Emotional perception can yield to positive influence
Let’s kick this off with an anecdote. Back in 2009 I heard about a news story on the radio. Very seldom had I called a radio station, but I wanted to contribute to this specific story. So I used my then new Twitter account, and mentioned the journalist that covered the story within my 140 character response. Then, the unthinkable! That journalist not only responded to me, but also retweeted me, allowing my opinion to reach his many followers. I remember the feeling. It was crazier than bumping into Beyoncé at the airport (maybe not). It felt like a huge shift in convention. A direct line, if you will, to the very people that share content with a wide audience — the modern celebrity. The influencer era had begun, and I had just stumbled upon it almost by complete accident.
Influencers changed the game. In many occasions these self-made internet celebrities have contributed to the massive cultural shift that we’re continuously experiencing. CEOs connect with their customers, celebrities publicly answer to gossip, entire movements are powered and spread by a hashtag, and brands have found a voice to spread to new markets.
While some of these trending individuals are more like public figures, there are some that we only know because of their online presence. This has created a modern channel for brands to expand, and a new branch of effective marketing beyond what was previously available/possible.
Being that this is a relatively new marketing method, finding the right individual to stand behind a particular brand or product is… challenging to say the least. We mostly rely on a few key factors that challenge us to predict the impact an influencer might have on a brand or product. Added to that is the fact that we mostly rely on legacy metrics to drive those decisions.
Typical Agency/Customer Conversation
Customer: “We have developed a new shaving razor brand for millennials. We want them to start shaving again”.
Agency: “Great! We’ve asked designers to step out as we imagine you don’t like beards. What’s the traction so far?”
Customer: “Thanks! So far so good, but we want to expand to key markets in Europe. We’re thinking it would be prudent to contact [INSERT INFLUENCER NAME] for a sponsored video”.
Agency: “He has an incredible amount of reach, 54,174,914 subscriptions to date and counting”.
Once that conversation takes place, they move on to the demographics, tick all the boxes such as region, ethnicity, gender, age group, etc. Note that while these metrics are undeniably important, they are largely legacy considerations. Meaning, those same metrics were used to place radio, TV and print ads decades ago. All of these can be augmented by technology available today.
Harnessing technology to understand perception and engagement
Today, we can use tools that allow us to scrape social media responses and analyze the collective tone for example. This can surface all sorts of interesting scenarios where an influencer might not be as appealing to put behind a brand.
For instance, that influencer may have struck the wrong cord with a recent video that shed a a shadow over the intended audience. When analyzing social responses, one can see that even with a large reach, the same influencer may be experiencing a wave of criticism from his audience which would mean a bad publicity stunt for brand expansion.
Another method could be to perform focus group sessions within the intended audiences, and analyze their micro-reactions to videos from said influencer. One might discover dips in empathy, negative emotional reactions and even lack of engagement.
When all is said and done, one can look at the aggregate data. While the Customer and Agency above would have reached an agreement to launch a sponsored campaign with [INSERT INFLUENCER NAME], they might have not successfully landed their message with the right audience. Even worse, the audience might have taken a negative perception against the brand.
What we see for the future
We envision that these technologies can continue to develop and evolve the way influence predictions are made. Measuring emotions through AI and Machine Learning is a brand new field that shows incredible promise. While it can certainly be applied to market research, we see vast opportunities in other fields such as customer satisfaction, healthcare and academics just to name a few.
For this purpose, we are creating a research tool called RefineAI. Our platform will allow content owners to measure how viewers emotionally react to their content. We are also creating a suite of APIs that allow developers to add sentiment analysis capabilities to their apps including video, image, text, and sound analysis.
How RefineAI works
By creating an account, you’ll gain access to the Campaign Tool
Once in the Campaign Tool, create a new Campaign
Name your Campaign and add a video. This can be done by dragging the video you want to test from your desktop, or pasting a Youtube link in the field.
Once the video is imported, click on Publish. This will activate your campaign, and give you a unique URL to share with your test participants.
Copy your URL and distribute through any channel such as an email campaign or social media.
As testers watch your content through the Participant Link, you will see analytics populate in real time through your Campaign Results.
We’re excited to launch this product into the marketplace, as we genuinely believe it will change the way we target our brand initiatives by introducing perception into the mix. If you’re interested in trying this out for yourself, sign up to our Beta release. You’ll get to try out our tool for free.