Emotional intelligence through data
By Kantar TNS — October, 2016
Emotional Intelligence can be summed up as the ability to recognise and respond to how others are feeling at a particular moment in time. Without it, relationships tend to break down – and that’s the risk currently for the relationship between brands and their audiences on digital platforms.
People complain that brands ‘stalk’ them online and make them feel uncomfortable. Marketers either fail to realise how intrusive their use of online advertising has become – or choose not to care. Many believe that by targeting ads based on what they know about people’s behaviour they are being more relevant and more helpful. Unfortunately, their audiences don’t seem to agree. Most targeted online advertising is intelligent in the sense that it’s informed by online behaviour – but it is not emotionally intelligent. For that to change, marketers need to start asking harder questions of the data they are using – and what they are using it for.
Why brands’ use of data is stuck in ‘first date’ mode
Up to now, marketers have mined behavioural data with one goal in mind – who’s showing an interest in my category and how can I persuade them to buy from me? The result is that customers with very different existing relationships to that brand all get treated the same way and served the same direct response advertising: the shoppers being ‘stalked’ by ads for a TV get the same experience whether they are looking for a TV, bought that exact TV two weeks ago, or considered that TV but bought another one instead. People who’ve searched for broadband providers get bombarded with offers of high-speed connections long after they’ve signed up to an internet provider.
It’s one thing to keep encountering a brand in different places; it’s another if that brand keeps saying the same thing every time you encounter it – regardless of what your previous experience together might be. You can’t have a meaningful relationship with someone who just wants to keep reliving your first date. And by focusing their use of digital targeting solely on customer acquisition, that’s what brands are repeatedly doing. It’s significant that the more connected people are, and the more touchpoints that they encounter a brand through, the more this frustration builds.
From frustration to flashpoints: when campaigns get caught in the crossfire
Flashpoints occur when marketers set about to use a particular digital channel for one purpose – only to find a whole host of different people determined to use it for something else. When a business launches a clever brand campaign on Facebook only to find itself fending off very public complaints about defective products or customer service, it can’t afford simply to dismiss the perpetrators as ‘trolls’ or ‘saboteurs’. Its targeting has been guilty of treating people it already has a relationship with as if it’s just met them for the first time.
The solution isn’t to give in to audiences’ apparent desire for less use of data in targeting; it’s to integrate different forms of data into that targeting so that it can actually reflect the journey that a business and its target audience have taken together.