Our algorithms have sex

This is the fifth in a series of interviews with members of the Machine Commons supplier Collective. Subscribe to the site to be alerted about future posts, or become a partner today!

Ex-Googler Gabriel Hughes is the CEO and co-founder of Metageni, an AI powered analytics and web optimization firm.

His story is noteworthy because he is the father of modern attribution modelling (true story, see original Google patent) and in December the company was awarded Best Use Of AI in the London Ecommerce Awards, for their work using genetic algorithms to optimize conversion rates.

Gabe seems happy enough despite the pandemic, acknowledging both the polarized views of the public about the various covid-19 restrictions and the fact his own life has been relatively stable compared to some people.

For many working in the machine learning space, life is remarkably normal. We’re all used to working in isolation, from our computers. The trend was already in motion well before masks became a necessary ticket to the outside world.

How’s business been?

“We had three travel clients. We did really well with them for a while, then one particularly successful client pulled out when covid hit… those travel clients didn’t come back again in 2020!”

“It’s been really interesting. A bit of a roller coaster ride. There’s great demand for expert data analytics and we’ve always had an online focus. Ecommerce is looking pretty good – we’ve seen an increase in revenue from these kind of companies.”

“Occasionally it’s difficult to explain ‘AI’ in a way people understand, that machine learning isn’t just a robot thing!”

How did business change after the pandemic?

“The common thread across travel and ecommerce companies is to improve online sales with paid advertising, growing costs. A lot of companies are now experimenting more with SEO (search) and social.”

“I've done this almost my whole career. Analysing the customer journey through to purchase.”

Very hard though, isn’t it, who knows what goes on under the hood with search!

“Well, when I worked at Google, I patented the original attribution modelling in Google Analytics. It then rolled out across G-suite.”

Oh. Right then.

“There’s a few patents I’m associated with from my Google days – multi touch attribution and the attribution modelling tool was the most significant.”

US8788339B2 - Multiple attribution models with return on ad spend - Google Patents

What do you do?

“At Metageni, we’re trying to create objectivity using data based attribution to try and suggest one attribution model is more correct than another.”

“The purpose is to allocate the value of the sale back to the marketing channel so we can better identify ROI of each one.”

“So this is what we did with travel clients, we used customer journey data to compare buyers to the people who don't buy, compare the conversion and identify the contribution of each channel.”

“This identifies each feature’s contributions to each channel, to model what features predict user conversion. In this way, we’re able to allocate budget to those things that predict conversion, therefore increasing ROI of the overall budget.”

“That's the whole raison d'etre of attribution.”