At the end of 2011, we launched Digital Vision, a new grant program to allow aspiring thought leaders to conduct new research in the areas of advertising and marketing.

Today we announce the five award winners selected from the scores of applications we received. These winning ideas will receive grants of up to $10,000 USD in addition to research support and publicity from us.

The Digital Vision grant winners will be featured at South by Southwest (SXSW), March 12 in Austin, TX. Their proposed projects include:                                                       
Allison Aldridge-Saur: Redefining digital “Tribes” using Native American tribal practices

Allison has worked in the high tech and web field for the past 12 years. As a member of the Chickasaw Nation, she jumped at the chance to leverage Digital Media to support the tribal business initiatives that fund services for Chickasaw and Native Americans.   

“Tribe” has become a popular social media marketing term that just hints at a deeper human experience. Allison will look at how Native American tribal characteristics reveal substantive practices that build stronger, more fulfilling and highly committed online communities. The first piece of her research will launch during South by Southwest (SXSW) this March.
Julia Nalven: Applying mathematical analysis to marketing campaigns

Julia Nalven is a mathematician who uses analytical methods to answer the most pressing questions in the online advertising industry. She currently works for Vizu, a technology company focused on real-time ad campaign measurement. She is seeking to expand the use of mathematical analysis to influence the advertising decision-making process. Julia holds a BA in Applied Math from the UC Berkeley and an MS in Applied Math from the University of Washington.   

Julia will be conducting research on how to apply mathematical analysis to the optimization of online brand advertising campaigns. Her theory is that rigorous data analysis will lead to an optimization strategy that will maximize impact of a brand’s ad budget.

Boris Grinkot: Creating a better conversion optimization model

Boris Grinkot’s conversion optimization work with Fortune 500 and international clients includes experimental design, e-commerce and content strategy, and lead generation. He holds an MBA from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from Cornell.

Through his research, Boris will be showing how one-off case studies and “universal” best practices fail in tests has been a favorite topic among conversion optimization experts. As marketers, we want to learn from each other’s successes, but attempts to replicate them tend to fail. This project will provide marketers with heuristic tools to determine optimization and testing opportunities for their websites based on years of consulting, teaching, and secondary research.

Douglas Karr: Testing for the ‘tipping points’ in social media

Douglas is the author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies, Chief Blogger/Founder of the Marketing Technology Blog and CEO of DK New Media. Douglas and his team specialize in performing due diligence analysis of marketing technology companies for venture capital and investment firms.

Does it make sense to get 5,000 fake twitter followers? Unfortunately, the answer may be yes. Douglas will test the impact of accelerating sharing and counts for different social media outlets. His goal is to show that numbers have a psychological impact when it comes to theories regarding ‘herd’ behavior. If marketers realize this, they can better prepare by driving early counts with incentives to overcome the negative impact of low counts.
Dewita Soeharjono: How Social Media will change the non-profits landscape

Dewita works with a number of non-profit organisations to help them use social media to benefit their campaigns and grow awareness.

Dewita is looking to see what percentage of the 1.5M non-profits actually use or integrate social media into their online activities (fundraising, recruiting volunteers and communications). From this research she will publish a series of case studies/ interviews with non-profits using social media leading to a collected piece with key findings and practical advice.

The projects proposed by our five winners will be produced in the first half of 2012. Some of the winners will discuss their upcoming research at the Digital Vision launch party at SXSW so do join us.