In a study, computers used information from social media accounts to automatically build marketing personas, said James Jansen, professor of information sciences and technology, Penn State. Marketing research professionals typically create these personas to help editors and marketers better understand the behaviors of specific consumer groups, he added. "A lot of times we have to use numbers in decision making, whether that's using numbers in understanding a market segment or an audience base or demographics, for instance," said Jansen. "But it's hard to make a decision looking at a bunch of complex numbers that most people don't understand. One way that has been proposed and implemented in a wide number of domains to understand consumers is through personas. Researchers take a bunch of market data and condense it into a fictitious person." Marketers, who create personas whiteflamesolutions.com manually with data from focus groups, ethnography methods and surveys, can then hold conversations and make decisions based on these personas. "The problem with that, though, is that, in addition to being time consuming and expensive, they can rapidly become obsolete," said Jansen. Computer-drawn personas, on the other hand, not only can be created in real time and at relatively low costs, but they can be updated quickly as economic conditions and demographics continue to change. The researchers developed algorithms to analyze data, such as demographic information, topics of interest and customer interactions, from 188,000 subscribers of a news website.

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