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Tech Talk, Developer Tips & Press Releases from 49 Research

Psychology and the Eyes

June 12, 2011

Creating software is never strictly an engineering effort. Generally, multiple skill sets go into creating any piece of technology. Sure there are people with computer science & mathematics skills and people with artistic skills, but did you know that psychology plays an important role in the creation of many applications?! Often this comes in the form of a field known as human-computer interaction (HCI) that is used to make systems more usable, but in general each piece of software is different and how each of them can benefit from this psychology can be different.

Human eyes tend to have an effect on the psychology of others. We know that it's the eyes that tend to make a doll, robot or computer generated character seem alive. [1][2] But the eyes have more "power" than that.

Psychology researchers have found that even photos of eyes can exert social pressure.

In one experiment, researchers alternated hanging posters of staring human faces and posters of flowers on the walls of a cafe. The researchers then counted the number of people who cleaned their plates and rubbish away after finishing their meal in both situations. During periods when the posters of faces were on the walls, watching over the diners, twice as many people cleaned up, compared to the periods when the pictures of flowers were overlooking the diners, when more litter was left for cafe workers to clear away.

In another study the same researchers, looked at the impact of images of eyes on contributions to an honesty box in a tea room. They found that people put nearly three times more money in the box when there were eyes compared with flowers.

Of course, although there are modal reactions to social pressure, (statistically speaking) it is not absolute. Knowing your application's audience or user base is important. But nonetheless a finding such as this one has applications to online advertising, converting users for software with freemium business models, gaming, and more.

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49 Research Facebook Page

November 13, 2010

For those who have not found it already, 49 Research has a Facebook Page at:

http://www.facebook.com/49research

When you get there, click the "Like" button at the top of our Facebook page!

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Facebook Page Post Formats In The Wild

November 12, 2010

Facebook Pages have become an important tool for online advertising and online marketing. Through the Facebook News Feed, Facebook Pages provide you with a way of putting ads (in the form of Facebook Page wall posts) in front of the eyes of people who have "liked" your Facebook Page.

And while there are hoops you must jump through to get your posts to show up on your like-ers' Facebook News Feeds, once you have jumped through those hoops you have free advertising delivered to a targeted audience. (Well, "free" other than whatever cost you incurred for the acquisition of your audience).

But once you have that audience of like-ers, online advertising and online marketing dynamics come into play. Simply putting the ads in front of them probably isn't enough, and things like trying to increase Click-Through Rate (CTR) become important.

One strategy that can help to increase your CTR is to look at what others are doing, and learn from them. As such, below we present some Facebook Page post formats "in the wild".

Here are some samples "in the wild" from EA Sports FIFA Superstars:

Here are some samples "in the wild" from Superhero City:

Here are some samples "in the wild" from Playfish:

Here are some samples "in the wild" from FarmVille Cows:

Here are some samples "in the wild" from Marvel:

Some commonalities we can draw from these samples are:

  1. Include images. (We already know from traditional online advertising that display advertising, using image ads, do tend to have higher click-through rates, and tend to help draw people's attention to the ad.)
  2. Have a "call to action" URL.
  3. Try to draw attention to your "call to action" URL.

Of course any technique being used needs to be tested and measured for effectiveness, but these "hints" can help you get started.

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The Psycholoy of Numbers

October 26, 2010

How do you set the price of your product or service?! How do you choose what to discount your items to in your social game?! How do your predict what sale price will increase the numbers sales?! You might think most people will tend to consider a lower price to be better, but according one study you would be mistaken.

One thing you learn from psychology is that most people are not rational. Some are more rational than others, but most are not rational.

One might think that if someone is looking for a "best" deal, that they would perceive the lower price as being "better", as this would be what is rational. However, this is not the case with most people. The way the numbers of a price sound can affect most people's perception of which price they think is the "better" deal. For example, participants [in the psychological study] perceived a $10 item marked down to $7.66 to be a greater discount than a $10 item discounted to $7.22 when those prices were said out load. [T]he higher price (with its silky s’s) makes a smaller sound than the lower price (with its rattling t’s).

The moral one can take from this is, as irrational as it is, small sounds give most people the impression of a better deal.

Because of the acoustic properties of our vocal apparatus, some words just sound bigger than others. The back vowels (the “u” in buck) sound bigger than the front vowels (the “i” in sis), and the stops (the “b” in buck) sound bigger than the fricatives (the “s” in sis). As it turns out, in well over 100 languages, the words that denote bigness are made with bigger sounds.

Previous research has demonstrated that people associate certain vowel and consonant sounds with perceptions of physical size. For example, front vowels (like a long a, e, i) and fricatives (like the English f, z, and s) have been shown to convey smallness, while back vowels (sounds like the /u/ in goose or the sound in foot) indicate largeness.

"Phonetic symbolism affects price perceptions because consumers typically process, encode, and retain numbers (and hence prices) in memory in multiple formats," the authors write. Consumers encode what a price looks like and sounds like along with a relative numeric value that the price represents (such as, "It is inexpensive").

"Thus, sounds associated with the auditory representation can impact the numeric value associated with the analog representation -- that is, small sounds can create the impression of big deals," the authors write.

(Source 1) (Source 2)

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What We Are Working On (And Can Talk About) – Oct 19, 2010

October 19, 2010

Much of the work 49 Research does is under NDA. Our willingness to work under NDA is one of the things that makes some clients choose 49 Research.

In another world, discussing the projects we have worked on would make an interesting book, not to mention would look good on our results page. But alas, we live in this world and we honor the NDA commitments we have made. There are times, however, when there is no NDA in effect, and we are permitted to talk about what we are working on.

As a software development house we work on all sorts of projects, depending on the clients' needs. (And there are certain specialties we have as a company.) Whether it be creating online advertising networks, creating software for the oil & gas industry, creating Facebook applications, creating mobile phone applications, creating licensed gaming applications, or creating online games.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so without further ado, here is a picture from one of the games we are currently developing (and are permitted to talk about):

(Obviously an online game targeted at males.)

More on this project and other projects later.

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Social Networking, Online Gaming, and E-mail

October 13, 2010

It's interesting to see what people do when they're online. A new report that came out says that 3 online activities dominate people's online time in the U.S: social networking/blogs, online games, and e-mail.

In fact, online gaming (which would include social gaming) has overtaken e-mail (putting online gaming in the #2 spot and e-mail in the #3 spot).

(Link)

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Welcome to the Team: Simon and Gabriel

September 30, 2010

49 Research welcomes two new people to the 49 Research Team.

Simon Chen joins 49 Research's Engineering Team as a Software Engineer.

F. Gabriel Gosselin joins 49 Research's Engineering Team as a Software Engineer.

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skPartial version 0.0.2

September 4, 2010

Here at 49 Research, we are an active member of the open source community. Both as a consumers and creators of open source software.

We have released a new version of skPartial. skPartial adds templating "partial" capabilities to SkinnyMVC. (Users of Symfony will recognize this as being similar to "partials" in Symfony.)

Version 0.0.2 of skPartial gives developers the ability to send parameters to the template "partials".

You can get skPartial from: http://skinnymvc.com/addons/skpartial/

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Google Social Gaming

August 4, 2010

Rumors are going around that Google is making a play for the social gaming market, with something that might be called "Google Me".

If the rumors are true, it would not be surprising given how lucrative social gaming has become. Although, perhaps that is not the real reason Google is making this move. My impression is that one of the main reason's for Facebook's recent popularity seems to be social games. If the rumors are true, then Google may just be using social gaming as a strategy to help make their next attempt at social networking a success.

Google is no stranger to the social networking world. They previously purchased Orkut, which although popular in Brazil and India, is barely heard of in North America. Google also recently launched Google Buzz, which unfortunately for Google, thus far, seems to have had disappointing adoption rates. (I.e., not many people seem to be actually using it in any meaningful way.) Perhaps this social gaming strategy will help making Google's next attempt at capturing the social networking market gain some traction.

From a social game developer point-of-view, though, significant competition on the social networking end is definitely welcome. It could case social networks to give "better terms" to social game developers.

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