Two Odette School of Business professors were recently advised that they were successful in a Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative (WCAI) competition for access to an extensive database from a major international travel & tourism company. The project will allow Marketing professor Dr. Dave Bussiere and Information Systems professor Dr. Gokul Bhandari to address the need to match repeat website visitors in the presence of cookie gaps. The dataset includes 30 million ad exposures and 1 million conversions for 10.8 million cookies over 60 days.
“Many companies rely on cookies to identify repeat visitors to their websites,” notes Bussiere. “This becomes a problem, however, when there are intentional or unintentional cookie gaps. Consumers can choose to delete cookies between multiple visits to one vendor’s website. Alternatively, a consumer can return to a vendor’s website from a different location – company versus home computer, searching while traveling, use of multiple devices, etc.”
The proposal suggests a four step process to recognizing returning customers in the presence of cookie gaps. Using an out-of-sample forecasting structure, this research will develop and test a model using the R statistical programming language and Bayesian inference models.
Dr. Bhandari believes that the proposal benefited from the two complementary academic perspectives: “My interests are in data analytics and the use of R language, and when they are combined with Dave’s focus on consumer decision making, this WCAI project seemed like a powerful fit.” With the award of the WCAI project, Dr. Bhandari believes the Odette School of Business has formally ventured into the emerging wave of big data analytics which is expected to exert huge future impact on both research and practice.