Why Sprockets Will Change Advertising on the Internet Forever

Haven’t heard of this truly intelligent data-mining agent? Well, if you don’t start planning your strategy for this hot emerging technology now, you may miss the most personalized marketing opportunity yet. Get the latest word on the buzz here.

Being a blogger who is well connected has it’s benefits. I just finished an in-depth interview with Sean X. Cummings and Adam Broitman who gave me a sneak peek into the latest game changing technology. What follows is a copy of the strictly-embargoed article they provided on the condition that it be released today.

There has been an incredible buzz over the coming of Sprocket technology, and many people we have spoken with agree that it will fundamentally change the way we approach the interactive space at large. Much in the way the explosion of Facebook enabled breaking down the barriers around content and engagement as it relates to mining your casual friend network, Sprockets will, for the first time, provide us with a holistic picture of what our consumers are doing online, while providing the first truly intelligent data-mining agent for ourselves.

More interactive than widgets

Sprockets are not widgets 2.0 any more than Facebook is MySpace 2.0. They are, however, a technology that finally moves beyond the two-way conversation with consumers, creating an enhanced, multi-directional conversation among the consumer, company, site, data and — more importantly for advertisers — among the Sprockets themselves.

Allow us to get technical here for a minute. Sprockets use passive preference profiling (PPP) and interpretive semantics (IS), giving them the ability to learn. What do we mean by that? Well, remember all the talk we heard about “intelligent agents” or Google’s dream of “artificial intelligence?” Sprockets are the first applications to truly approach that level of automated, interpreted content collection.

The beauty does not stop there. If all Sprockets did was provide consumers with a way they could accomplish more online in less time, and have it be more relevant, it would be a substantial breakthrough. The beauty of Sprockets is that they provide advertisers, marketers and analytics groups with the same type of automation through semantic interpretation; the data, however, is passed along in the reverse direction.

Most companies are keeping their current strategy regarding Sprockets fairly quiet, but by Q3 2008 anyone with a decent online presence will be pushing ahead full-steam. If your company has not figured out how to implement Sprockets, or you don’t have a full-time Sprocket strategist on staff by the end of the year, you are almost definitely going to be on the tail end of this beast, and this is one place where you don’t want to be riding the long tail.

Benefits: real or imagined?

We are often asked, “Are Sprockets really going to change the economics of the internet, or are they just another over-hyped technology?” and “What’s so game changing about Sprockets?”

First: We have seen Sprockets work. We have seen them work in the real world, not a demo. We have observed as Sprockets learn and grow in complexity over the first two weeks of usage.

Second: Sprockets define simplicity. Anyone can develop a Sprocket. The Sprocket Developer’s Kit (SDK) has a simple drag-and-drop, single-screen user interface. The user just connects tubes, called “synaptic tubes,” linking their basic interest points. This process takes 15 minutes, tops!

From there the Sprocket takes over, filling in the gaps with your internet persona while tweaking, augmenting or modifying the few data points given. It does this by monitoring surfing habits, online purchase activity and time spent on content, semantically absorbing the it. The genius is that Sprockets do not store all this data. They retain meta-types of the data in real time. In essence, every page you hit is crawled, indexed and semantically related to your entire history. It is then meta-typed and discarded, retaining only the meta-data.

An open-source legend is born

This is one of the most important developments to ever come out of the open-source community. The initial kernel was programmed by Alexander Dorsay III over the summer of 2006; however, community did not adopt the concept initially. It wasn’t until Anya Khait, an environmental architecture student with a Ph.D in genetics decided to apply techniques and theories from the Biomimicry Institute to the Sprocket kernel that the true power of Sprockets was realized. She developed the “synaptic tubes” and the core engine behind the algorithm modifier based on the growth of Ivy, which is able to grip around any surface and adapt to its environment.

Without getting too deep into the science, let’s say that Sprockets, by design, have a “public you,” and a “private you” setting. By nature, most consumers exhibit a personal dichotomy — their private and public selves. With some, those two personas are almost identical; with others they are quite divergent. Other Facebook-style properties treat you as one self, but you are never just one. The Sprocket dynamically adapts to your activity, not the other way around. You do not choose to tell it “I want to be private today.” The Sprocket dynamically adapts “on the fly” to activity that obscures your secondary profile. They are not separate, but they are distinct. A single synaptic tube links the two personas as it grabs information.

When a Sprocket shares any of the data in the outward direction the entire profile is made anonymous, even down to erasing IP histories, or what is referred to as digital public memory. The intelligence sits in a data-hash in the Sprocket, changing the internal Sprocket algorithm. That is what is different about Sprockets, the algorithm itself dynamically adjusts; not just parameters, but the fundamentals of the algorithm.

The same Sprocket you develop for a website, can be used on any mobile device, or converted with the Sprocket converter to any computer as a standalone app — although you will lose much of the semantically dynamic algorithm modifying aspects of Sprockets that way. They are what the promise of Java was supposed to be before Microsoft derailed it with their own version. However, since Sprockets were built on the foundation of the web, that fear is somewhat mitigated. In fact, it takes advantages of some of the same AJAX technology framework that Web 2.0 does.

Sprockets are not AI

They are merely a highly sophisticated algorithm that uses the collective intelligence as a decisioning engine. The advantage is they don’t make the mistake of using the collective intelligence of the web as it exists now. The sheer volume and mess of the organization of website content makes the collective intelligence there somewhat,  well… stupid. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t need search engines like Google or Ask.com to make sense of it. Instead, they use the collective intelligence of the “Sprocketosphere,” which uses only the intelligent decisions in the data, and not the data itself.

Take a look at comparisons to other popular platforms:

  • Standard website: one-way pull request from the consumer
  • Rich media: one-way pull request from consumer, with engagement
  • Widgets: customization by consumer and selective identification of interest
  • Sprockets: multi-directional conversation with consumer and website, customizable ad tracking, alignment checking and reporting, semantic web gathering and inter-Sprocket communication.

The user no longer has to request the web pages; the Sprockets talk amongst each other, among the web, among your email, SMS, address book and social networking to dynamically deliver to you the zeitgeist of you. When you choose to surf manually, the Sprockets learn your behavior and communicate in-between the other Sprockets to adjust your “algorithm” on who you are and what your interests are online. Best of all? They can do it with the existing structure of the web, requiring no more tagging or special codes to be inserted.

We have heard many promises of the next ‘big’ thing. We have heard about many hyped technologies. Let’s hope that Sprockets don’t go the way of Cold Fusion. In the end Sprockets can only be as intelligent as the user they are learning from. Hopefully, the users reading this article will be one step ahead.

Sean X and Adam were so taken with the potential of Sprockets that they formed SprocketX.com. An open-source company that will produce tools to leverage the potential of the Sprocket kernel.

About Brad Waller

Some say Brad created the first affiliate program. We’ll never know for sure, but we do know that Brad has been running businesses online since 1994 and affiliate programs since 1996. When he is not running the affiliate program for EPage Classifieds, helping publishers monetize their sites with AdJungle, or working on iPhone applications, Brad is also busy starting up the Performance Marketing Alliance, a trade association created to represent and build the entire performance based industry.

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12 Responses to Why Sprockets Will Change Advertising on the Internet Forever

  1. Terry says:

    I'll wait till April Fools Day is over and come back tomorrow.

  2. This is no joke. Advertising is about the change!

  3. Evan says:

    This is like that pitcher that throws 150 mph with a weird motion…no? If not it truly does sounds cool!

  4. Jon says:

    With all due respect: This is all gobbleygook. It just reeks of the pre-bubble mumbo-jumbo business plans that I sifted through for hours everyday.

    "They are, however, a technology that finally moves beyond the two-way conversation with consumers, creating an enhanced, multi-directional conversation among the consumer, company, site, data and — more importantly for advertisers — among the Sprockets themselves."

    This sure looks a business plan I have from 1999.

  5. Jon Clarke says:

    More news, campaigns and uses of sprockets plus how they appear and work. http://www.mediastarz.co.uk/group/sprockets/forum/topic/show?id=732382%3ATopic%3A19028

  6. Brook Schaaf says:

    Dammit, Brad! This sounds like something Wayne would write only gussied up to look more like English. I read the whole thing and still don't understand what a sprocket is supposed to be.

  7. Wayne Porter says:

    Appalachian English or Regular English? 🙂

  8. don says:

    Sprocket? Sounds more like Spocket.

    Beam me up Scottie.

  9. […] I came across a few articles describing sprocket technology or […]

  10. Ernie says:

    3rd quarter 2008 has come and gone, Brad. Not a dig, just a request for how you see Sprockets positioned to affect online activity as of now.

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