Oct 5 15

Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th edition

by Joseph

NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics It’s with great pleasure and a little pride that we announce Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat “4th EDITION” part is important. We know lots of people are waiting for Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and it’s next in the queue.

But until then…

Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION is about 100 pages longer than the previous editions and about 10$US cheaper. Why? Because Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation is next in the queue.

Some Notes About This Book

I’m actually writing Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation right now. In the process of doing that, we realized we needed to add an index to this book. We also wanted to make a full color ebook version available to NextStage Members (it’s a download on the Member welcome page. And if you’re not already a member, what are you waiting for?)

In the process of making a full color version, we realized we’d misplaced some of the original slides and, of course, the charting software had changed since we originally published this volume (same information, different charting system). Also Susan and Jennifer “The Editress” Day wanted the images standardized as much as possible.

We included an Appendix B – Proofs (starting on page 187) for the curious and updated Appendix C – Further Readings (starting on page 236). We migrated a blog used for reference purposes so there may be more or less reference sources and modified some sections with more recent information.

So this edition has a few more pages and a few different pages. It may have an extra quote or two floating around.

You also need to know that Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History is a “Let’s explore the possibilities” book, not a “How to do it” book. As such, it deals with how NextStage did it (not to mention things that happened along the way). It does not explain how you can do it. This book’s purpose is to open a new territory to you and give you some basic tools for exploration.

There are no magic bullets, quick fixes, simple demonstrations, et cetera, that will turn you into jedis, gurus, kings, queens, samurai, rock stars, mavens, heroes, thought leaders, so on and so forth.

How to Do It starts with Volume II: Experience and Expectation and continues through future volumes in this series. We’ve included a Volume II: Experience and Expectation preview with a How to Do It example on page 302 so you can take a peek if that’s your interest.

That noted, I’m quite sure that you won’t get the full benefit of future volumes without reading this one because unless you’ve read this one you won’t understand the territory you’re exploring in those future volumes.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat’s Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION. It’s so good and so good for you! Buy a copy or two today!

Feb 10 15

NSOS – About NextStage OnSite

by Susan Carrabis

NextStage OnSite Digital Property Traffic Monitoring Tool

Use: Pure and simple, you login and get your report. Clean, quick, simple and neat because we like it that way.

NextStage OnSite (NSOS) is a visitor analysis tool based on Nextstage’s patented and award winning Evolution Technology (ET). ET is the only patent (as far as we know) granted by the USPTO that “allows machines to understand and respond to human thought“.

NextStage OnSite Basic consists of up to thirty (30) reports that work on any digital property regardless of site or visitor language. Clients may contact NextStage regarding adding reports as additional costs may be involved. Each NSOS installation includes one (1) day of consulting/month. Clients may purchase additional consulting at US$5,000/day.

NextStage OnSite Advanced requires visitor native language knowledge, adds an additional thirty (30) reports and is only available to select clients and researchers (contact NextStage for details).

NextStage OnSite Basic or Advanced require a minimum of 5,000 unique visitors per time period to report properly. The only tagging requirement is a simple JavaScript tag between the </BODY> and </HTML> tag on each website page you want monitored. Mobile properties are monitored slightly differently although the ease of installation is the same. Clients are given password access to their reports.

Basic Onsite reports include:


The Age report determines the demographic age breakdown of visitors to your site.

Visitor Age Analysis


This report measures if visitors are being branded while they’re on your site. Technically, it measures how much of the visitors’ deep and long-term learning channels are active while they’re on the site and how well the site as a whole passes information into those channels. There are several learning channels depending on how and where and for how long you want information stored. You want visitors to remember a site/product/brand as separate and unique from other sites/products/brands they’re visiting because they can only return to a site if they remember it exists in the first place.
That, in a nutshell, is branding.


Conversion Factors

This graph shows eight easily modifiable factors need to be adjusted to increase conversions. The yellow bar indicates how much each page is contributing to the conversion, the blue indicates how much the visitor is contributing to the conversion and the red indicates the importance visitors are attributing to each factor. A red dot above the yellow and blue bar indicates the page needs to contribute more to a given factor to increase conversions. A red dot in a blue area indicates visitors are contributing too much information — information you have no control over — to the decision process. The eight conversion factors measured are:

  • Can the individual imagine themselves using/doing something?
  • Would the individual really use the product or would it just collect dust?
  • Can the product, service, whatever be successfully worked into their current lifestyle or would getting whatever require a change in their lifestyle? (Note that this may or may not be a positive experience based on other factors)
  • Has the individual had any experience with this or a similar product/information?
  • Is the individual using this or a similar product?
  • Has, does or will the individual have a need for this or a similar product?
  • Does individual believe they will have or have they had pleasure due to the product, service, whatever?
  • Does individual believe they will have or have they had pain due to the product, service, whatever?

Purchase/Exchange Stop


The Credibility report measures if site visitors found the information on your site Credible (believable), Uncredible (they want to believe and want substantiating information) and Incredible (they simply don’t believe it).



Defection is the counterpoint to Loyalty. Loyalty measures a willingness to endure pain while Defection measures how long that pain will be endured before the individual “goes to the other side”. This report lists “Days to Defection” in the horizontal axis. Note that this report is actually measuring visitor subjective time (what the visitor thinks, not necessarily what they’ll do although the two usually coincide). The report examples shown here indicates that NextStage site visitors tend to be both loyal and have no interest in defecting.

Time To Defection

Engagement by Gender

The Engagement by Gender report shows you if males or females are more interested in your site and/or are shopping your site more carefully.

Engagement by Gender

Engagement by Page

The Engagement by Page report determines which pages are generating the most interest (across all users) on your site, and is a measure of visitors motivation to purchase, exchange, conduct business, etc., on a page by page basis.

Engagement by Page

Engagement by URL

The Engagement by URL report determines which URLS — hence which geographic locations — are sending you visitors most interested in your site/service/product/offerings. This report matches levels of engagement to distinct URLs, indicating which visitors and which geographies are the most likely buyers. Knowing this information directly guides your on- and off-line marketing efforts. You learn quickly where to direct your collateral efforts and can measure how successful recent efforts have been.

Engagement by URL

Engagement by Time Period

The Engagement by Time Period report indicates when visitors to your website are in a “buying” or “conversion” mood. Certain companies will bid on search terms during specific time periods because they know that’s when ‘the fish are biting.’ The Engagement by Time Period report shows when ‘the fish are biting’ on your website.

Engagement by Time Period


Expectation is the basic, gut level desire visitors have of satisfying some need when they come to your site. That need can be finding goods, getting or finding some service, getting information, making contact, servicing their account, whatever it was they made them want to visit your site in the first place. Expectations can be low, medium or high. Measuring expectation is crucial in designing material so that it quickly helps visitors achieve their goals.



This report measures the basic, gut level reaction a visitor has to your website. Visitors can have a good experience, a bad experience or be indifferent. Knowing Experience is key to everything about making sure your message gets across, that your product gets purchased, or that your site gets and keeps people coming back. People will remember extremes, so you want their experience to be either good or bad. In either case, they’ll return. If it was a good experience, they’ll return because they enjoyed it or were successful. If it was a bad experience, they’ll return with friends to show them how bad it was. You never want visitors to go away indifferent. People remember bests and worsts meals, people, cars, movies, music, … Can you remember the best meal you ever ate? Can you remember the worst? What about the most average meal? Ever had a really incredible dining experience at a burgerjoint? You don’t want your website to be a burgerjoint.


Failure Pages

Which pages are causing visitors to lose interest in staying on your site, in what you have to offer, etc.? The PageFailures report measures which pages are causing visitors to lose interest in your offering and convincing them to look elsewhere. Often these “failure pages” precede “last page visited” by 2-3 clicks. Companies who redesign “last page visited” are wasting their efforts because the decision to leave a site is made before that last page is reached. The Failure Pages report insures you’re focusing your efforts where they’ll generate the greatest reward.

Failure Pages

Failures Pages to Exits

Failure Pages to Exits measures the difference between the page where a visitor lost interest to the page where they actually left a site. This chart shows the page where interest died and how many pages later the visitor actually left a site. Most people get a metric of which page visitors left on and begin modifying that page. That’s a nice exercise and not at all useful because the page visitors left on isn’t usually the page where they lost interest in continuing. Think of it this way; You’re shopping for a car. Something about the car you’re looking at right now doesn’t work for you. Do you immediately walk away from that car or do you spend a little bit of time talking yourself out of the car? Most people spend a little bit of time talking themselves out of the car before they move onto the next car (meaning they’ll continue shopping on your site, maybe) or leave the dealership (meaning they’ll leave your site, probably). That little bit of time talking to themselves equates to continuing on a site for a few more pages before they leave. Your goal at this point is to regain their interest on those few pages you have left. Think of it as a salesperson recognizing interest has waned and directing the client to what the salesperson knows was of interest, picking up the thread of the sale and moving on from there.

Page Failures to Exits

Gender Ratio

How many men and women are visiting your site? What is being determined is not physical gender but neurologic gender aspect; are people thinking using traditionally recognized ‘female’ neurologic aspects or traditionally recognized ‘male’ neurologic aspects. Knowing neurologic gender is far more important than knowing physical gender; if a man is choosing clothing using his color sense you want to market to his feminine side, not his male side.

Male/Female Visitor Ratio


Loyalty is the amount of pain an individual is willing to endure to either be with or to use something when they know less pain would be involved either being with or using something else. This is also known as “strength of commitment” to a site or brand. Knowing Visitor Loyalty and knowing how far that loyalty can be pushed before disloyalty sets in tells you how much and how well your clients and visitors think of your site or brand.



Navigation measures how much work was required by a site’s visitors to find what they wanted and whether their problem solving skills were up to the task. Essentially, navigating a website can be likened to moving through a maze. You know where you are, aren’t sure of where you were and don’t know if the next turn will get you any closer to where you want to be. Mazes, though, are often designed to test problem solving skills. Often people design websites that they can navigate easily in the mistaken belief everyone thinks the way they do and hence solves problems in much the same way. If a site isn’t designed for the majority of visitors then visitors will find it difficult and/or intractable and go away confused, disappointed and probably worse. Ease of Navigation is a crucial metric for designers, developers, website owners, ecommerce providers, etc. It doesn’t matter if a site is easy to navigate by the people who designed the website, it only matters if visitors to the website can find what they want.

Ease of Navigation

Page Target Audience

The Page Target Audience Report is a page by page listing of pages and their target audience. It reports Gender, Life Experience (Neurologic Age), Understandability (Neurocognitive Age), and Decision/Learning Style. Page Target Audiences are metrics of who a site can best communicate to on a page by page basis. This is not a measure of who is coming to your site.

Page Target Audience

Price vs Product

This chart shows whether or not people believed the value (for ecommerce) or benefit (for informational or educational) of what was offered was worth the price (for ecommerce) or time involved (for informational or educational). In addition, this chart shows whether or not visitors wanted more product selection or less and whether or not visitors would purchase the product if the price was higher or lower.

Price vs Product

Real Visitors by Address

How many people per session where actually visiting your site as opposed to how many cookies or logins were on your site?

Real Visitors by URL/Address/Location/Name

Referral Quality

Referral Quality is a measure of which referral sources are sending you visitors most motivated to purchase, exchange, conduct business, etc. You want to have highly motivated visitors to an eCommerce site because highly motivated visitors are usually pre-qualified buyers.

Referral Quality

Referral Quality by Time Period and Level of Interest

Referral Quality is a measure of how motivated site visitors are to purchase, exchange, conduct business, etc. You want to have highly motivated visitors to an eCommerce site because highly motivated visitors are usually pre-qualified buyers. Referral Quality by Time Period merely adds the dimension of time, so you’ll know when the most motivated visitors were using which search engines and looking for what. Knowing Referral Quality from referring sites — especially if you’re paying for SEO, clicks, etc. — is incredibly important. You want to make sure your money is being spent wisely. These graphs show you which search engines are sending you the most qualified visitors. You would want to bid on the engine giving you the most highly motivated visitors, and specifically on the search terms that are used by the most highly motivated people.

Referral Quality by Time Period and Level of Interest

Return Ratio

Return Ratio is a measure of how strongly your site influenced a visitor to return. A strong enough negative experience will cause visitors to stay away, a strong enough positive experience will cause visitors to return, tell their friends and spend money — whether or not they found what they originally came to your site for.

Return Ratio


People think, act and make decisions based on an incredible number of factors. NextStage codifies these different ways of thinking, acting and making decisions as RichPersonae. Material such as websites, brochures, etc., are designed for specific RichPersonae, intentionally or not. This chart shows visitor RichPersonae versus material design RichPersonae The ideal is to have a close match between the two. For more information on decision styles, read NSE Evolution Technology Research Paper – Evolution Technology as an Adjunct to Decision Support Systems.


Search Term Quality

Search Term Quality is a measure of what search engine terms the most motivated visitors to a site are using to find you. You want to have highly motivated visitors to an eCommerce site because highly motivated visitors are usually pre-qualified buyers. This chart measures search terms used to find your site by engagement (see Attention, Engagement and Trust: The Internet Trinity and Websites for NextStage’s definition of “engagement”) displayed while on your site. The higher the engagement the higher the interest and if they’re not purchasing, there’s problems on your site you’re probably unaware of.

Term Quality

Seek Effort

Seek Effort is a measure of how much work visitors are doing to find what they want on a site’s pages and is closely tied to PageFailures, the pages where visitors’ interest wanes and or leaves completely. The higher the Seek Effort score, the worse the page for keeping people on track to meeting both their and your goals. Seek Effort also measures which pages are providing more information than visitors can comfortably and successfully use. Pages which are too complex, are not easily learned or retained, contribute to visitors leaving your site.

Search Interactions

Site Target Audience

The Site Target Audience Report determines the best audience for your site as a whole as it currently exists in the system. It reports Gender, Life Experience (Neurologic Age), Understandability (Neurocognitive Age), and Decision/Learning Style.

Site Target Audience


Success measures whether or not visitors were able to find what they came looking for and is closely tied to the Tirekickers report. Visitors who considered their time on your site unsuccessful will go away confused, disappointed and probably worse. An excellent report has the Site and Visitor lines

  • Close together
  • Equidistant at all points
  • Spiking at the same point

Thus you want a lines that increase from Entry to Exit or at least decrease little after MidVisit.



The Suggestions Reports contain specific information on how to modify your site in order to provide your visitors with the most rewarding experience possible. Suggestions are broken down as Critical (red), Important (yellow) and Advisable (green).


Tirekickers to Buyers Breakdown

The Tirekickers Report indicates how many of your site visitors are serious buyers versus how many are just doing research, and where they are in their research. For example, the first category is ‘Grazing’ and indicates how many site visitors are basically channel surfing and stopped on your site for no real reason. The different gradations then go to ‘Making a Decision’, ‘Not the Decision Maker’ and onto ‘Buying’. Remember, this doesn’t mean they will buy from your website, only that they want to buy something while they’re on your website. A higher “Buying” value than your conversions indicates your site needs work.

Tirekickers to Buyers Breakdown


This report determines if visitors can understand your site. Note that this is a measure of whether your site, your menu structure, your content, etc., is understandable to visitors. If the majority of visitors can understand your site you’ll see a green bar, the fewer visitors who can understand your site the bar becomes yellow then red. If a site is too complex for visitors to understand or not able to communicate its message in an understandable way, you’re losing business, sales, etc.


Note that NextStage Evolution can deny use of its offerings to individuals or groups at NextStage’s discretion.

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Feb 10 15

NextStage Member Tools Explained

by Susan Carrabis

For anybody keeping track, here are our current tool offerings to NextStage Members. We keep adding tools as they become available and will update this list periodically. Some tools require training, some tools require our tracking code be on a digital property, some tools are so new they don’t have their own icons yet.

For those who don’t know, NextStage Membership costs $250US/year. There are lots of other benefits. Come play with our toys. They’re lots of fun and so are we.

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Nov 3 14

Introducing NextStage Trainings

by Susan Carrabis

NextStage has been testing some webinar trainings with various groups and the results are excellent.

So good, in fact, that we’re going public with our trainings. You can read about all trainings on our Schedule page.

Trainings cover topics such as

  • Building and Maintaining a Prospect List – NextStage demonstrates how some simple social mining can provide data on who needs you and how receptive they’ll be to your offer.

    This class is already sold out. Another will be offered sometime soon.

  • Know How Someone Is Thinking in 10 Seconds or Less Intro Webinar Training – a new one for us and already quite popular.
  • Email Pitches That Work – NextStage’s lowest email pitch success rate is 58% immediate and 608% pickup via social. These high numbers are achieved through selective audience development and a deep understanding of how an offering is percieved, by whom Want to learn how it’s done?
  • Webinar Introduction to NextStage Tools and Technology – NextStage has developed over 60 tools for various companies, agencies, businesses and governments, and many of them are available as part of NextStage Membership. This webinar provides an introduction to using NextStage tools and understanding the results. In some cases, participant provided material will be analyzed. The price of this webinar is applied to the Membership fee for anyone who chooses to become a NextStage Member.
  • Making Images Work – NextStage’s studies on the use of head and body images in marketing are used worldwide. Here’s your chance to learn directly from NextStage what images and videos to use for different audiences and when and where they should go on your digital properties.
  • Effective Newsletter Design – The email newsletter isn’t dead. It’s alive and flourishing if you know how to design for today’s mobile devices. This webinar shares NextStage research and results into crafting email newsletters that are opened and forwarded again and again and again.
  • NeuroDesign – NextStage’s Joseph Carrabis dissects ten websites chosen by participants and explains what works, what doesn’t and why. DMG’s Chief Content Officer Brad Berens said of Joseph ‘You are an expert in web usability, fast-paced analysis of how people’s postures and statements reveal their motivations, how color impacts decision making, and a lot of other things that I could list if I were about to take the time to go review websites and notes.’ Joseph, in 30 seconds, caught 10 out of 10 things Accuquote spent thousands of dollars and months A/B testing, according to Accuquote’s Sean Cheyney. Come see how it’s done!

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Sep 19 14

Joseph is moving on, a little

by Susan Carrabis

Joseph has accepted a position of Chief Data Scientist for insightXM. He’ll be working with insightXM three days a week and NextStage the other two, so he’s not leaving NextStage completely. He’s still accessible via phone and Skype for NextStage business, questions and concerns.

Our business strategy is moving away from pure and applied research and we thought it best that his diverse skills could be kept fresh better elsewhere. He’ll still be available to NextStage clients, for trainings and presentations as required, writing books, columns and publishing existing research in his spare time.

Yes, we’re all laughing at the “spare time” part.

Please wish him good thoughts and congratulate insighXM on their new acquire.

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Aug 27 14

We’re Changing Again

by Susan Carrabis

I’ve been running NextStage for most of this year. Much of that time has been analyzing usage data, discovering patterns, the stuff of general manager nightmares. Next I had Joseph and his crew compare what was happening on our site with what was happening on our client sites.

The result is our new homepage.

NextStage’s largest profits come from Memberships, Research/Consulting, Trainings and Surveys. Our tools get lots of use and end up being consulting engagements for most users. The tool question we get asked most often is “Which tool should I use to do …?” and Joseph and his crew end up working for free by demonstrating the tools, something I’m putting a stop to with this new design and direction.

Everything NextStage does is built on a base technology. One of our early investors prophetically told us “You folks have invented plastic. You’re like BASF; you don’t make the basketball, you make it better. You don’t make the milk bottle, you make the milk bottle better.”

Joseph’s creating a base, disruptive technology is impressive from a science perspective but rotten from a marketing perspective. Being able to do a diversity of things confuses businesses who want small companies to do one thing. They really prefer small businesses that do one thing that’s easily described. Every time someone asks Joseph what NextStage does and he says “We analyze how people interact with information in their environment” I cringe. It’s completely accurate and completely useless.

NextStage has an incredible number of offerings between papers, podcasts, tools, trainings and the list goes on and on. There would be more tools and trainings if I didn’t put my foot down.

The end result of all this is that the KnowledgeShop is going away and we’re consolidating everything into one site (except for the blogs and I’m rethinking those, too). We’re limiting our offerings even though everything will still be offered, just under fewer headings.

NextStage members will make out like bandits in all this; with the exception of a few tools, they now have access to everything we do as part of their membership. This includes most tools, papers, research briefs, presos, podcasts and their discounts still apply to what we do sell (trainings, webinars, etc). Memberships were $100/year, now they’re $250/year. Membership also includes two webinars and two personal site assessments per year free. We think that’s a good deal and hope you do, too.

Managing an office is a challenge, managing a small business is more so, managing Joseph and his lot…priceless.

Jun 25 14

Clarifications to a podcast – I was recently mentioned (quite positively, me thinks) in a podcast. The speaker made a few mistakes though…

by Joseph

Drew Sanocki mentioned me in EP #49: Bold eCommerce Predictions with Drew Sanocki of DesignPublic.com up around 36m14s. I was flattered and noted a few mistakes in what was said. I offered the following as a comment (hasn’t appeared yet) so I’m publishing it here in case others are similarly confused.

Hello and thanks for the mention.

Just so there’s no confusion, my name is Joseph Carrabis. You can get most of the scoop on me on LinkedIn. The book is Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History. Interested listeners/readers can pre-order V2: Experience and Expectation in NextStage’s KnowledgeShop.

I’d consider myself a researcher rather than sociologist.

The tool you’re mentioning is our Evolution Technology (ET). We currently have four patents on ET and there are more in the queue. ET is considered both base and disruptive. One use is monitoring online behaviors and in doing so, ET does use transient cookies to store things like pagename, sitename and so on.

However, ET neither uses permanent cookies nor gathers any personal identifying information whatsoever.

ET has been independently validated to 98% accuracy determining visitor age and gender while they’re navigating a site. Its ability to identify individuals across websites is due to its ability to recognize an individual’s thought patterns — what we call neuroprints, like fingerprints of the mind — when an individual is on different properties. This ability comes from most people being able to fake just about anything except how they think. How an individual makes decisions, shows interest, demonstrates attention, etc., is the same (at a neural level) regardless of what site they’re navigating or what device they’re using. Again, this is covered in V1: Science and History.

The “job” example you mention is also covered in V1: Science and History. It took about 30 seconds to determine that visitor’s job based only on how they interacted with our site. We don’t have a “jobs” page per se. ET pops up a request that you contact us if it determines you’d get along well here and we have an opening that matches your abilities. It asks no questions, there are no forms to fill out.

Mouse movements comprise about 10-15% of how ET makes its determinations. Its accuracy drops to 83% if the visitor bounces and it works on most commonly used digital platforms (desktops to mobiles, etc).

Our company is NextStage Evolution. We’ve been in business since 2001. ET currently gathers and tracks online behavior in over 100 countries. Companies often come to us to

  1. create custom tools for their use based on ET
  2. advise them on entering new markets or cultural marketing based on our extensive cultural behavioral database
  3. because we’re lots of fun to work with, …

Hope that helps and again, thanks for mentioning us.


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Jun 2 14

Introducing NextStage Surveys

by Susan Carrabis

Many of you may have seen the survey that Joseph sent out. If not, the English version is at, the Italian version is at and you should definitely take them.

This post is introducing one of NextStage’s undocumented services – Surveys. NextStage has been doing surveys for over seven years with over 7,300 results to date. We’ve helped companies both large and small from inception to conclusions. We maintain stringent levels of confidentiality for both our clients and survey participants, and our pricing is highly competitive.

NextStage offers:

  • Survey Design
  • Data Collection
  • Data Analysis
  • Survey Hosting

All surveys are designed to get the maximum out of a minimum number of questions. NextStage works closely with clients

  1. to learn what they want to know,
  2. and design a survey that will gather the required information
  3. without revealing what’s being studied (to insure that results are genuine and not biased by the moment or recent events).

Not only do clients get the standard analysis – the pixel in the pie charts – clients also get the Evolution Technology (ET) analysis of the participants as a whole and by any number of segmentations, many of which only NextStage can provide:

  • Rich Personae Analysis (How to get them to think the way you want them to think, what motivates them to act, how they will act and when)
  • Veridification (Were participants responding truthfully and to what degree were they not?)
  • LifeLining (Did the participant poll others before responding to a question?)
  • PiggyBacking (was more than one person “at the keyboard” when taking the survey?)
  • How were participants thinking when responding to the survey?
  • What will cause them to act/not act?
  • When will will act/stop acting?
  • What questions caused the most internal debate?
  • What questions were the most important?

And remember, NextStage’s ET gathers all this information without asking, only by observing, with 98%+ accuracy on your survey platform or ours. In addition to handling all aspects of online surveys, NextStage can offer guidance and staff training for companies doing their own phone or in-person studies, depending on client needs.

Get in touch with NextStage before you do your next study and we’ll help you get way more bang for your buck. FYI NextStage Members get the customer 25% discount on all surveys.

(this has been a public service announcement brought to you by those kind folks at NextStage Evolution)

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Mar 4 14

NextStage gets Patent #4 and Releases NextStage’s Experience Optimizer Tool

by Joseph

NextStage received its fourth patent on 18 Feb 2014. This patent is “… focused specifically on harvesting demographic data from the way a user interfaces with an electronic device.”

First, about the patent (and we didn’t write this, someone else did):

“Joseph Carrabis and NextStage Evolution, LLC were awarded their fourth US patent today (18 Feb 2014). US patent 8,655,804 is focused specifically on harvesting demographic data from the way a user interfaces with an electronic device. Whether using a keyboard, a mouse, a touchscreen, or eye movement, users reveal themselves in their interactions with these devices and Joseph’s software listens. With simple mouse movements within a web page, this software can determine age and gender of a user with over 95% accuracy. Ethnic background, economic status, home state, native language, and political party affiliation can all be determined in seconds of device interaction. This technology has set NextStage Evolution, LLC apart from all other neuromarketing technology on the market.”

The actual patent intro is a bit more technical:

A system and method for determining a characteristic of an individual is provided. The method includes determining at least one nonconscious element of an interaction by the individual and correlating at least one nonconscious element with at least one identifiable demographic characteristic of the individual. The system includes a computerized medium having a human interface system situated to facilitate interaction with the individual and produce a quantity of data corresponding to the interaction. A programmable device is in communication with the computerized medium and is situated to use at least a portion of the quantity of data corresponding to the interaction with the individual to determine at least one nonconscious element of the interaction with the individual. A correlation system is situated to correlate the at least one nonconscious element with at least one identifiable demographic characteristic and output a quantity of resulting information. …

NextStage Experience Optimizer ToolNow that we have this patent, we’ll be officially releasing our NextStage Experience Optimizer (NSEO) tool.

NSEO analyzes people using any device and sends instructions back to the device (or wherever the client wants the instructions sent) on how to improve the user’s experience.

First, how does ET and NSEO do this?

NextStage's Experience Optimizer Tool 'talks' to visitorsWell, ET and NSEO do it pretty much the way you’d do it if you were talking with the person, and we mean that literally.

Imagine you’re sitting down with someone and the two of you are looking at the same thing, a restaurant menu at lunch, for example. The other person has been to this restaurant before and with other people.

Now imagine that you’re talking about what’s on the menu while you make up your mind. The person sitting with you is listening and making suggestions based on what they’ve learned from dining with other people in the same restaurant, in other restaurants and so on. Eventually you make a decision on what to order for lunch. The other person’s suggestions helped you make your decision and you don’t think of their help as help per se although you will remember the good lunch at this restaurant and suggest it to others.

NSEO and ET do much the same thing. NSEO looks at, listens to, etc., the same content a visitor’s looking at, listening to, etc., and pays attention to how visitors interact with that content. Simultaneously, it’s matching this visitor’s behavior and interactions against every other visitor to the same content, visitors to similar content, visitors to all content and so on.

Based on what it’s learned about this visitor and what it knows about all similar visitors to this content and all similar content, it suggests changes to the content’s presentation, things like “Adjust the colors”, “Adjust the font”, “Use different language”, “Use different images”, “Place the images here and here instead of there and there” and on and on and on. The amount of suggestions NSEO makes is based on the number of visitor states (described below) the NextStage client is interested in. We provided an elementary example of this to an audience in 2000 and documented several examples in Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History (available at Amazon and in the NextStage KnowledgeShop, and everybody should have at least two copies. Also, V2 is due out this year if you’d like to pre-order). My favorite among the examples in V1 is:

IV.2 – The Investors Heard the Music

One of the early incarnations of the NextStage Evolution website self-modified in real time based on how individual visitors were interacting with itq. Two people could be sitting in the same room but using different computers to browse the site and ET would deliver content customized to each visitor’s unique cognitive, memorization, and comprehension styles. These styles are collectively called the “{C,B/e,M} matrix”, meaning “cognitive, behavioral/effective, motivational matrix”.

The {C,B/e,M} Matrix is, quite literally a shorthand notation for how people interact with their world. What is covered is very rich and detailed and can be summed up into three basic categories; Cognitive (“How do they think? What do they think about?”), Behavioral/effective (“What do they do that demonstrates how they think?” and the way I use the word “Behavioral” has next to nothing to do with how the term is used in the industry today, me thinks) and Motivational (“Why do they think the way they do? Why do they demonstrate it the way they do?”).38,49-51,53-56,58,59,63- 65,67,69,70,106,122

Differing {C,B/e,M} matrices were demonstrated when two investors called up from their office in San Francisco. I was sitting in my office in Nashua, NH, and they had asked for a demonstration of ET.

“Have you been on our site?” I asked.

Yes, they had, of course. So?

“Are you near a computer hooked to the internet right now?”

Yes, they were. So?

“Log onto the site. Pick any page off the menu you’d like to visit and tell me which one it is, okay?”


I navigated to the same page they were on. “I’m going to describe to you what I’m looking at. While I describe it to you pay close attention to what’s actually on your screen. You’ll notice some differences.” I started reading some of the text.

Yes, the text on their browser was slightly different.

I started describing the size and placement of images, as well as image content.

Yes, in some cases they didn’t even have an image I was describing, often they had one I didn’t have, etc., etc.

Then, while I was talking to them, their browser started playing music.

“You didn’t tell us your site had music,” one of them said.

My response didn’t make sense to them at first. “ET determined that you weren’t paying attention to the website and were focusing on an auditory stimuli, so it started playing music in the hopes of bringing your attention back to the website. It’s attempting to substitute its own auditory stimulus for the one you’re focusing on.”

“Why would it do that? There aren’t any auditory stimulus in the room.”

I remember both the emphasis and the lack of grammatical expertise on the investors’ parts. My explanation stopped them cold. “Yes, the auditory stimulus is that you’re talking to me. ET doesn’t know that you’re talking on the phone, but it can determine that some sound event — in this case our conversation — is where your attention is focused. It wants you focused on the website, so it’s playing some music in order to draw your attention away from this phone call and back to the screen. Like a child, ET wants to be the center of attention.”

I heard them click onto another page and the music stopped.

“How come the music stopped?” “Because your attention was focused back on the website. It didn’t need to play the music anymore in order to get your attention.”

A brief discussion ensued in which they expressed a great concern about my ability to access and distribute fertilizer.

And the music started playing again.

q – Self-modifying sites are what now might be called “morphing” sites. I have a challenge with the term “morph” due to the concept of Turing machines. A site, like you, should modify its behavior based on who it’s communicating with. People (and true Turing machines) routinely modify their behaviors based on who they’re communicating with, but only the psychotics “morph”, ie, become a completely different being.

Back then people couldn’t believe or understand. What a difference fourteen years make, huh?

Second, what types of instructions are sent back?

The instructions can be as simple as the individual’s gender and age (two variables), visitor “states” that NextStage’s Evolution Technology can determine at better than 98% accuracy, according to an independent validation study. Most online business can make do with our standard nine (9) states:

  1. Branding level (are they branded? Are they debranded?)
  2. Confusion level
  3. Conversion trigger (what will cause them to convert?)
  4. Curiosity level
  5. Decision maker status (is this person going to make the decision or will someone else make the decision based on the visitor’s recommendation)
  6. Decision status (where are they in their decision)
  7. Decision strategy (what will cause them to convert)
  8. Interest level
  9. Intender status (when will they convert)

More demanding requirements (security, privacy, …) can have up to ninety (90) visitor states delivered. How many states are delivered is part of the deployment discussion, and how the instructions are used is based on business rules, etc.

We offer guidance but don’t do any client coding, it’s up to the clients’ dev teams to build code around ET’s instructions and act upon them. ET will send back instructions based on what the clients’ goals are and what we’re willing to provide (if you haven’t read our Principles, now’s the time). The simplest incarnation is changing the css of a visitor’s browser session based on some simple rules.

What does NSEO cost?

It won't cost an arm and a legNextStage Experience Optimizer‘s pricing is based on amount of traffic, how often you want it to send information back, what types of information you want sent back, … pretty much the regular things. It won’t cost an arm and a leg and if your operation is a good cause, we can negotiate lots of things.

You can see a presentation, Introducing the NextStage Experience Optimizer, I gave on the NextStage Experience Optimizer for free in our KnowledgeShop (viewed best in Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and anything but IE9, evidently).

And now, a chuckle

What’s kind of amusing about this is that NSEO is actually what ET (our patented technology) was doing when we originally built it in 1999 and no one was ready (as I’ve said many times, CEOs were telling us “What do I care what my customers are thinking?”). Now the world has caught up and we’re going back to our origins.

Jan 13 14

Welcome to 2014!

by Joseph

Are you looking for the NextStage sites and wondering where they went?

Don’t worry, they’re still here, simply changing. We spent much of 2013 modifying ET and that means the backends of our sites, when the time came, were going to go through lots of changes.

Those changes are going to be put in place through much of 2014, so while the front ends may not change much (yet, they will change this year), the back ends are changing greatly. The sites will come and go as we hook in and test ET’s new abilities in real usage environments (including mobile).

In the meantime, enjoy our various blogs (and we plan on adding a few new blogs, too!).

FYI, we’ll probably be making announcements along the way via any of Twitter, The NextStage RSS feed Subscribe to NextStage's KnowledgeShop's RSS feed or

NextStage Evolution on Facebook
Friends of NextStage LinkedIn Group

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