The Hallway, Edge, Ask: How Do You Tie Emotions To Big Data?

The Hallway, Edge, Ask: How Do You Tie Emotions To Big Data?
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How do you tie emotions to big data? In this guest post, the folks at ADMA spoke to some of adland’s creative heavyweights about the important issues of data and emotions, and how they intersect.

Big data. Virtual reality. Artificial intelligence. Programmatic advertising. In the current marketing landscape where technology rules supreme, you’d be forgiven for thinking emotions had been sidelined in the race to optimise, automate and deliver return on your investment.

If you were thinking that, though, you’d be wrong.

Emotions continue to play a pivotal role in the business of marketing and advertising. Simon Lee, executive creative director and partner at The Hallway, said emotions are here to stay.

“Emotions still matter very much,” he said. “Why? Because we’re advertising professionals and we have a job, and that job is to affect people’s behaviour.”

Emotions are intrinsically linked to the decision-making process and as such, there’s a lot riding on our ability to wring feelings from the pieces of data we work with or tie the two seamlessly together. Yet as more mediums turn to the programmatic buying and serving of ads, making that connection requires a specialist approach.

Dan King, managing director (Melbourne) of content agency Edge, added that when done right, even programmatically served ads can affect our behaviour.

“After about the third exposure, people start to align their own attitude and behaviours more along the lines of what the brand is trying to portray,” said King.

“If you have the right sensibility, data can be the very thing allows you to connect emotionally with your audience,” added Lee.

Edge’s King cites the example of a consumer looking to sign up for an energy policy and debating whether to go with the option that includes a percentage of green energy. After leaving the website, they are served ads through retargeting and then a funny thing happens.

King said, “By the third exposure, you start to believe you’re a more environmentally conscious person and you’ll start to prefer the brand that encourages you to consider the environment when choosing an energy plan.”

The Hallway’s Lee sees this meeting of data and emotion as so crucial, his agency has developed an entire model around combining them, a model that relies heavily on human input.

He added, “We as marketers would come up short if we attempted to outsource all of our decisions to the numbers at the expense of human instincts and empathy.”

While humans are still required to deliver on this promise, data plays its part. To illustrate his point, Lee uses the analogy of meeting someone at a party.

“You’re more likely to be disposed towards someone who remembers meeting you before and can talk about things that they know are interesting to you. Data enables you to be more informed and therefore more emotionally intelligent.”

To follow the analogy through, think of the charming party guest that references your penchant for mid-century architecture as a relevant, targeted advertisement versus a banner for sexy singles served to your pre-teen son.

Being able to manipulate data in order to elicit emotions is a handy skill to have in this data-driven world. King said, “Data services or people who can interpret data and look for an insight, not necessarily emotional insight, but insights generally, are going to become more highly valued in advertising and marketing, both client and agency-side.”

Building skills such as these will give many in the industry job security long after other functions have been automated.

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