Computer Science and Marketing: A Developing Relationship
Computer science was birthed as a solitary discipline with its roots in mathematics. It eventually became a standard degree program and gained widespread acceptance as it overcame the challenges of a once-skeptical intellectual environment. Yet, as the field expanded and the internet dominated the territory, the union of marketing and complex algorithms started to form a new school of thought that is just beginning to catch fire.
The Link to Marketing
The search engine Google, arguably the king of the internet, in 2008, offered a $50,000 grant entitled “Google and WPP Marketing Research Awards Program.” Today, it offers 11 research proposals of $80,000 each. Its purpose was to fund academic research for media interaction, relevance measurement, verticals and new media, and audience engagement.
The awards program website lists the following:
We encourage creative theory development and empirical analysis to help solve marketing and advertising problems, so a wide range of methodologies and approaches are welcome. In order to facilitate research in these areas, Google and WPP will make available useful marketing data to qualified academics conducting research in this program.
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This passage suggests applying a computer science model to assist with devising solutions to marketing issues. Google welcomes all approaches and scientific data with an emphasis placed on creativity.
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In his blog, Chief Marketing technologist Scott Brinker discusses the future of computer science and how it will bleed into the marketing industry. He mentioned an MIT talk in which Christos Papadimitriou, computer science expert, referred to “computer science as the new math.” Scott referred to this definition and alluded to the fact that the field is slowly becoming applicable to many industries instead of being an isolated discipline. Christos cited marked breakthroughs where composter science influenced the physics, biology and social science sectors.
Computer science has now become a major constituent of the social sciences as it relates to the internet. The dynamic of social networking is improved by understanding how people behave and their patterns, which can be measured scientifically. Marketers can utilize this data to improve their methods and more effectively reach people and covert them to buying customers. According to Scott, “Computational problems in marketing are sounding more and more like theoretical computer science dissertations.”
The Marketing Connection
Marketing has become more technologically oriented. By simply researching the aspects of web analytics and search engine optimization, we see scientific formulas and complex algorithms used to determine a rich user experience. Google’s own algorithm has been prodded, tweaked and improved by programmers of all disciplines. Marketers have been plotting away in an attempt to discover the hidden details of this complex algorithm to rank their websites higher in the search engine results.
Scott believes marketers who possess knowledge of technology have a competitive edge. With a plethora of new technologies dangled in front of marketers tempting them to increase their skills, it is evident that a relationship between the two fields would greatly work in one’s favor. Similar to how copywriting has presently become an integral component of online marketing, computer science will soon be one spoke of the marketing wheel that helps the industry seamlessly roll into its new level of influence. According to Scott, “The worldview of computer science needs to be cross-pollinated throughout marketing, even if it emanates from only a small percentage of the team.”
Colleges and universities are discovering the link between computer science and a higher level of success in the workplace. As a result, many are offering computer science as courses in “unrelated” degree programs or encouraging graduates of other disciplines to earn a computer science degree.
The University of Tennessee at Martin offers a management degree that includes classes such as Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Computer science. Oregon State University introduced a new degree concept that will allow students who earned a bachelor’s degree to participate in an online bachelor’s degree program in computer science. The school believes the degree will enhance students’ careers regardless of the industry to create more value in the workplace.
According to Terri Fiez, head of the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, “The need for expertise in computer science has now become so pervasive that these skills can be paired with almost any type of other college degree to create something more valued than either one would be separately. Industry experts we’re working with are thrilled with this idea. We call it ‘one plus one equals three’.”
These positive results are the catalysts for the expansion of this exciting new relationship. Only time will tell how far it will go, but according to present statistics, the future looks promising
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