Why the Digitisation Of Emotion Is The New Frontier For Marketers & Ad People

Why the Digitisation Of Emotion Is The New Frontier For Marketers & Ad People

In this guest post, Andrew Frank, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner says that machines that can predict human emotion are set to change the marketing and advertising landscapes…

Machine learning is ablaze just now and marketers are noticing that many of the companies and applications at the leading edge are aimed squarely at the heart of their trade.

Google’s DeepMind may be grabbing headlines for winning at the board game Go, but it’s in areas like market research, personalisation and recommendations where machine learning is having real impact — and not in ways you might expect.

Consider AI start-up Emotient, which Apple recently acquired. Emotient makes software that recognises the emotional content of facial expressions, which marketers use to assess people’s reactions to advertising and product features. Such approaches are rapidly replacing traditional market research techniques as they help marketers gain new insights into the emotions that drive spending.

But smart machines aren’t just analysing things — they’re also starting to create content that sells. Consider Persado, which markets a “persuasion automation solution” that produces machine-generated marketing language tailored to the top-performing emotions associated with a marketer’s target customer segments.

Or Resonate, another company that uses machine learning and predictive modelling to target ads based on motivational emotions, serving brands and political advocacy groups. Clearly we’re seeing a trend that seeks to use data and smart technology to unlock the power of emotion to sell.

Confronted with this incursion of algorithms into the sanctum of human emotions, how will a marketer react? Amusement? Disbelief? Enthusiasm? Shock? Dread? Whatever the initial response, we can identify four broad areas of consensus:

  • This is not going away;
  • Underestimating the potential of data and algorithms to model emotion can be a crucial mistake;
  • However adept machines get at analysing the data of emotions, empathy remains exclusively human;
  • Underestimating the importance of empathy in marketing can also be a crucial mistake.

To put some structure around these ideas, my colleague Jake Sorofman and I have developed the Intelligent Brand Framework (subscription required). In it, we examine examples of how brands are balancing the best practices of data-centric marketing with the human-centric approaches in the areas of automation, observation, inspiration, and engagement. This week we’ll look at more examples of how data and machine learning are breaking boundaries and, at the same time, freeing marketers to focus their attention on the things algorithms can’t do. The combination will be far more powerful than the sum.

In the meantime, don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment about machine learning: it’s powerful stuff, and you’ll need three things to get ready for it:

  • Lots of data for training sets;
  • Some skilled staff or partners;
  • A culture of experimentation.

And maybe one more: the judgment to know when to trust your head and when to trust your heart.

This article originally appeared on B&T’s sister business site www.which-50.com

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