Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have partnered with eBay to create an innovative social media monitoring tool to track consumer trends and influencers, helping brands better connect with Gen Z.
The sixteen to twenty-four age bracket are a tech savvy group that don’t hang out on traditional media channels, so reaching them is a herculean challenge for marketers.
“Commonly used marketing approaches such as online ads and search engine optimisation fail to attract Gen Z, so businesses such as eBay are keen to find new ways to increase engagement,” says professor Guandong Xu from the Data Science and Machine Intelligence Laboratory at UTS.
“Micro-video platforms such as TikTok have grown in popularity, particularly with Gen Z who make up nearly 70 per cent of users. TikTok has the second-largest spend of any app so understanding what works on these channels is essential for marketers.”
TikTok videos come with rich multimedia content that includes images, text and audio. The researchers were able to harness this multimodal data to provide unique insights on Gen Z users, to enable the development of more effective marketing strategies.
In collaboration with Mr Dingxian Wang, the science manager of customer science of global growth at eBay, they developed an easy-to-use social media dashboard that discovers trending topics and their corresponding top influencers and matches products to current topics.
The monitoring tool adopts powerful neural network architecture and machine learning for its core algorithm, leveraging the distributed search engine as its data infrastructure, to make its recommendations.
The project was selected by the eBay leadership team as a top three Leaders Choice Award recipient out of 2000 international submissions.
A collaborative research paper was also recently presented and nominated as a finalist for best paper at the recent 30th ACM International Conference on Information & Knowledge Management.
“A deep understanding of customer behaviour can provide critical information to help e-commerce companies, such as eBay, deliver responsive, timely and creative marketing campaigns,” says Professor Guandong Xu.
He added, “There are millions of potential customers using smartphones to search for, compare and purchase products online, so we expect the new technology delivered by this project will significantly increase the new customer conversion rate for eBay.”
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