Superheroes and Predictive Analytics

Captain America The Winter Soldier
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is also a lesson in predictive analytics.

(Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment)

This past weekend, my wife and I were watching my favorite superhero movie (again) “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” One of the most intriguing scenes in the film was when Steve Rogers/Captain America (played by Chris Evans) interrogated S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez) about the terrorist group Hydra’s plan with Project: Insight. Sitwell revealed that Hydra developed the “Zola algorithm,” a formula that predicts can be a threat to Hydra’s reign by using historical data to determine future activity.

My wife said, “Only in a superhero movie.” I responded, “No, it’s predictive analytics.”

What Is Predictive Analytics?

In addition to being a superhero movie with a suspenseful plot, “Captain America: The Winter Solider” introduced the concept of predictive analytics to the masses. Predictive analytics is a data-mining practice that uses a variety of statistical techniques to analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future or otherwise unknown events. The analytic models capture relationships among the data to assess risk or potential associated with the conditions, guiding decision making or transactions.

While it sounds like something out of science fiction, predictive analytics is a standard tool used in many fields, such as insurance, healthcare, actuarial science and retail. The common use of predictive analytics is in credit scoring, where financial companies use scoring models to process a customer’s credit history, payment history and other personal data to rank individuals by their likelihood to make future payments.

The Future of Marketing?

Predictive analytics can help uncover new business opportunities that can increase marketing campaign effectiveness, maximize profitability and minimize customer churn.

(Image courtesy of STAT Labs)

Dmitri Williams, the founder of social analytics company Ninja Metrics, estimates that just five to 10 percent of social media users are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of influence (Wallace, para. 5). Predictive analytics software helps provide greater insight by highlighting the early indicators of interest and purchase behavior. It looks at keywords used when social media users post, and the sites they visit when they talk about products.

By using predictive analytics, marketers can gain greater insight by highlighting the early indicators of interest and purchase behavior. So with a little creativity, marketers use predictive analytics with emerging media to become a superhero of epic, digital proportions.


Wallace, L. (n.d.) “Impact of predictive analytics on advocacy-based social media marketing.” Software Advice. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from



Beyoncé Breaks the Internet … Again

Beyonce Knowles
Singer Beyoncé Knowles at the halftime performance for Super Bowl 50. (COURTESY: The Associated Press)

On Feb. 6, Beyoncé released the song and video to her latest song, “Formation,” on Feb. 6. The song and video featured several provocative images: A post-Hurricane Katrina setting, a black American boy dancing in front of armed police officers and the words “Stop shooting us (in reference to high-profile shootings involving black males by the police):”

(SOURCE: YouTube)

On Feb. 7, Beyoncé followed up by performing “Formation” during halftime of Super Bowl 50:

(SOURCE: YouTube)

And just before her Super Bowl performance, Beyoncé completed her marketing hat trick by announcing she will be starting a new world tour, starting April 27 in Miami.

Of course, this is not the first time Beyoncé has broken the Internet by marketing through emerging media. In 2013, Beyoncé released her self-titled album by posting an Instagram video with the caption “Surprise!” announcing a new “visual” album featuring 14 songs and 17 videos (Marechal, para. 2).

This is a promotional picture from "Beyoncé," the fifth solo album from the singer Beyoncé.
This is a promotional picture from “Beyoncé,” the fifth solo album from the singer Beyoncé. (COURTESY: Columbia Records)

Social platforms frantically propelled the promotion from viral buzz; according to data provided by Twitter, the release generated over 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours and mentions of Beyoncé spiked by 500,000 tweets in 24 hours. (Lipshutz, para. 2). The album, released digitally to the iTunes Store without prior announcement or promotion, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Beyoncé sold more than 600,000 copies in the United States in three days, making it the fastest-selling album in the history of the iTunes Store.

From a marketing standpoint, Beyoncé is using social media as an influential way to reach audiences. The release of new content to fans and the general public comes across as a “direct gift” without any commercial mediation. The strategy involves strong online customer engagement, a large fan base to promote content freely and a strong emphasis on word of mouth. By relying on her considerable following, Beyoncé demonstrated the power of emerging media as a potent marketing tool.

Beyoncé (2016, Feb. 6). Formation (clean).” YouTube [Video file]. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

Lipshutz, J. (2013, Dec. 13). “Beyoncé’s surprise album: 20 tweets from mind-blown musicians. Billboard. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

Marechal, A..J. (2013, Dec. 13). “Beyoncé discreetly releases album, breaks the Internet.” Variety. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

Melina & Friends (2016, Feb. 7). “Beyoncé & Bruno Mars Formation Super Bowl 2016 halftime show.”  YouTube [Video file]. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from