Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative to Support the Hearst Challenge, a Contest to Increase E-Mail Relevancy

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In partnership with Hearst Magazines and the Direct Marketing Association’s Analytics Council, the contest begins on June 1

PHILADELPHIA — The Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative (WCAI), a research center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, announced today that it will be partnering with Hearst Magazines and the Direct Marketing Association’s Analytics Council on the second annual Hearst Challenge. Competitors in the Hearst Challenge will create an analytical model to predict an individual’s likelihood to open and respond to an e-mail promotion. The team who makes the most accurate prediction will be announced at the DMA2011 Conference in Boston in October and will receive a $25,000 prize.

WCAI’s involvement with the Hearst Challenge brings a new aspect to the competition, as the Initiative will be judging an additional Most Innovative Method Award. Top-scoring algorithms will be eligible for a special prize of $5,000 for the most innovative method. Submissions will be judged for their contribution to the development of novel data mining and statistical methods. Competitors who wish to be considered for this award should include in their submission a brief description (less than 1,000 words) of their algorithm highlighting the innovative aspects of the approach and an explanation of why this method is well suited to this problem.

According to Elea McDonnell Feit, Ph.D., Research Director for WCAI, “Special consideration will be given to algorithms that are well suited to the general problem of predicting response to promotional e-mails and are not too specifically tailored to the data provided for the competition.”

The winner of this award will also be invited to make a presentation at DMA2011 in Boston, along with the teams that make the most accurate predictions. This special prize will be judged by Dr. Feit and Professors Eric Bradlow and Peter Fader, Co-Directors of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative.

“Given the success of last year’s competition, we are excited to once again sponsor the Hearst Challenge,” said Charlie Swift, vice president – database strategy & marketing, Hearst. “We value our partnership with the analytic community and hope that bringing in the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative will add an appealing twist to this year’s submissions. We look forward to learning about viable solutions together.”

About the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative

The Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative is the preeminent academic research center focusing on the development and application of customer analytic methods. Acting as “matchmaker” between academia and industry, WCAI has a broad impact on the practice of data-driven business decision-making and the dissemination of relevant insights to managers, students and policy makers. Based in the Wharton School’s Marketing Department and designed to capitalize on Wharton’s longstanding strength in conducting empirical research, WCAI is an interdisciplinary effort that brings a passionate data-driven perspective unmatched by any other business school.

About the Wharton School

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania— founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school — is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. The most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world, Wharton bridges research and practice through its broad engagement with the global business community. The School has more than 4,800 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 9,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and an alumni network of 86,000 graduates.

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