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.

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 ( 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!

# # #

NOTE: Register online at 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

We are witnessing a new style of media with the ascendancy of President Trump.  The simple way to describe his style of media is to say that he chooses to speak direct to the world via Twitter.  That’s true, but it sells short what is actually happening.

President Trump and his team understand the value of driving a narrative to shape our behaviors, whether it is pro or con.  Inherent in this approach is the ability to reach us emotionally, distract us and motivate us to action, depending on the circumstances.   As a result, it is not just that we have the first president who is using direct media.  We have the first president who will shape our thinking on a daily basis, as he pursues short, mid and long-term objectives.

What we know about ourselves, as individuals, and for communities and groups, overall, is that when our emotions are triggered, we are often thinking of what is short-term … in fact, only what is short-term.   This side-effect of thinking emotionally allows us to be distracted or misdirected by the way a story is told.  It’s a bit like a magician who gets us to concentrate on the wrong thing as they get ready to unveil a card.  You can do this now by going direct to the world via social media in ways never possible before via journalists.

And this is why we are building a new algorithm that provides a four-dimensional view of what is really going on.  Our data science team is using a combo of algorithmic and machine learning knowledge to create an approach that centers on key variables, such as how to analyze Trump’s following (his own, his appointees and his wider team), all members of Congress and key staffers, the media and other important audiences.  We compare this against normative data sets.  In the case of twitter, we’re talking about normative panels that are 1 million people or more and other normative data sets that give us a great insight into what is truly resonating.

The result is an approach that allows us to see what is a distraction vs. what is the Trump team is interested in truly pursuing vs. what is resonating with key target audiences.  As an example, we may now see that key target audiences deeply care about a topic President Trump is discussing, but it is not being pushed or discussed by the majority of his team.  Or his team is clearly pushing a certain message … we can see that federal and state officials are also interested in it, yet the general public is not.   There are many variations that can show us when a topic is truly gaining traction with the people who can either support or stop the momentum of an idea.  In other cases, we’ll be able to see quite quickly what is falling with a thud … not by examining the mainstream media … but by understanding what voters and those with influence to create or support legislation think.   Tracking the right people, knowing exactly who really drives influence and understanding how support is evolving, either way, will become increasingly obvious over time.

Inherent in this model is also a deep understanding of subconscious behavior.  Just looking at what everyone says or retweets is interesting, but insights become powerful when we look at the meaning of silence for certain groups or apathy and withdrawal from a topic.  It is equally important to look at the intensity of protagonism or antagonism to understand what is true passion that may move the needle and what is really just slacktivism or people kind of going through the motions.  Subconscious behavior and looking into psychological changes are keys in the algorithms we now build.

It’s interesting that new models like this will certainly include mainstream media, but they are not at all dependent on them to draw conclusions that will accurately inform companies of what reality is forming for their reputation or brand.  In fact, in many cases in the political arena, they are actually a false positive.  Whether it was this past election or BREXIT or other recent campaigns, this is borne out over and over again.

We’ll be sharing some of our initial work at the Holmes Report’s IN2 Summit in Chicago on Feb 16th.   And for our clients, we’ll be ready to ensure that every tweet or new idea is met with a system to judge its real impact, now or in the future, as it relates to their actual business objectives.

Best, Bob

We have seen many elections and referendums get it wrong in the last 18 months, whether it was the Brexit vote or this week’s U.S. Presidential election.   We are all wondering why.

There is a good reason why these polls are inaccurate and an even better reason to be optimistic about the future of polling.

A poll today often asks us questions that we answer via our short-term memory.  If we are lucky, we can remember an average of seven items per topic and that’s it.  We’re tapped out.  That’s not a problem when you are asked simple questions.

The bigger issue relates to how we effectively utilize big data to understand what is really happening inside our heads.

If a topic is safe and positive, we answer accurately.  However, if we are worried about how we will be judged or if we are filled with negative emotions, our judgement changes and we start to act differently.  Here are a few actions we take as a result.

We give the answer we think others want to hear, since we do not want to be judged negatively.  And that leads us into a new set of metrics for polling that will revolutionize how we measure an election or public opinion of any type. In a highly emotional and partisan situation, we’ll consider the following:

We will evaluate subconscious behavior.  For example, what are we searching for vs. what we are retweeting vs. which sites we visit.  We will start to see that the same group of people who are saying they will vote for candidate X are actually increasing their searches for topics that are more positive for candidate Y or they say they like candidate X, but never show their support online.   We will see the differences in what we say verbally vs. what we do when no one is watching.

We will measure passion.  As a result, “events” will be redefined as “moments where the voter can express their support”.  It could be a physical event like a rally or a photo you can like on Instagram or a video you can watch for five minutes or a speech that you reviewed and shared.  By looking closely at dozens and ultimately hundreds of “events”, we can see if passion is building or waning and then zero in on who, why, where and when.    We’ll be measuring every place an impact can be made or a sign of respect or disrespect can be shown.

We will measure silence.  Imagine having a normative data set of all voters for your party and you start to see that 500,000 of these potential voters have stopped participating in any form of support, yet they have shown support in prior elections or for other relevant political causes.  These may be silent voters who judge the price of being public as too high, but they will still vote.  We could also start to see if we are losing voters to another candidate, as well.

We will measure apathy.  If we look over the course of a campaign, where is interest non-existent or where has it decreased significantly?  What is happening that is causing an entire area of people to shift their views?  Why are less people in Detroit interested in candidate X over the last six months?  We’ll be able to see what is happening at the neighborhood level, which will impact our choice of content and location so we can regain interest in the candidate.

We will measure the importance of a key topic by town by influencer.  In today’s world, you can see which topic matters by town by candidate and which people have the most influence online.  So, if you are visiting a key city in Ohio, you know you should talk about manufacturing first and health second, you know who to invite to your event and you know what other towns in Ohio care about this exact topic.  You will know that 97 cities/towns matter for your candidate in Ohio and 130 in Texas and so on.  You won’t guess at all.   You will also know which towns and cities do not rate these topics as a priority, so you can streamline where you visit.  We can see this, of course, by analyzing what content people consume at the local level.

The list goes on.  The result will be a renaissance moment for polling.  We will have completely new pools of people to choose from to define where an election is heading.   We will understand better how to look at historical data and subconscious behavior and other data points to know what questions we need to ask, when to ask them and where to ask them.

The art of polling will increase in value as researchers, pollsters and those they serve learn how to look at all “data inflection points” and master the art of understanding the subconscious behavior of all of us, particularly in these highly partisan times.   Those who figure out how to leverage this influx of new data points will continue to find that “edge” in each election until this becomes standard business.


This article originally was published on O’Dwyer’s PR.

More times than we can recall, we’ve counseled clients on earned media strategy (e.g., which reporter and outlet should be approached with “the story” and why).

As sound as we believe our counsel has been over the years, it was based largely on previous experience and relationships. And while these are valuable considerations to be sure, we both knew — let’s be honest, all of us have always known — that these are highly subjective filters, particularly for business. In response, we’ve been developing a capability designed to find more data-driven, quantified answers to these and other questions facing tech CMOs and CCOs every day.

We started with a simple, relevant question: “What media do CIOs engage with the most?” What followed was three years of developing the necessary technology, talent and process to create the first in a series of technology “tribes” — nerd slang for databases that are focused on capturing and analyzing the online behaviors of specific audiences.

The more formal term for this is “audience-based analytics” and it’s a field that W2O Group has pioneered.

What started as a skunk works project is today a database of more than 20,000 IT Decision Makers, including thousands of CIOs. By capturing publicly available posts, shares and likes from ITDM handles across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other online sources we are able to amass statistically valid data sets across industry, title, geography.

We then use proprietary algorithms developed by our data scientists to understand not just media consumption, but trends related to topics, content, conferences, thought leaders, fellow ITDM behaviors and more. Our most recent analysis illustrates how this works.

ITDMs are very active in social media channels, but not always in ways a PR professional would expect. In our analysis of over 5.3 million social media posts from ITDMs over the past 12 months, over a third (35 percent) of the posts are actually about IT. This content covers many IT topics but is increasingly focused on IT security, especially new malware, hacker threats, and the various updates and patches required to keep these threats at bay.

Another 20 percent of their social media posts are about the “ITDM Lifestyle” that goes along with the considerable travel required of ITDMs at mid- to enterprise-sized companies. This content tends to be the most original and engaging to their peers and friends and is often written with the dry and sardonic wit stereotypical of IT professionals.

Popular themes here include the trials and tribulations of air travel, the food they eat while travelling for work and a range of nature and architecture photography taken while traveling. The latter two are of particular interest because they demonstrate something that seems obvious but is often overlooked when communicating with IT professionals: they are surrounded by technology all day every day. This is not how they want to spend their free time.

In many respects ITDMs engage with and produce social content typical of educated, professional, usually male audiences. They tend to discuss sports, politics, business news and, unsurprisingly, “Star Wars.” There are a few areas of interest that are especially unique to ITDMs, though, including the role of technology in higher education and space exploration. And — in case you were wondering — if ITDMs elected the next POTUS, her name would be Hillary.

Sometimes an audience’s dislikes are as informative as their likes. In the case of ITDMs, the big dislike is the types of inspirational quotes that are typical of LinkedIn newsfeeds (e.g., Steve Jobs’ mantra to “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”). We found that ITDMs are less than half as likely to post an inspirational quote in one of their social feeds than the general population.

So, if you’re a community manager that’s responsible for producing content that’s relevant to ITDMs, we recommend that you avoid sharing these bite-sized universal wisdoms.

A good portion of your ITDM audience will find it cliché. Unless, of course, you are posting them with a deep sense of irony.

For all the advances in digital marketing, conference-base d marketing remains a large share of most tech CMOs budgets. But budget beware: Not all tech conferences are created equal in the Seth Duncan eyes of the almighty IT buyer.

Although Gartner’s IT Symposium continues to reign supreme, some may be surprised to learn that Microsoft Ignite isn’t too far behind VMworld and is actually ahead of Dreamforce, Cisco Live Rob Cronin and Oracle OpenWorld.

And how do you like that: we buried the lead! When it comes to media consumption trends, we tend to look at two data sets. The first uses link sharing as a proxy for what ITDMs are reading. The second analyzes who ITDMs are following compared to a normative sample. For the purposes of our analysis we remained topic-neutral.

So what pearls of wisdom can we offer? First, for all of the tech PR folks out there deciding between the Wall Street Journal and New York Times for your next exclusive, we would offer the following advice: you will reach roughly the same number of ITDMs, but the network effect will be far greater with The Gray Lady.

Second, ITDMs have an outsized appetite for Slashdot, NPR programs and The Onion. And finally, some of the many questions inspired by our data include: Have you embraced Medium as a platform? What’s your HBR strategy? How often are you engaging with the Washington Post?

Interested in learning more? We’d love to chat

sethduncanThis article was co-authored by W2O Group’s Chief Analytics Officer, Seth Duncan. His analytics and research expertise span advanced statistics, social, digital and web analytics, as well as traditional media and primary research. He has extensive experience applying these analytics approaches to a broad set of use-cases, including product development and design, branding, creative/content execution, messaging, social and web optimization, as well as influencer and media relations.