Advertising Measurement Gets Emotional

Think Tank Panel Predicts More Personal Data Available by 2022

Adobe Stock / Frank Rohde

Measuring deep human emotion and sentiment is the next frontier for the advertising industry, predicted a panel of leading industry experts during an Adobe Think Tank forum on “The Future of Advertising” held during the 2017 Advertising Week conference in New York.

The nine-member panel agreed that while automation will continue to create significant changes in workflow, marketers and advertisers need access to real-time data in order to accurately measure campaign effectiveness. The Think Tank panel also concurred that for automation to succeed, advertisers need to better aggregate data from disparate sources to holistically measure how different touch points across the consumer’s journey affect overall customer experiences and engagement.

The panel predicted that, by 2022, advertising content will yield a treasure trove of information so vast it will require dedicated resources — both human and machine — that go well beyond just data scientists. “Agencies, brands and publishers alike, will all have teams of psychologists on staff to really take on understanding of what is that human connection, what is the emotion,” said Kelly Andresen, senior vice president at USA Today Network.

The panel predicted that virtual reality will be one of the key technologies to facilitate greater in-depth understanding of user experiences thanks to biofeedback and other innovative metrics. “It’s a big, big jump,” said Kelly. “But with a fully immersive experience, brands can tell stories and create whole experiences that we can measure.”

“A lot of the enterprise level software available today is still in beta for a sentiment analysis,” added Aubrey Flynn, senior vice president at Revolt TV & Media. “But I think in the years to come we’ll see some evolution there, and we’ll get closer to this world that we’re predicting.”

One technology currently in use for sentiment analysis is facial recognition. “That technology is already built into phones, and is only going to improve,” said Gary Milner, director of global digital marketing at Lenovo. “How far are we from tying facial recognition and imagery into the full experience?”

Toward more personalized target marketing.

Measurement, noted Jill Cress, chief marketing officer at National Geographic, is an essential tool for marketers to determine how well their content is working. “The things that we’re measuring today are how many views did we get, how many impressions did we deliver, and how many fans do we have,” she said. “This whole set of vanity metrics that we have.”

But measurement needs to go much deeper, said Jill. Advertisers need to get further “down the funnel” in order to determine how a particular ad or piece of content resonates with — and, critically, inspires — a customer. Ultimately, she added, brands need to go beyond traditional “vanity” metrics to better understand how to get a customer to either buy or feel something. “We’re going to move away from some of these more transactional measurements,” she said, “and really get to the psychology behind consumer engagement.”

Improving measurement capabilities will ultimately help companies better understand their customers, which will boost targeting and lead to higher-quality personalization. “It’s important for brands to be able to differentiate themselves and actually stand out with consumers who are voting not only with their wallets, but with their time and attention,” said Jill.

From demographics to psychographics.

Jill added that one of the challenges for marketing in the age of automation is providing real meaning to customers. “That means moving beyond demographics to psychographics,” she said.

Moreover, Jill predicted, marketers will continue to invest heavily into technology that helps data science converge with psychographic data. “This is really about getting to know consumers on a very intimate level.”

Keith Eadie, vice president of Adobe Advertising Cloud, said the availability of more data about customers is already yielding more detailed engagement metrics. “I think the industry already has evolved, to a degree, from demographics to psychographics,” he said. “Certainly, in digital, that bridge has been crossed. In TV, I would say we’re driving across that bridge right now. For example, we’re enabling the TV advertiser to go from a world that was age and gender specific to one in which strategic target or psychographic data is applied and used more accurately to inform buying decisions.”

The ability to automate and analyze large amounts of customer data is helping companies better understand how to best interact with their customers across online and physical touchpoints. Technology, said Eadie, is the key. “All of the data has to be brought together to get an understanding of that individual, and to infer from that data how they’re going to react to different advertising experiences,” he said.

Data insights and deeper customer intelligence are ultimately the keys to delivering marketing content that resonates with audiences, added Aubrey from Revolt TV. “If we know the psychographics about our audience, we know what schools they like and what sports they like. It’s deeper than just demographic data,” he said. “The question is how do we take all of this nuance that comes with psychographics, and actively use that to drive behavior in a way that’s meaningful, — that’s above and beyond your transaction?”

In today’s marketing world, said Aubrey, marketers also need to use all the data they have in order to create brands that resonate with integrity and authenticity. “How do we not just tell the story, but be the story, and live the story?” he asked.

Automation will facilitate improved measurement.

As an example, Eadie pointed to a rapidly evolving technology for measuring behavior, known as multi-touch attribution (MTA). Moreover, while scaled sentiment analysis is on the horizon, he said, the current advertising ecosystem also has to connect offline sales data to digital advertising initiatives.

Measuring outcomes is imperative. “So far, we have failed miserably on measuring the impact of brand advertising on sales outcomes,” said Eadie. “Automation enables the consolidation of media, which enables more holistic measurements. Lenovo, for example, has built a great brand. But can they tie the customer journey from their Kobe Bryant commercials all the way down to their e-commerce transaction?”

One of the keys for connecting the dots for advertisers is being able to collect detailed data about every customer’s online journey. “Along the journey,” summarized moderator Martin Kihn, vice president of research at Gartner, “we can use analytics to figure out what drove what exactly. So, it’s about extending multi-touch attribution across the entire advertising ecosystem.”

Machine learning and artificial intelligence, with the ability to process and interpret large amounts of data, will also facilitate better measurement. “You will be able to develop a strategy and have AI measure the outcome,” said Eadie. “And with consolidated media buying, you’ll be able to measure much more holistically than is possible today. Every month, we are improving the quality of measurement that’s possible across the customer journey.”

There’s a lot more to learn from the Adobe Think Tank conversation. Watch the recorded discussion from Advertising Week NYC, and get ready to harness the power of advertising technology to improve your bottom line.

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