When it comes to the marketing power of data science, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle. But now marketers are keen to interrogate how it can be combined with other tools and technologies to provide a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour - not just what people are doing, but why.
The answer could well come in the form of human science and its blending with data science to paint a more detailed picture of consumers. Human science promises to intimately understand how and why humans emote the way they do, to build comprehensive modelling of customer groups, and to act as intel to craft campaigns and content that will resonate deeply.
A desire for deeper understanding
The potential of human science is not unrecognised. But, until recently, the technology was not at the required level for wide-scale implementation by ad agencies and marketers.
Now, there is an unmistakable message from the market that it is ready to unleash the capabilities of human science, according to James Ingram, CEO of Telmar, which provides media planning backed by technology to some of the world’s leading agencies and broadcasters.
“We’re listening to the market all of the time, and what we hear clearly is marketers and advertisers want to benefit from the power of human science and qualitative data,” he says.
“Businesses know how to target audiences. What there is a desire for now is to much better understand audiences and what makes them tick.
“The world is going through a difficult period, with factors like high inflation and a global recession, so it is important to understand how that is impacting consumers and changing their preferences, behaviours and emotions. That requires blending human and data science, and we’re uniquely positioned to provide that service.”
Much of that confidence is borne out of Telmar’s acquisition of AI-powered audience intelligence platform Helixa, which was completed in late 2021. Helixa uses social data and a range of other data sources to provide unique research insights into audiences’ demographic, psychographic engagements and behaviours, and segmentation that had previously been out of reach for marketers.
Ingram says it is not just the ability of the Helixa platform to more deeply understand audiences and give marketers a more comprehensive and intimate understanding of the types of media that engage them, but also the speed and granularity it offers users.
“Everybody wants insights faster, so time has become an invaluable commodity. A vital advantage of the Helixa platform is the speed at which users can pull insights. Whereas many competitor products take days to run modelling and produce meaningful insights, Helixa is able to do that in minutes. Our customers are working in highly-competitive customer segments, so that rapid response is highly valuable.
“Granularity is another thing we hear from our customers all of the time. The more granular the audience insight, the better. It’s no longer enough just to know that somebody has a nervous disposition, they want to know what drives that, and that’s something the Helixa platform can do. That combination of speed and granularity is something the market has been asking for.”
Budgets are being tightened ahead of an inevitable recession, meaning marketing dollars need to go further with targeted communication that resonates. Helixa's data gives marketers a much improved understanding of purchase motivations and other meaningful insights, ensuring they have the context needed to navigate the stormy waters ahead and meet the moment for consumers.
Unearthing new customer segments
This combination of speed, granularity and deep, personal insight is throwing up some surprising intelligence. When one of Helixa’s agency partners was tasked by a beverage company to help with the domestic launch of an energy drink, Helixa’s Discovery platform identified numerous new and viable cohorts; one especially surprising that paid back in dividends were active, 50+-year-old consumers.
This was a completely new and untapped cohort for the category, far removed from stereotypical segments such as gamers and teenagers that energy drink brands frequently target.
“If you look at the entire marketplace of consumers and can analyse related relationships, there are whole customer segments that you can engage with. The company was able to advertise on Facebook, which is where this group that Helixa had identified was active, and it became its highest-grossing customer segment,” Ingram says.
The next giant marketing leap
It is this meeting of Helixa’s rapid customer insights and Telmar’s media planning ecosystems where the combined power of the platforms is best illustrated.