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While you’d be correct to point out that the headline makes complete sense, you would be incorrect in assuming that it is a practice followed in very many places. The reasons for why insights are not integrated are many and vary by the organization, but some of the biggest reasons why include:

  1. The marketing team is organized by channel, which promotes execution in a silo
  2. The data isn’t organized in such a way to be able to draw insights across channels
  3. The analytics team isn’t integrated and part of one organization
  4. A breakdown in communication between the marketing and analytics teams to ensure complete understanding of the campaign background and what’s possible from the analytics standpoint
  5. A measurement approach that features a single KPI to rule them all, or even channel-specific KPIs.

Hopefully you’ll notice a pattern with some of the biggest reasons why insights aren’t integrated. First and foremost, it isn’t only the fault of the marketer. My analytics brethren play a significant role in promoting insights in a silo. Second, you’ll notice (I hope) I’m not qualifying these challenges by a specific company’s industry. The challenge of integrating insights applies whether you are in a small or large company, or in health care or technology. Third, there are some significant organizational barriers to overcome even if the marketing and analytics teams are willing to come together. Herein lies what I am hoping you take away from the rest of this post.

When I joined Intel in 2014 to lead up the global paid media and digital analytics function, one of the most exciting challenges we were attempting to solve was just this: How do we bring together our paid media data, with our owned data, with our social data to tell a complete story about the performance of our campaign? We started the journey using a framework that my colleague (at Intel and now again at W2O) Dan Linton visualizes as siloed, collated, correlated and causated. During our respective three+ years at Intel I think we made tremendous progress toward correlated and causated insights that helped build better campaigns, optimize programs in-flight and properly measure performance. Even though both of us are now gone from the company I know that the team is continuing the journey to the nirvana state or causated insights.

So why not continue the journey at Intel? Why come back to W2O to establish the PESO (paid, earned, shared and owned) analytics offering? Aside from the fact that I’ve never encountered executives in my 15 year career who value analytics as much as Jim Weiss, Bob Pearson and Jenn Gottlieb, I would point back to the organizational challenges I cited above:

  1. Our activation teams that put together paid media, digital, social, or public relations programs aren’t in a silo. They sit within one organization, which immediately breaks down barriers to consuming cross-channel insights.
  2. Our data is well organized thanks to some incredible work by my colleague, Jonathan Isernhagen. More on this coming in future blog posts.
  3. Our analytics team is well integrated and in one organization. We’re bringing paid and owned analytics to an incredibly strong earned and shared offering that already exists for clients.
  4. We have a long history of proactive and positive communication between our activation and analytics teams.
  5. We have a significant number of people who have experience building measurement frameworks for clients of all sizes and industries that are not channel-specific.

The promise of PESO insights is tremendous for companies. It’s why I’m back at W2O, and it’s what we’re laser-focused on building out for clients. Over the coming weeks you are going to be hearing from some of my colleagues who are going to be expanding on this topic in greater detail. Everything from the owned analytics angle, to mobile learnings, to broad digital to even how an integrated data warehouse provides the foundation by which we execute PESO insights.

In the meantime, and in the words of our founder Jim Weiss, #integreatness.

We agree. Simplification is required in these complex times.

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal by Alexandra Bruell titled “Ad Groups Try to Simplify in Complex Times” discussed the difficulties of transforming from the traditional ad agency model to one driven by data science, technology and the mashup of services that were siloed for far too long.

The article and the industry angst resonates deeply for us at W2O Group since we have been transforming our firm this way since 2009.  Of course, back then, it didn’t seem all that cool to add in data science, fully embrace technology and start reinventing traditional communications and marketing models.  Now, it’s a no-brainer and a race to evolve quicker than market needs.

Here is what our clients are asking for that was emphasized via this article’s focus.

#1 – Clients Want Real Integration – They want analytics, planning, creative and the resulting campaigns to reflect intellectual, not physical integration. We like to say that if insights are driving our decisions, we are in the right mindset.  Gone are the days when we just “had an idea.”  Now, every aspect of our offering is driven by insights.

#2 – Work for Clients Like You Are the Client – Sir Martin Sorrell said “ensuring our people work seamlessly together through client teams and country and sub-regional managers to provide integrated benefits for clients is absolutely essential.”  We agree and we have found that actions matter far more than words, which is why we have always operated with one P&L for our five operating companies.  Our teams know that the only thing that matters is building the right team that brings the requisite solutions to our clients’ business problems.  We believe P&L infighting is the scourge of our industry and we want no part of it. Neither do our clients.

#3 – We Are ALL digital – Many of the larger agencies are struggling with “who owns” digital? For us, it is easy. Everyone. We ask 100% of our team members to understand digital, understand analytics and know how to solve problems and spot opportunities.  If everyone is digital, we are also media-neutral in how we approach a client’s need and that also improves how we integrate and build the right teams.

#4 – Earned & Shared Media Are Redefining PESO, Particularly Paid – In the article, Ms. Bruell writes “the holding companies’ complex structures have also impeded their ability to move quickly at a time when clients are demanding more real-time digital marketing responses to daily events, particularly on social media.”  We agree and see the emergence of audience architecture, social graphics and agile media planning reinventing how we build campaigns.  In today’s world, via our algorithms, we can identify and track our exact audience.  We can determine what content they desire about a brand or related to it and we can adjust to their needs by the hour, day or week. The headline is simple. Our customers are driving earned and shared media, so if we listen closely to their exact needs, they show us the game plan. If we are tracking paid media primarily, we only know how successful our campaign was, but we learn very little about what our customers actually want. Combining earned, shared, owned and paid will change how we plan, think and act.

#5 – The shift from video to visual experience – Everyone is pushing hard to provide more videos for social media platforms. We’re continuing to explore how our brains process visual experiences, so we can provide the right visual content at the right time, whether it is the right image, video, website or other visual educational content on the journey to form a view on a brand.  You need powerful analytics and a heavy dose of the right machine learning models to see how significant it is to know what will resonate inside our brains. In general, about 2/3 of us prefer to learn visually. It feels like the very beginning of a new way to reach our customers is starting to happen.

#6 – Clients Don’t Want to Pay for Overlapping Services – The article states that “what they want is a single business relationship that gives them access to creative, technology and media expertise without having to potentially pay for overlapping services.” This is exactly why we are continually building a shared services team that takes us from insights to content to planning. One powerful engine of expertise can be shaped for each client, based on what they need. While always a work in progress, we’re well on our way to meeting the needs of all sizes of companies. It is too painful and leads to less innovation if we try to do this in each operating company. Areas like analytics and how we embrace technology require that we go deep and get it right and keep evolving.

#7 – The Expanded Version of “Creative” – We have the highest respect for our creative teams who come up with ideas, based on insights, that we would never think about. This same spatial knowledge, which is a real gift, exists with our analysts and increasingly in general management leaders who have absorbed the principles of analytics and creative and happen to have this type of mind. It’s leading to an entirely new way to think of what “creative” really is if it is truly maximized for our clients.

We’re excited about the future and we look forward to continuously improving our offering to match and stay slightly ahead of the needs of our clients.  We also know how talented the leaders are within holding companies and remain confident that they will figure out how to overcome their legacy structure and systems to find new ways to innovate for their clients.  We have been relatively unencumbered from a restrictive structure since Jim Weiss founded the company in 2001 so we believe this has allowed us to evolve and scale based solely on client needs in this changing environment. And that’s not going to change.

The result is that we’ll all benefit. Our collective efforts will represent the next generation of our industry. It will be part communications, part marketing, part data science and part things we don’t know yet. Who knows what the era will be called. All we know is it will have a lot of “mad women and men” who can’t change fast enough.

This blog was co-authored by Chief Client Service Officer Jennifer Gottlieb. Fully committed to customizing every client engagement, Jennifer develops integrated teams that deliver the best work and drive business outcomes and success. She has been with W2O Group for a decade and has partnered with global companies big and small in the areas of pharmaceuticals, technology and consumer.

This is the fifth edition of The Social Oncology Project, our annual examination of the role that social media plays in the discussion of cancer. Past efforts have focused largely on the question of “what”: what topics capture the attention of the public? What kinds of cancers generate the most traffic from oncologists? What kind of connections characterize the online ecosystem in oncology?

This year, however, we sought to answer an even more basic question: “who?” There has never been an in-depth effort to understand and describe the doctors who are discussing oncology online, a sense of what sets that minority of physicians apart from their offline peers (and what connects them). This was in part about describing the demographics, elements such as age, location, and sex. But it was also about trying to divine offline behaviors, too. Are wired docs publishing more? Developing deeper relationships with industry?

This isn’t an academic exercise; understanding who is speaking about oncology topics is crucial to our ability to arrive at conclusions about what social chatter means and what it doesn’t, and who exactly this cohort speaks for.

After sifting through a mountain of data – much of which is presented in the full report – we’ve come to five initial conclusions about what it means to be an online oncologist:

  1. Tweet or perish. Being an oncologist with a public Twitter profile is correlated with more publications in two ASCO journals. Clearly, it’s important not to confuse causation with correlation, but there is clearly a nexus between old measures of “opinion leadership” and new concepts about digital influence.
  2. Age is just a number. Yes, online doctors trend younger, but the dividing line is blurry, with 76 percent of the online group on the wrong side of 40. That’s a sign that while much of what is posted online can be seen as a reflection of early-career doctors, the technology has penetrated far more deeply than just those physicians who grew up in a social-media world.
  3. Online Oncologists Take More Sunshine Payments. Though the differences aren’t huge, online oncologists appear to receive more money from industry, a phenomenon driven in part by a well-represented minority. There has been increasing attention to what these kinds of connections mean, and how to manage them, and our work confirms that this remains a fruitful area of analysis.
  4. Twitter Use is Correlated with Bad Winters. Or, at least, with being a resident of Minnesota and Wisconsin, which have the highest rate of oncologists online. Understanding the environmental factors that make social media engagement will be important in understanding how to make social media more useful for a larger group.
  5. There’s a Lot We Still Don’t Know. The next questions we hope to answer: what can online relationships teach us about referral and prescription patterns? Teasing out these more subtle relationships will help us better calibrate the way that a social profile may predict or explain critical offline behaviors.

The key element of social oncology, and, indeed, the driving force of The Social Oncology Project, is driving dialogue. We have done our best to present the data we’ve gathered in a straightforward way, without generating hypotheses on the important “why” questions.

But the “why” discussion is critically important, and one that is best undertaken with as broad a group as possible. So we hope you’ll take a look at the report, hop online, and join us in parsing what it means to be a social oncologist and where the conversation goes next.







Follow Brian Reid on twitter @brianreid; Follow MDigitalLife on twitter @MDigitalLifeLike MDigitalLife on Facebook 

To learn more about how the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem database can reshape the way you interact with doctors, patients, the media & all the important stakeholders of your healthcare company, learn more about us here.

Did you know that SENTIENT is a GOOGLE Premier Partner for Search Advertising? As a member of this elite group, our capabilities and experience certainly speak for themselves. Learn about what this means…

How do our clients know which agency can elevate their business? How do they identify the cream of the crop when it comes to campaign managers and performance trackers? Who will continually make them money?

The most capable agencies are identified by an elite group known as Google Premier Partners. This is the highest level of partnership an agency can achieve within the GOOGLE tiers and is earned by a small fraction of top digital marketing companies.

Only the strongest AdWords service providers achieve this and we’re proud to announce that Sentient is one of them! In fact, we have been since 2016!

In order to qualify for this level, we were able to continuously meet these 3 areas of requirements:

  1. GOOGLE certifications – We passed several rigorous GOOGLE tests with at least an 80% score
  2. Ad spend – We continuously met GOOGLE’s minimum ad spend. And although there isn’t a set number (requirements are set based on location and market) every ad spend is reviewed and approved by GOOGLE
  3. Conversion performance – We make more money for our clients by producing AdWords campaigns that convert at a high rate. Not only this, but the quality of our campaigns remain at a high level and our clientele is constantly growing

So, what does this really mean?
That our team is consistently delivering real search marketing experts who are trustworthy, knowledgable of GOOGLE AdWords (inside and out), and consistently managing successful campaign…after successful campaign. We’ve also been distinguished as invited users of Beta testing for new GOOGLE Adwords features for our clients’ campaigns. Our search and account professionals participate in regular training and knowledge-sharing sessions with GOOGLE throughout the year.

As a GOOGLE Premier Partner, it’s evident that we live and breathe through the understanding and workings of the AdWords interface…and turns out we are pretty good at it!

Gay Pride is quickly approaching which means clients should start thinking about how they can get involved to show their customers, their employees and their shareholders that they support the community.

As a leader in audience architecture, W2O Group has developed a cost-effective approach that will allow brands and companies to more effectively engage with the LGBT community.

To highlight our approach in how we are helping companies unlock the value of the LGBT community, I sat down with Allan Dib, our Managing Director of Strategy and Insights, to discuss W2O Group’s offering and approach:

Aaron: Allan, this is a little bit of a rhetorical question, but tell us how 2017 Gay Pride is going to be different than it was in previous years?

Allan: This year, Gay Pride celebrations around the country, from LA to NYC and all in between, are shifting focus to resistance – moving from parades to marches.  Borrowing from the Women’s March early in the year, the community has organized a national march, The Equality March for Unity and Pride, in DC on June 11th.  We expect to see thousands of people attending from all over the country.  Brands and companies are going to need to balance their celebratory messaging with support.

Aaron: You and I have discussed that some companies fall into the trap of treating the LGBT community as a homogenous segment. Why is this a bad idea?

Allan: The biggest criticism of brands targeting the LGBT community is that their approach is not authentic and genuine.  Brands and companies tend to target the entire community as one segment.  The LGBT community is certainly not homogenous and activating to create receptivity within certain audience segments requires nuanced insights.  Not only do you need to know which segment of the community is going to be right for you but you need to know as much about them as possible to engage in authentic and compelling way.  It is critical to build out your marketing strategy based on the segment most receptive to your message.

Aaron: What are some of the most effective ways to reach the LGBT Community?

Allan: While using LGBT media is definitely an effective way of reaching the LGBT community, it is not the only way.  Actually, if you focus only on LGBT media you are missing a large portion of the community that does not consume LGBT media and another important segment – allies.   LGBT allies should be part of your strategy; they have proven to be very vocal for the community and very receptive towards brands that are engaging with the LGBT community.  Allied influencers amplify your message.  An effective way to do this is to work with those who already influence (whomever they may be) your target to tell your story.

Aaron: Talk about how a company’s position on LGBT issues can impact how its employees (both current and prospective) view it.

Allan: Employees, especially millennials, are increasingly taking into consideration a company’s position on social issues.  They turn to the media, influencers and third-party associations to learn about a company’s position on key issues.  Many feel that LGBT rights are being attacked and rolled back by lawmakers across the country, making it even more important for companies to be vocal in supporting their employees.  We have seen many companies rise to this challenge and publicly support campaigns to fight for these rights. For these reasons, it’s important to let the LGBT community and their allies know your corporate story.

Aaron: A little bit of a sales pitch here but tell us how W2O Group’s LGBT Audience and Influencer Architecture can help brands effectively connect.

Allan: As part of our ongoing efforts to stay one-step ahead of the rapidly shifting consumer landscape, W2O Group is pleased to announce its new LGBT Audience & Influencer Architecture offering. We recognize that companies need the right perspective to pivot in today’s landscape and anticipate tomorrow’s environment. And as customer demands and the competitive landscape are changing constantly, we hope to provide insights grounded in real-time analytics to help navigate future opportunities.

Aaron: For those interested in this offering, can you let the them know what they receive?

Allan: Certainly. The current package includes:

  • Segmentation of more than 50,000 LGBTs and allies
  • Deep understanding of audience interests
  • Segmentation of the key influencers talking about LGBT issues
  • A workshop at your office

Aaron: Thank you Allan. What is the best way for clients and prospective clients to learn more about the offering?

Allan: For anyone who is interested in learning more about our LGBT Audience & Influencer Architecture, please let me know, Allan Dib, Managing Director Insights and Strategy. adib@w2ogroup.com

In the information age, so much data has been democratized that allows us to make informed decisions. But is data what drives decision making processes?

In today’s technologically-sophisticated world, we have access to an infinite amount of information anytime and anywhere through an increasing number of devices. We’ve evolved from the printed word all the way to the Star Trek era of shouting out our questions and getting answers any time with a simple voice command:

  • “Alexa! What’s the weather?”
  • “Hey, Siri! Where’s the closest Starbucks?”
  • “Ok, Google! How many ounces are in a cup?”

It seems that these devices are so smart, they can even carry on conversations with each other.

With all of this immediate access to information, the logical conclusion would be that consumers have the data they need to make informed, rational purchasing decisions.

But is that true?

Not necessarily. It assumes that evaluating objective data is what drives our decision-making behavior. Like it or not, studies show that our decisions are frequently driven by what we feel, not what we know.

Let’s look at a famous case study conducted by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio to illustrate the point. Dr. Damasio studied a patient given the name “Elliott” who suffered from acute brain damage in his frontal lobe. Prior to the brain damage, Elliott was a healthy and productive person with a successful marriage and career. After a tumor was removed from his brain, things began to fall apart. Elliott lost his job. His finances ran amuck after making a poor decision to get involved in a moneymaking scheme with shady characters. He divorced his wife, married again only to get divorced again. Dr. Damasio determined that Elliott’s IQ, short- and long-term memory were intact and functioning at a high level.

So what was wrong?

Elliott’s ability to generate emotion was damaged. Dr. Damasio further established a link between this lack of emotion and Elliott’s ability to make decisions. For example, at work Elliott would spend hours trying to make trivial decisions such as how to organize a set of documents. Should they be sorted by data, subject or document size? A decision this simple had become paralyzing.

Other studies suggest that our ability to store facts is linked to a connection established through emotion. This means that the path to storing information into long-term memory runs through the heart, not the head.

Think about that for a moment.

In order for us to store information that we can later recall when making decisions that change our behavior, we must first have an emotional connection to the content.

So what does all of this mean for marketers—particularly in health?

It challenges the assumption that audiences, such as healthcare professionals and patients, will be convinced by the data that a product or service presents. Suddenly that efficacy chart seems a little less powerful. I’m not suggesting that the data is irrelevant—it’s not. But if your brand cannot connect on an emotional level first, then your data will evaporate as soon as your audience is distracted by the next emotional tweet or fake news story that pops up in their social newsfeed.

If we’re in the business of influencing the decisions that people make in order to change behavior, then it’s critical that we develop content and experiences that will connect and resonate with our intended audience.

How do we do that?

It turns out that there’s an art and a science to that which we’ll explore in our next post.

Last week, Aaron Strout (CMO, W2O Group) published a story about how businesses can leverage third-party location data, which you can read here.

In the post, Aaron used a proof-of-concept model surrounding the displacement of NFL fans using image-recognition and geo-located posts. At the time, Aaron had to make due with a .gif file I had crudely put together (you can see it half way down the article), but—while there was nothing inherently wrong with it—I knew we could do more.

I’ve challenged myself to create something a little better using interactive visualization of D3.js. I’ve been working to demonstrate the value of interactive visuals when combined with large data sets, and this particular scenario was a perfect example.

 

What Exactly Am I Looking At?

Using a combination of image-recognition software, geotagged data and social buzz, the W2O Group analytics team determined which NFL fans were “most vocal” online when traveling with their teams to away games. With a focus on social media photo content, the team leveraged Sysomos Discover to analyze Instagram data for the entire 20-week NFL season for all 32 teams, using geotagged image-recognition software to tag every post that contained a team logo. The data was split into teams by week and included one “overall” view for each, generating a total of 672 visualisations. We also overlaid the map with the location of each team’s stadium and synched the data with the official schedule so that that the model highlighted the correct location of every week, BYE week and eliminations. Finally, we dynamically labelled the location where each game was taking place.

So when you select a team (either by clicking one of the helmets, or through the dropdown on the top right), you will be taken to that team’s week 1 data. Here you can see who they were playing, where, and a label where the most fans were found, which was almost always the venue of the game. Please note that the label with the number of fans represents only those who were tagged in the EXACT location of the stadium, not in the peripheral metropolitan area. You can hit play and cycle through all the weeks, select weeks at your leisure or simply go to ALL in the week selection dropdown to view the combined data for a given team.

Finally, you can use your zoom and pan using your mouse—just in case you want to get real up close!

Though there are lots of interesting scenarios to pick—and I encourage you to retrace your favorite team’s fate—we’ve recruited Richard Mather (Analytics Manager, W2O Group) to provide some suggestions worth exploring:

Richard Mather: Analytics Manager, Eagles Fan:

Oakland Raiders’ Fans Are Passionate While the Going is Good…

A dominant team in the 70s and winner of two Super Bowl titles in the 80s, the Oakland Raiders (and their fans) had been starved for a 21st century playoff run.  In the last decade, the team amassed a subpar 60-100 record with zero playoff appearances—except in 2016. So as 2016 began to unfold and the Oakland Raiders emerged as playoff contenders, the fans followed.

The Raiders’ fan base was also one of the most travelled audiences of the 2016 season and, while that seems surprising, the phenomenon may be attributed to fans jumping on the playoff bandwagon. Looking at the visualization, Raiders fans’ average attendance for away games rises as the season progresses. The data shows that for every game the Raiders separated themselves from their divisional competition, conversation grew by 218 fans. Unfortunately for the Raiders, their star quarterback got injured in the second to last game of the season, which caused a sharp decline for week 17. Better luck next year!

Feast and Famine 

It is not all misery in the NFL, especially for Patriot fans. However, with such a stellar record, winning is less exciting. Looking at the chart below, we see that the Patriots fans, even with a seven-game winning streak to close the season, were not nearly as vocal down the stretch as Raider fans. With a 126-34 record and nine playoff appearances over the past 10 years, it is understandable how Patriot fans may have become a little complacent.

The Effect of Disappointment

With a rookie QB and what looked like a strong defense, the Philadelphia Eagles had high hopes for their 2016 campaign. This turned out to be fool’s gold, and around week 11, their playoff chances began to diminish along with the travel from their fans. After week 11, the average volume of online road game fan support dropped by 15%.

Thanks Richard!

Some Thoughts on Geotagging in General 

Geotagging is an incredible technique for stitching online data into the physical world. There is something inherently fascinating about conjuring a concrete location for these data.

Concentration Versus Volume

Sometimes, a particular segment of data and its specifications can obfuscate other portions. Geotagging and analyzing at a location level can help remove bias and group data around a new structure. As we can see from the analysis above, just because a team has a lot of fans, it doesn’t mean they all travel.

 Superposition of Data

A lot of additional data can be found on a location basis. The government’s census data and other sources can be superimposed onto geo data and compared alongside it. It is relatively easy to bring up a layer denoting house-prices, salary or ethnicity from census data to enhance our data. Parting from geolocation can provide some pretty powerful demographic detail, if wielded correctly.

Time-Frame and Location Analysis

It goes without saying that geolocation is greatly enriched when juxtaposed with time data. These techniques can be used together for extremely detailed event coverage, effectively geo-fencing an area and monitoring activity (stay tuned for some examples of this in our next blogpost).

Thoughts on Interactive Programmable Visualizations

It is worth highlighting that these types of visualization techniques represent a breakthrough in data representation. Not only are you able to craft an interface through which to render complex datasets that are approachable and attractive, but—through interaction—you allow your audience to chart their own course through the data, making the experience much more personal.

Furthermore, once the initial interface has been cast, appending new data is effortless. It may have taken me hours to put together the initial model for Green Bay, but adding the remaining 672 configurations took a matter of minutes. Take a step back and look at the data acquisition, all done through algorithms and API calls, and you can see how repeating this exact exercise next year could be done in mere moments. A few years ago, this would have been a painstaking process requiring coding and processing in huge quantities, with each additional data set increasing the amount of data required.

Progress in data visualization been so intuitive as to seem effortless, but it is worth reflecting on just how the barrier to achieving usable large-scale data sets continues to lower. Making insightful use of such data, now there’s the rub!

So there you have it. I hope you enjoy messing around with the data set and following your team’s performance through the season. Stay tuned for more interactive charts in the coming weeks!

Never was a truer sentence spoken.

The world changes whether we like it or not, and for many of us, unless we have to change, we don’t. Most people are only too aware of what they don’t know, and the last thing they need is for you to rub it in.

Bob Pearson points to the conundrum in his book Storytizing. “Even when we face reality as it is, we tend to see the world in today’s terms. We rarely push ourselves enough to truly look around the corner and open our minds to how reality will change before our eyes.”

“Will we embrace the revolution in digital communications and marketing and use it to our advantage—perhaps even guiding the change at times—or will we make the leap to what’s new only when we have no other choice?”

What’s the best way to adapt, learn and grow in a dynamic marketplace?

The answer is ironically obvious: look outside! Most of us stay within our industry sphere to help us become better at what we do. To truly think differently, though, we need to step away from our desks, get outside our sphere of influencers and learn something different. If we see and learn how others solve problems, we can rejuvenate our thinking.

W2O Group recently concluded W2O at SXSW, its annual lineup of events around SXSW that center on thought leadership and innovation—and what’s next. This same spirit of learning and innovation continues at the National Summit on Strategic Communications on May 9-10, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.

The Strategic Summit—now in its eighth year—is, by design, different. The Summit attracts a unique mix of senior corporate communications and agency executives, military public affairs officers and government relations executives along with experts at NGOs and leading universities.

Innovation is the thread that runs through all Summit content. The Summit is global in scope, attracting leaders from at least a dozen countries. Says Summit Director Robert Grupp, “You meet leaders at this Summit who you normally would not meet anywhere else. This is where learning takes place.”

Great leaders see opportunities. They never see barriers; they visualize solutions. And they know how to unlock their personal innovation. Jim Weiss, CEO and Founder of W20 Group, will deliver a plenary “Summit Snapshot” on being “Future Ready” and harnessing:

  • Curiosity – Always looking for the why and what’s next
  • Embracing technology – Seeing new solutions and benefits
  • Utilizing data and insight into planning – Becoming savvy about analytics in uncovering opportunities
  • Innovating fast and frequently – Seeking out new approaches and methodologies and learning quickly.

W2O Group is excited to participate as “Summit Co-Chair,” extending the learning from W2O at SXSW, encouraging colleagues to think differently and equipping professionals with sophisticated new tools to better understand how brand messages proliferate and who helps shape them.

Other Summits highlights include:

BRAND STORIES: The disruption being experienced in all sectors means we have to pay even greater attention to the customer experience with our brand message across every channel on which it appears. Case studies by Chief Communications Officers from Bechtel, FedEx and The Hershey Company will reveal strategies to ensure that a brand story is well-told wherever the customer finds it.

DATA DOESN’T LIE: But we’re only as good as the analysts are at telling us how to make data actionable and change behaviors. Brad Parscale, former Digital Director for the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign, will explain how the data operation ran everything from TV buys to the ground operation, revealing “persuadable targets” and virtually everything the campaign needed to know to win.

GLOBAL MINDSETS: For global organizations, sensitivity to cultural differences enables employees to overcome inevitable challenges in diverse global teams. W2O Group’s Gary Grates will moderate a discussion among CCOs from multi-national’s including Johnson Controls and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company on how to develop a distinct completive advantage by developing employees who are adept at working across borders.

PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS: Many voices have claimed that pollsters lost Brexit and the U.S. election because their predictions were so off the mark. We can’t predict the future, but we can identify patterns in peoples’ behaviors. W2O Chief Innovation Officer Bob Pearson joins Politico’s Director of Audience Insights Rebecca Haller to explore how to optimize your marketing spend with reliable predictive analytics.

THE CIRCUS: Debuting last year on Showtime, this was a highly rated docu-series that took viewers through the weekly madness of the 2016 presidential race. Now back for a second seasons and subtitled “Inside the Biggest Story on Earth,” the Strategic Summit welcomes co-producer Mark McKinnon, who will pull back the curtain and show the story behind the headlines and the human drama of what goes on in political work and in the Trump Presidency.

“We encourage every Summit speaker and panelist to push the boundaries of today’s practices and identify and anticipate what skills will be required and what techniques and tools will be used tomorrow,” says Summit Director Bob Grupp. “It’s a challenge for people to talk only about what’s coming next—versus what’s happening right now—but that’s where ‘aha moments’ occur, when the solutions to problems suddenly become crystal clear.”

Finally, Bob Pearson will lead a popular, high-energy closing session—encouraging delegates to “think two years out”—a closing session that will succinctly identify major takeaways from the two-day Strategic Communications Summit.

“Most of us resist change at first,” Bob adds. “We’ll keep reading the same reports and secondary research our competitors have. We’ll do the same primary research using the same methodology we’ve employed for the past decade.”

But we can rejuvenate our thinking.

Join us at the 2017 National Summit on Strategic Communications (www.strategicsumit.com) and choose to learn differently. Evolve your models, and commit yourself to understanding how the marketplace is truly changing.

See you in Arlington on May 9-10!

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NOTE: Register online at www.strategicsummit.com using discount code C881W20 and receive 15% off standard registration.

We know how poorly the future has been predicted via traditional approaches.  David Cameron’s return in 2015 as Prime Minister of Great Britain was considered to be a surprise, as he easily picked up 328 House of Common Seats.  Brexit was considered to be a no-brainer that it would be turned down as an option, yet 51.9% of voters voted yes.  Donald Trump was dismissed by many as a candidate, yet he picked up 306 votes or 36 more than he needed.

The good news is that what happens in politics often represents the tip of the spear for innovation. So we ask “why” and before you know it, we innovate.  Here is what our panel explored today.

I focused on five key drivers of change:

#1 — Subconscious behavior is more important to measure in highly emotional/partisan issues.  We won’t tell the truth if you ask us in a highly emotional setting, but our actions will tell the truth.

#2 — The “non-behavior” e.g. silence, apathy or a decrease in intensity is often more important than what we say.  If an important constituency starts to decrease its intensity or perhaps go silent, this may be far more telling than what we are reading or what people are saying.

#3 — Narrowcasting is leading to overinterpretation of what real trends actually are.  We are increasingly getting our information from the sources that are most comfortable for us

#4 — Highly partisan and/or even fake news has a cumulative impact even if we think it does not.  Advertising models taught us long ago that frequency matters.

#5 — A new set of peers are emerging as influencers (the interpreters).  As the 9% in the 1,9,90 model matures into a media force, what they do and say is often far more powerful than any set of media outlets.

Rebecca Haller, who leads audience insight for Politico, informed us that Politico just created a new department dedicated to understanding our audience two weeks ago.  This team is is focusing on what they can learn from their readers, subscribers and event goers, who are also their sources and advertisers.

Rebecca also said that “we are combining the best of first and third party insights to understand our audience’s lives outside of the Politico ecosystem.  We are looking at more ethnograpic research and combining the best of pyschographics with our basic knowledge of our audience, all to provide a better experience”.

This is real innovation at a major media outlet and is one to pay attention to in the months and years ahead.

Mark Stouse, founder of Proof said that “analytics is hard enough….predictive is fraught with peril”. He went on to describe seven key learnings:

We don’t first understand the past and present
We know what we want and that drives bias
We trust ourselves when we should not
We assume consistency v. inconsistency
We don’t understand the role of time
We like pretty pictures too much
We like large speculation v. small certainty

Dr. Alexander Krasnikov, assistant professor of marketing for Loyola University in Chicago focused on the value of brands and made several interesting points, such as:

We need to conduct continuous segmentation in real time. Continuous being the key word.

If we do this well, we start to uncover the customer’s hidden needs and preferences.  We see early warning signs.  And with time, we can start to become predictive of responses likely to occur in specific scenarios.

Just as important, finding “alike” consumers does not imply correct segmentation

We are entering a time where our ability to innovate in data science and behavioral models has never been more important.

I’ll conclude with the key message overall.  Major change leads to breakthroughs.  Yes, its often fun, even therapeutic to discuss what happened, but it is much more productive to evolve and change how we do business as a result of what we are learning.

Here is one example of what we are doing to get a better view of what is actually happening in the market place.

We have realized that we will now build multi-dimensional algorithms so you can get the full and real perspective for any market, avoid false positives and see how trends or movements or apathy is really occurring.

Here is an example of how we are approaching it.

We are building a new “Trump algorithm” that has six dimensions.  The first is the “brand”, in this case Trump and all of his followers.  Second, we look at his appointees and surrogates (the army). Third, we look at Congress and staffers.  Fourth, a wide range of normative data sets (the real secret sauce) ranging from normative sets of 1MM people are more per channel who represent the “average” to NGOs for a specific issue to all African American pastors who discuss politics in public to key journalists and more.  The fifth is time and motion related.  What is the duration for successful momentum and when do you know that a new idea or protest is taking hold for real? And the sixth relates to sensitization and desensitization to a topic.  We often forget to look at the rates of burnout for things we are passionate about or fail to see an ember turning into a fire early enough.

The result is a new way to look at how an audience is truly being built, shaped or redefined.  Not surprisingly, it is important to point out that a single group often does not automatically impact the audiences that matter.  They might…..they might not….and that goes for any one group.  Said another way, just because any group is vocal on a topic doesn’t mean that will ever correlate with success. You still have to win the hearts and minds of the right people.  In that respect, nothing has changed….but our ability to understand the psychology of the market via technology and how it is shaping our world is becoming a top priority for brands, companies and anyone in the world of politics.

Thank you to our leaders on today’s panel. Best, Bob