by    in About Ranker

Ranker is the YouTube of Opinions for Influencers

RankerInfluencersYouTube has created stars that are more popular than their mainstream counterparts and who leverage their videos into millions of dollars in annual revenue.  The success of many popular social media channels is based on providing opinions about topics like  toys, video games, or outfits whether on youtube, twitter, or instagram.  Most influencers have a presence on multiple online media channels and Ranker offers a unique way to broadcast opinions, via the ranked list, which would otherwise be an awkward fit for existing channels.  With over 20 million unique visitors each month consuming Ranker lists, Ranker is a unique platform for extending an influencer’s online presence.  Here are a few specific ways that an influencer can leverage Ranker into even greater influence.

1) The simplest use of Ranker is to post a ranked list of your opinions.  Where else could the Iron Sheik post his 8 favorite places in New York or 5 biggest jabronis?  For far less effort than would be necessary for a YouTube video or Tumblr post and in a far easier and more cohesive format to digest than a series of twitter or instagram posts, influencers can post a ranked list of their favorite musicians or most ridiculous movie scenes.

2) Many influencers are actually items on specific Ranker lists, and a great community-building exercise is to ask one’s audience to help influence the list, which also implicitly tells your audience about the quality of your work and explicitly tells other visitors to that list that you should indeed be ranked higher.  Examples include: Fans of Outlander working together to move Outlander up on our list of current tv shows or Ice T promoting his ranking on Best West Coast Rappers.

3) Lastly, fans often appreciate that you care about their opinions and so another unique way to use Ranker is to ask your fans a specific question, which naturally generates a ton of engagement, data, and comments.  For example, you can see here how Tim Howard generates organic engagement by asking his fans who they think is the Best Soccer Player of All-time.

As the world’s biggest source of crowdsourced opinions, Ranker is a natural place for influencers to make their opinions known, promote positive opinions about the influencers themselves, and solicit their fans’ opinions, and we would especially love to work with influencers who would like to take advantage of our unique platform in these ways.

– Ravi Iyer

by    in About Ranker, Opinion Graph, Pop Culture, Rankings

Ranker’s Rankings API Now in Beta

Increasingly, people are looking for specific answers to questions as opposed to webpages that happen to match the text they type into a search engine.  For example, if you search for the capital of France or the birthdate of Leonardo Da Vinci, you get a specific answer.  However, the questions that people ask are increasingly about opinions, not facts, as people are understandably more interested in what the best movie of 2013 was, as opposed to who the producer for Star Trek: Into Darkness was.

Enter Ranker’s Rankings API, which is currently now in beta, as we’d love the input of potential users’ of our API to help improve it.  Our API returns aggregated opinions about specific movies, people, tv shows, places, etc.  As an input, we can take a Wikipedia, Freebase, or Ranker ID.  For example, below is a request for information about Tom Cruise, using his Ranker ID from his Ranker page (contact us if you want to use other IDs to access).
http://api.ranker.com/rankings/?ids=2257588&type=RANKER

In the response to this request, you’ll get a set of Rankings for the requested object, including a set of list names (e.g. “listName”:”The Greatest 80s Teen Stars”), list urls (e.g. “listUrl”:”http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/45-greatest-80_s-teen-stars” – note that the domain, www.ranker.com, is implied), item names (e.g. “itemName”:”Tom Cruise”) position of the item on this list (e.g. “position”:21), number of items on the list (e.g. “numItemsOnList”:70), the number of people who have voted on this list (e.g. “numVoters”:1149), the number of positive votes for this item (e.g. “numUpVotes”:245) vs. the number of negative votes (e.g. “numDownVotes”:169), and the Ranker list id (e.g. “listId”:584305).  Note that results are cached so they may not match the current page exactly.

Here is a snipped of the response for Tom Cruise.

[ { “itemName” : “Tom Cruise”,
“listId” : 346881,
“listName” : “The Greatest Film Actors & Actresses of All Time”,
“listUrl” : “http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/the-greatest-film-actors-and-actresses-of-all-time”,
“numDownVotes” : 306,
“numItemsOnList” : 524,
“numUpVotes” : 285,
“numVoters” : 5305,
“position” : 85
},
{ “itemName” : “Tom Cruise”,
“listId” : 542455,
“listName” : “The Hottest Male Celebrities”,
“listUrl” : “http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/hottest-male-celebrities”,
“numDownVotes” : 175,
“numItemsOnList” : 171,
“numUpVotes” : 86,
“numVoters” : 1937,
“position” : 63
},
{ “itemName” : “Tom Cruise”,
“listId” : 679173,
“listName” : “The Best Actors in Film History”,
“listUrl” : “http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/best-actors”,
“numDownVotes” : 151,
“numItemsOnList” : 272,
“numUpVotes” : 124,
“numVoters” : 1507,
“position” : 102
}

…CLIPPED….
]

What can you do with this API?  Consider this page about Tom Cruise from Google’s Knowledge Graph.  It tells you his children, his spouse(s), and his movies.  But our API will tell you that he is one of the hottest male celebrities, an annoying A-List actor, an action star, a short actor, and an 80s teen star.  His name comes up in discussions of great actors, but he tends to get more downvotes than upvotes on such lists, and even shows up on lists of “overrated” actors.

We can provide this information, not just about actors, but also about politicians, books, places, movies, tv shows, bands, athletes, colleges, brands, food, beer, and more.  We will tend to have more information about entertainment related categories, for now, but as the domains of our lists grow, so too will the breadth of opinion related information available from our API.

Our API is free and no registration is required, though we would request that you provide links and attributions to the Ranker lists that provide this data.  We likely will add some free registration at some point.  There are currently no formal rate limits, though there are obviously practical limits so please contact us if you plan to use the API heavily as we may need to make changes to accommodate such usage.  Please do let me know (ravi a t ranker) your experiences with our API and any suggestions for improvements as we are definitely looking to improve upon our beta offering.

– Ravi Iyer

by    in About Ranker

Everybody’s Ranking on the Weekend

Random observation looking over some of our Ranker pageview trends today. And I figured, why not share?

Here’s a graph showing the traffic to all Ranker “filmography” pages from March 14th to May 14th of this year. These would be lists of all films made by a certain actor or director, like this collection of Goldie Hawn movies or this rundown of the films of Martin Scorsese.

Those “peaks” you see are Saturdays (or sometimes Saturdays and Sundays together.) Search traffic for “filmographies” and lists of movies goes way way up over the weekend. Which makes sense – that’s when most people have some free time to rent or stream films, and research new stuff to throw on.

In and of itself, probably not blog post-worthy. But I’ve brought you here for a reason! Here’s what traffic looks like for the same time period to BIBLIOGRAPHY or author pages. (These are pages listing all the books written by a given author.)

The peaks on this list are in the beginning of the week (usually Monday, but sometimes Tuesday.) So unlike movie fans, book fans are doing most of their research for new titles mid-week. Could it be that book people are putting in some of this time… WHILE AT WORK?!?! Perish the thought. Perhaps it’s easier getting away with loading some new titles on your Kindle during office hours than, say, figuring out which “Hellraiser” films are missing from your Netflix queue? Or people are just finishing up their books over the weekend and then figuring out what to read next once they get to the office.

I guess Loverboy had it right all along.

– Lon

by    in About Ranker, Market Research

Game of Thrones Fan Report: Behind the Numbers

Last week, we published an info graphic with lots of “taste data” about “Game of Thrones” fans. Basically, we used all the data we’re collecting about people’s preferences in Ranker to make some educated guesses about what else people who like “Game of Thrones” might like. Why? Mostly because we can, but also because we figured people could potentially find it interesting.

After we showed the infographic to the world, a lot of people wrote to us asking how we actually arrived at these conclusions. (And yes, some of them just wanted to be sure we weren’t just making the whole thing up.)

It all starts with votes. Thousands of people have voted on Ranker lists on which “Game of Thrones” appears. If they’re on a list that’s “positive” (for example, “Best Premium Cable Shows”) and they vote “Game of Thrones” up, we know they like the show. If we notice they also vote for “Game of Thrones” on other lists (“Most Loving Caresses of Dragon Eggs in TV History,” for example), we know they REALLY like the show.

Then we look at all the other Ranker lists where that person has voted, and get a sense for what else they like, and what else they hate.

But we don’t stop there. The next step is to arrange people into clusters based on their specific preferences. If 80% of the people who vote on Ranker lists like “The Simpsons,” and 80% of “Game of Thrones” fans like “The Simpsons,” that’s not very meaningful at all. But if only 20% of people who vote like “The Simpsons,” and 80% of “Game of Thrones” fans like “The Simpsons,” then we’ve learned something statistically significant about these people.


But what about fans of “Simpsons” parodies of “Game of Thrones,” you might ask… if you were purposefully trying to confuse me.

These “clusters” of people with tastes that are aligned will teach us basically everything we need to know to make educated guesses about what random Ranker users will like. In our next post, we’ll explore exactly how we use these “taste clusters” to draw conclusions.

-Lon

by    in About Ranker

Introduction to Data @ Ranker.com

Ranker is continuing to grow, both in terms of the traffic that comes to our website and in terms of our coverage of the world of objects to be ranked.  As we grow, we collect more and more data and are only beginning to tap the possibilities of the data we collect.  If you’re interested in our data, this video will hopefully give you a quick introduction to data at Ranker.com.

by    in About Ranker, New Features

Why Ranker?

A post from Ranker CEO Clark Benson:

 I like to rank things.  I have been making lists all my life.  So do a lot of people (according to Zogby International, 80% of people make lists).

When I was in middle school I probably read The Book Of Lists and The Book Of Lists 2 5-10 times each.  But I never read them cover-to-cover.   The beauty of a list is how self-contained it is.  Lists don’t require your undivided attention for hours on end – you can digest a list in minutes and still get a lot of depth.

There’s a quote from High Fidelity “what really matters is what you like, not what you are like.” 

I empathise a lot with that.  I’ve been keeping some form of a “journal”, most of my life – but only on rare occasions have I found myself writing multiple paragraphs about my day or my feelings.  Of course, a lot of it is that I’m a dude, and dudes just don’t spend a lot of time blathering about their emotional state.

No, what I write are singular thoughts and observations, a funny gag from a college buddy, a random business idea.

Or a list. I am VERY into music.  It is safe to say that I am an utter music fanatic. For me, music is time – hearing a song – even in my head – can immediately take me back to that time frame where that song was omnipresent in my world.  I don’t look back much, so I cherish the ability of music to almost force me to look back.  For almost as long as I could write, I would jot down lists of songs (and later, albums).

When I was about 9 I would sit by the radio on a Sunday morning and write down Casey Kasem’s Top 40, eagerly trying to guess the top 3 via a Sherlock Holmes-esque deductive technique (I know that sounds like a total waste of time but I am old enough that when I was 9 we didn’t quite have video games (OK, Pong had dropped), let alone the internet).  When I was packing my stuff to move to California after college I found a “Vote for Your 10 Alltime Favorite Songs” flier from Chicago radio powerhouse WLS-AM filled out in my 5th grade handwriting.  Sadly I threw this out and only remember half – “Jet” and “Band On The Run” by Wings, “Come Sail Away” by Styx, something by Queen, and – yes – “King Tut” by Steve Martin and “Rubber Biscuit” by the Blues Brothers (If you are a U.S. male of about my age you might understand).

OK that was a bit of a tangent – hope you are still with me – but my point is that personally, a list of the songs I loved at a moment in time is as close as anything I have to a personal history.  And I don’t think I’m the only one like this – I think a lot of us find that a record of the places they visited, the movies they saw in the theatre, the concerts or ballgames they attended, the people they had a crush on – is a very relevant keepsake of the past.  I’d like to think that a tool like Ranker could be used to easily document and save some of the events/places/things in one’s life, whether that list is published or just kept privately (about half the lists on Ranker to date are private lists).

Every year I make a year-end list of my favorite albums and email it out to a bunch of people.  I do it more for myself than for others, though I spend a bit more time on “the List” because others will see it.  Typing out every artist and album name is a pain in the arse, as is remembering all the album titles. “There’s got to be a better way” thought I.  I looked on the web and there are a number of sites for people to make lists – some of them general interest, some of them for specific categories of things.  But none of them really solved the problem of making listmaking easy enough to add real value to the user.  I wanted to blog, but I wanted to blog in list form, and I wanted the items to be drawn from the same database.  I like statistics, and I like using data to make decisions.  By using a central database for everyone to use to add items to their lists, we could generate endless statistical correlations and aggregations as more and more users joined in and ranked whatever their passions were.

So I decided to build Ranker. I spent a few years honing the idea mostly in my head while I was engaged in selling my prior web startup eCRUSH/eSPIN, and after taking some time off I dove right in, investing a pile of the proceeds from that sale (when we launched our closed beta a friend said, “Congratulations, you just spent a million dollars so you could put your 500 Best Bands of All Time on the internet”).  She was just ribbing me, but the goal in my head has always been to build a tool. It would have been a lot easier to just build a site for ranking bands and albums.  I thought “If I feel this way about music, someone else feels this way about cameras, or birdwatching, or The Simpsons”.

So we spent the time to build a platform that supports all kinds of different interests and passions. I wanted to combine the drop-and-drag “rank-ordering” interface of Netflix with the playlist-organizational capabilities of iTunes.  And of course build a social aspect, and a publishing platform, around this. And I’m a data nerd, I like to filter, and sort. The dataset we use from Freebase, combined with a lot of editorial effort, gives users the ability to sort, and (soon) filter any list by all sorts of properties.

We make it easy to build a list with a lot behind it – we give you default images and metadata, and a drop-and-drag/autosuggest interface to find and add items (as an added bonus, we even throw in the numbering).  Since we provide the entire format, this frees the user up for the fun stuff- putting things in order, deciding what’s best, what’s worst, what’s funniest.  Writing blurbs.  Rating items. Making lists and sharing them.

Since we launched I have been blown away with the quality and creativity of the lists our user have been making. It’s proven to be far more than just everyones favorites albums, books, and films. Given the early stage this site is at, I can’t wait to see the future. A few fave early user lists that I should have given a shout-out to months ago:

But at the moment of publishing this post, Ranker – cool as it is – is still a lot more one-dimensional than it will be very shortly. We’ve built a system where everything is connected, and that’s not entirely clear… yet. Stay tuned – there is a lot more coming down the line in the very near future at Ranker.