James’s Musings

thoughts, photography, and geeky stuff
from an unrelentingly curious Silicon Valley entrepreneur

Sometimes it’s Worth Believing in Coincidence…

by James G. Beldock on July 12, 2006

Sometimes, we live in an impossibly–in this case lu­di­crous­ly–small world. Last night, I had the plea­sure of at­tend­ing an event hon­or­ing the Always On Top 100 pri­vate­ly-held com­pa­nies, one of which I’m hap­py to say my com­pa­ny, ShotSpotter, was named yes­ter­day. (For those in­ter­est­ed, here’s in­for­ma­tion about the event and award: http://stanfordsummit.goingon.com/permalink/post/866) The event was host­ed by the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab, run by my friend Louise Velasquez.

As I was stand­ing on line to get a drink (cran­ber­ry and lime–I’m fight­ing a cold), I stared list­less­ly at the name tag of the fel­low stand­ing next to me, hop­ing it would ring a bell, or oth­er­wise save me from con­tem­plat­ing my longer-than-de­sir­able dis­tance from the bar.

It did.

The fellow’s name tag read “Michel Floyd, CTO and Senior VP, Knowledge Networks.” His com­pa­ny was be­ing hon­ored last night al­so. It took a min­ute, but I fi­nal­ly re­mem­bered that Knowledge Networks is the polling or­ga­ni­za­tion that per­formed the study blogged about last week to you all on be­half of PIPA. So I asked him if it was the same Knowledge Networks, and in­deed it was (is). He knew all about the study (in fact, it was his work), and he pro­ceed­ed to re­gale me with fur­ther in­ter­est­ing sta­tis­tics about how the Fox view­er­ship sep­a­rates it­self from oth­er main­stream news. He has field­ed many an irate call from NewsCorp about that study, and has de­fend­ed it of­ten enough that he’s pret­ty prac­ticed at it. Of course, I couldn’t re­sist test­ing him, so I bugged him about se­lec­tion bi­as on the PBS/NPR view­ers, which he thought about for a min­ute and then be­gan to ar­gue against–only half-way con­vinc­ing­ly.

Michel has promised to for­ward me some of his oth­er tid­bits, and I will send them out to the list as soon as I get them. One of them is this: Fox view­ers are twice as like­ly to re­mem­ber the brand names ad­ver­tised in com­mer­cials than are the view­ers of CNN. Twice as like­ly. Why? How? He’s go­ing to for­ward me the data.

I sup­pose this goes to prove that the world is ab­surd­ly small. What are the chances that I would have dis­cussed the study and blogged it eight days ear­lier? That I would we await­ing my cran­ber­ry-cum-high fruc­tose corn syrup next to him? That his com­pa­ny would re­ceive an AO100 award the same year mine did?

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Michel Floyd August 11, 2006 at 1:44 am

Hi James, thanks for the plug!

Just wanted to clear up a couple items from your post:

The PIPA study was not my personal work although it was performed by my company. I take no credit for thinking this one up (it was PIPA’s research that was executed by our Government/Academic practice headed by Dr. Michael Dennis.

I believe the call from News Corp went to Dr. Gale Metzger, also of Knowledge Networks. It’s a bit legendary at KN. It’s a pitfall of doing both public policy work and client work. Sometimes the public policy side comes up with results that aren’t appreciated by some clients. I’m glad we never did work for Enron as I would not have enjoyed fielding calls from Lay or Skilling!

As far as selection bias of NPR listeners/PBS viewers, the poll was conducted amongst a genpop random sample so we ended up with a natural incidence of the NPR/PBS audience. Whether this audience is more intellectual and better able to separate truth from fiction in news stories is a discussion which will require more beer or wine to complete. An Annenberg study found that Daily Show viewers are significantly more informed about current events than regular network viewers. To me this ties with John Cleese’s observation that people have better recall of things that they laughed at. The regular evening news is often so depressing that I for one want to forget it as soon as possible.

The study of advertising engagement comparing FNC viewers with CNN and MSNBC was conducted by Maura Clancey (who leads the KN/SRI media team) in conjunction with Paul Rittenberg at Fox News.

My favorite Fox News tidbit which I culled from our massive profile database is that there is nearly perfect correlation between how often people watch Fox News and how much they enjoy NASCAR. If I ran FNC (a completely absurd hypothetical) I would sponsor a NASCAR car. (Here’s why) Perhaps they already do? Or if there’s already perfect correlation maybe it’s redundant. I’m too busy watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to know!

(Of course these opinions are my own and don’t reflect the opinions of my colleages at KN, our clients, or of the company itself. Not that a company can actually have opinions but that’s a different issue.)

Michel Floyd August 11, 2006 at 1:58 am

Oh yes, and regrettably KN didn’t win an AO100 award this year! Maybe soon although we may be a bit big for those already.

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