millennials.



How do Animated Personas stay current with market trends?

Once Animated Personas are created, they begin to access the Internet where they evolve in real time, scanning the web and viewing tens of thousands of pieces of content that are most interesting to them. Animated Personas are affected by what they see, and that informs their interests going forward. Animated Personas have interests that evolve based on what they are exposed to and the relative popularity of the material they have seen. The more aligned a piece of content is with the Animated Persona’s interests, the more likely that Animated Persona is to be influenced by it and to change over time.This ability to evolve ensures that Animated Persons stay current with market trends.


Does PersonaPanels designate all the sites that Animated Personas visit or do Animated Personas operate on their own once they are given a foundation of sites?

Animated Personas operate on their own once they have been created. although we do have the ability to direct them to read specific sources if our clients desire.


Why is it important to know what an Animated Persona is viewing and how interested it is in the material?

On its own, what an Animated Persona is reading reveals current customer trends. More importantly, though, Animated Personas incorporate the things they find interesting into their personalities, just as human beings do. This ensures that when we pose research questions to the Animated Personas, we will get responses that reflect each Animated Persona’s current view. This also ensures that we can conduct research with Animated Personas at different periods of time to see if attitudes toward products are changing.


How does an Animated Persona measure its interest in the Internet content it reads?

Animated Personas can be built based on multiple data sets covering everything from demographics to purchase habits to survey responses and more. These data sets come together and form an array of interest graphs for each Animated Persona. Once Animated Personas are created, the machine learning process scrapes 30,000+ sources each day from the Internet and connects the most relevant content to the Animated Persona, given the Animated Persona’s particular interest graphs. An interest score for every piece of content is created by matching the content against the interest graph. The higher the interest score, the more closely it matches up against the interest graph.


Do Animated Personas access social media sites?

No, these sites are not accessed because the posts are not reliably long enough.


Can Animated Personas process sounds and images?

No, not at this time, but it is a future goal. However, if images can be described in words, Animated Personas can read the descriptions.


Can Animated Personas access YouTube videos?

Yes, but the videos will need transcriptions. If transcriptions are present, Animated Personas can read them.


Can Animated Personas access sites that require logins or subscriptions?

Animated Personas do not normally access sites that require logins or subscriptions. However, if a client needs particular sites with login requirement to be accessed, we can direct the Animated Personas to do so as long as this does not violate the site’s Terms of Service.  If content from a restricted site is reproduced or quoted on other popular sites, as often happens with Internet content, the Animated Personas will run across it during the normal course of their reading.


Can Animated Personas distinguish between advertisements and articles when they access a website?

Yes. Animated Personas are able to make this distinction and will not read advertisements.


Can Animated Personas be directed to specific content on the Internet?

Animated Personas normally are allowed to autonomously select the content they read in order to provide clients with an unbiased insight into trends within a population segment.  However, if a client’s research requires it, we can customize the journey of an Animated Persona. For example, we can define the geographic regions an Animated Persona accesses to ensure information is reviewed from a global perspective.


As Animated Personas mature, do they become less interested in what they read on the Internet or are shown by clients?

No, an Animated Persona’s interest in the material it reads on the Internet is only impacted by the content of the material and how aligned that content is with the Animated Persona’s own programmed and evolving characteristics, not by how long ago the Animated Persona was created.  This is also true of an Animated Persona’s responses to a client’s message or concept tests. This is one of the benefits of Animated Personas – they do not become static over time.


Do Animated Personas ever go to a site and then decide not to review something?

No, if they access it, they review it. However, just like humans, sometimes they show more, or less, interest in what they’ve seen, so we only record sites where they have shown a statistically significant interest.


Do Animated Personas evolve at an even pace or, like humans, is there great variance in terms of the degree to which they integrate information?

Animated Personas are affected by what is going on in the wider web. If a lot of activity is happening one day and less another within an Animated Persona’s areas of interest, there will be variance in how the Animated Persona is affected.


Do Animated Personas' interests evolve over time?



Why does an Animated Persona’s interests evolve over time?

The interests of a Persona are influenced by what it reads given the set of interest topics associated with the Animated Persona. This means that an Animated Persona can start from one area of interest and be led to another area of interest until that topic and its many sub-topics fades from popularity. For example, the “Environmental Millennials” Persona may be very interested in a new game that is months from launch because of everything it has read. At some point just after its launch, if the game received negative reviews, the Animated Persona’s interest could start to wane.


Once Animated Personas are created, how quickly do their interests begin to evolve?

Animated Personas can begin to integrate new information and evolve new interests within twenty-four hours of being created.


Once Animated Personas are created, how quickly can a client's new concepts and message tests be evaluated by them?

Once the Animated  Personas have been created and begin to acquire information, messaging and concepts can be put in front of them immediately.


If what an Animated Persona reads can influence its reaction to a client's message tests, is there a “filter” placed on this review process? In other words, does what an Animated Persona read 3 months ago have as much impact as what it read last night?

Animated Personas are like humans in the sense that their core values and personality traits will always have the greatest impact on their reaction to the concepts and messages that clients put in front of them, but information they read also can impact their reactions. The degree to which online material influences their current views is a combination of the degree of interest they have in the material and how recently the material was accessed. So articles with lower interest scores have less influence on the Animated Persona’s current views and responses to client message tests than articles with high interest scores, just as articles that were accessed weeks or months ago have less influence than articles accessed yesterday.


When an Animated Persona is exposed to a client's message or concept test, what is the “overall interest score” that is produced?

Just like humans, an Animated Persona’s interest in a message or idea never occurs in isolation, but instead is influenced by all its experiences and preferences. In other words, an Animated Persona’s interest in a message or idea occurs within the context of its “overall interests.” For example, when an Animated Persona is exposed to a marketing campaign, the Animated Persona takes into account all its interests before it decides if and how much it likes the campaign.


Can you provide a visual illustration of how the client's message and the Animated Persona’s overall interest areas interact?

In the simplified example below, a client has created a message (“Message 1”) for one of our Animated Personas to evaluate (“Environmental Millennials”), The Animated Persona accesses the entirety of its programmed interests and the interests acquired by it during its machine learning phases and determines the percentage of alignment between the client’s message and it’s own interests.  This becomes the Persona’s “Overall Interest” in the client’s message.  In this illustration, the Animated Persona’s overall interest score would be 40% because only 40% of the information in the message overlapped with the particular interest areas of the Animated Persona.



When a client’s concept is put in front of an Animated Persona and the Animated Persona gives the concept an overall interest score, is the score cumulative in nature (reflecting everything the Animated Persona has experienced throughout its life)?

Animated Personas are composed of both permanent and transitory characteristics.  The permanent characteristics consist of attributes that have been programmed into the Animated Persona as part of its personality.  These traits remain consistent over time.  Animated Personas also read material on the web and are influenced by this material.  This material tends to have transitory influence over an Animated Persona unless the content is repeatedly reinforced by additional material over a prolonged period of time.  When an Animated Persona evaluates a client’s message or concept, it pulls from both its permanent and transitory influences, resulting in message scores that reflect whatever is going on with an Animated Persona at that particular moment, similar to a human when survey questions are being answered at that moment-in-time. However, scores can be captured at specific time intervals to see how the Animated Persona’s preferences are changing or staying consistent over time.


Can the Animated Persona’s interest in a concept be compared with a human's interest in the same concept?

Yes, the results can be compared as long as the Animated Persona and the human represent a similar segment of the population. For example, we can put your ad in front of a consumer and in front of an Animated Persona representing a similar consumer segment and create 5 quantiles (0-20, 21-40, 41-60, 61-80, 81-100) for their answers to fall into and then compare results.


When an Animated Persona is reviewing a concept, it not only produces an overall interest score for that concept, it also reveals a topic that is resonating with the Animated Persona as the concept is being reviewed. How does a topic score relate to the overall interest score that an Animated Persona gives a client's concept?

An Animated Persona is constructed as a hierarchy of topics and sub-topics built to represent the mind of that Animated Persona. When a score is reported for one topic area, that shows how much overlap there is for just that topic.


Can you provide a visual illustration of how the interest score of the primary topic is determined when an Animated Persona reviews a client's messages or concepts?

In the simplified example below, a client has created a message or concept (“Message 1”) for one of our Millennial Personas to evaluate (“Environmental Millennials”).  The Animated Persona accesses the hierarchy of topics and subtopics built into its programming and acquired by it during its time on the Internet (“Topic 1”, “Topic 2”, “Topic 3,” “Topic 4”).  It then selects the topic that best aligns with the message (in this example, “Topic 3”).  The degree of overlap between the client’s message and the topic is the Animated Persona’s Topic Interest Score for the client’s message.



What are some of the advantages of conducting research through Personas as opposed to traditional research methods?

Let’s start with the important fact that Personas do not get fatigued so the number of questions they’re willing to answer and the length of time they devote to an exercise is not a factor. Next, traditional research uses relatively small sample sizes, whereas with Personas, we can move more toward a census. Third, there tends to be a variance in concentration among respondents. Personas do not have ebbs & flows in concentration levels. Fourth, we know that respondents can answer questions in one way and behave in another. This is never the case with Personas, which respond honestly and exhibit no tendency to try to “please the questioner.” Fifth, sometimes humans have issues that cause timeline delays in projects, resulting in missed deadlines. This will never happen with Personas. Sixth, using Personas for your research needs allows you to maximize privacy since sensitive topics are not being reviewed by humans. In traditional research, these sensitive topics can leak out in unintended ways, causing problems for the client company. Seventh, most research engagements represent a point in time when data was acquired through respondents. More often than not, the data ages quickly and its value to decision-making fades. Personas’ machine learning capabilities mean that they are constantly evolving to reflect current market trends resulting in data that is always up-to-date and relevant. Finally, panels of Personas can be accessed as often as a client desires, with no expensive incentives needed for respondent participation. Repeatable experiments result in better strategic decision-making.


What company is behind the technology used by PersonaPanels?

PersonaPanels works with Tanjo, a dynamic leader in the field of artificial intelligence.


Has PersonaPanels established any partnerships at this time?

Yes, PersonaPanels has been accepted in Nielsen’s Connect Partner Network and has developed Animated Personas using the vast Nielsen Homescan database. Nielsen’s Connect Partner Network is an elect group with inclusion based on innovation.


What types of traditional research lend themselves to the use of Animated Personas?

The best traditional application of Personas is concept and message testing.  In addition, Animated  Personas have a “non-traditional” ability to monitor Internet material that is appealing to their market segment in order to help clients identify evolving customer interests.


Are there certain types of research that would not be appropriate for Animated Personas?

Yes. One example would be message recall work with respondents who saw sales representatives. This would not be an appropriate application for Animated  Personas.

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