Case study on how Hotspex used applied behavioral science and Google’s machine learning to create innovative advertising.

The Challenge

Marketing is more complex than ever as FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple Netflix and Google) have changed the rules on how brands connect and create commerce with the world’s consumers.

Google is now the world’s biggest media company. The race is on between Amazon and Apple to be the world’s first trillion-dollar company. Amazon specifically is helping smaller brands rapidly expand by connecting them to consumers without the need for traditional advertising as the user reviews from 10,000 people can compete with a 30 second TV ad for impact.

So what does all this mean for marketers and insights professionals?

On the search to answer this question, Hotspex’s senior leadership team interviewed several current and “recovering” CMOs to understand what’s keeping them up at night. It was clear that there was an inordinate amount of pressure on them to demonstrate impact and return on their marketing activity.

So much so, that in some cases, the role of CMO has been renovated and repositioned to Chief Growth Officer. With $1 trillion spent globally in advertising, the biggest opportunity for CMOs to demonstrate impact is to ensure that their media investments are most efficiently building brands and driving purchase intent.

Our Hypothesis

There are dozens of academic studies that prove when ads are aligned to content, they are more effective. About a decade ago Hotspex invested to create a map of human emotion which uses thousands of emotions, archetypes, personalities, benefits and values that allows brands to find their RIGHT SPACE. This is the emotional space that creates maximum brand profitability and growth. For Apple, they aim to build association with connection, love, surprise and delight. They bring this to life across their omnichannel touch points, including their devices, UX, stores, and customer service. This helps them capture over 90% of the total profits in the global mobile phone space.

Hotspex worked with Google to integrate Hotspex’s emotional and behavioral science with Google’s Deep Learning Knowledge Graph to target advertising based on context to serve people the right ads at the right time.

The hypothesis was that when ads are aligned with the content they run in, viewers would be more engaged and less annoyed, which should lead to better viewing experiences and increased ROI on advertising.

This will also have a massive impact for linear television as many advertisers are reducing ad loads on prime-time TV. NBCU recently said they would reduce ad loads by 20% as viewers in a Netflix, PVR, On-Demand world are not interested in watching ads. Wouldn’t it be nice if the TV viewing experience could be improved because ads were less intrusive?

Hotspex and Google ran an extensive A/B pilot test with over 1 billion impressions on YouTube Video across 5 leading global brands to test this hypothesis.

What We Learned and the Impact it Had

Overall, this approach increased media effectiveness by at least 10% in each of the 5 pilots. This included average skip rate dropping by 18%, Click Through Rate increasing by 18%, Brand Lift increasing 65% and Purchase Intent growing 71%.

Several of the client pilots suggested that the results were “explosive” and several media buyers have called Hotspex Contextual Media Targeting the “future of advertising”. The new tool also received WARC coverage at the recent IIeX Europe conference in Amsterdam.

At the end of the day the three key insights for research professionals that can be deployed immediately are …

1. Create Measurable Impact: Make sure the things you are doing create measurable impact that can be felt up in the C-Suite and that you can tell a good story as to how you specifically created that impact.

2. Media Spend is a great place to influence ROI: Media is a great place to create massive measurable impact as there is so much investment there. Look to create unfair advantages for your brand(s) by making your media dollars work harder for you.

3. Find ways to partner with technology giants: Embrace the technology giants of Google, Facebook and even Amazon. This is where the marketing dollars are headed long-term and these giants are looking to partner with innovators who can help them connect better with advertisers and ultimately consumers.

You can read the WARC article here.