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DIGITAL MEDIA MASTERS;MARTIN BLOCK;NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

By Published on .

It seems someone who works with neural networks would be a brain surgeon. In this case, however, he's a professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

Martin Block has been fascinated by quantitative and analytical approaches to advertising research since the early '70s. With all the advancements in tracking interactive media, Prof. Block finds himself in an "analytical frenzy."

"Marketing communictions is going through more change than it ever has, largely due to analytical approaches like artificial intelligence and neural networking technology," he said.

When he's not teaching integrated marketing to Northwestern students, Mr. Block is researching the future of neural networks, which can learn users' habits and deliver the most relevant content.

Block Research consults withIBM Corp. and worked with AT&T Corp. on a site called TV1, which incorporated intelligent agents into a TV listings guide. Prof. Block's real passion, however, is working with technology for the back end of Web sites.

"The future will be in connecting databases that seemingly are unconnectable," he said. "That's where the real power of neural networking technology will come to play....The future will be swapping databases to most effectively use all the data that's out there."

Betcha didn't know: Prof. Block can often be found sailing the waters of beautiful Lake Michigan.

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