New Intuition + Science Method Increases ROAS +95%

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Have you ever wished that there was a key that would connect your intuition to all the data? Now there is such a key. And impartial third-party researcher Neustar has proven that it works.

Intuition remains the main factor in the success of all human endeavor, including content, marketing, sports and all the performing arts, warfare, love, technology and even science itself. If we didn’t all know this, CMOs would never have been created, and creative directors at agencies would never have risen to highest importance.

Of course, the way we all know this is intuitively. The inner feeling of certain knowledge is a function of that faculty which we call intuition. Jung considered intuition so important he called it out as one of the four functions of consciousness, along with perception, thinking and feeling.

Intuition is called having hunches by the mass of humanity.

When a bunch of information suddenly comes together to form a surprising molecule in your mind, you have an “a-ha! moment.” That is intuition.

CMOs and creative agencies excel at knowing how to use their intuitions.

The creative and media silos should never have been parted like the Red Sea. But it is what it is. Dozens of years ago, the industry quietly began to use benefit segmentation, consumer research which buckets people by the reasons why they buy a specific kind of product. During the time Bill Livek and Bill Engel were running Simmons, they went bigtime on benefit segmentation -- and MRI and Kantar and Ipsos and GfK and everyone else did, too.

CMOs loved it. It helped them have intuitions about creative strategy, holes of opportunity in the marketplace and brand positioning. This shaped the creative briefs which gestated the creative executions. And advertising that was pleasing and did its job continued to improve.

On the media side, when it came time to select media, once the two sides of the advertising brain had been severed at the corpus callosum, the media people went with the flow of sex/age as the ultimate reduction of the benefit segmentation planning targets. Even today most of the buys are still made based on sex/age. Fortunately, the percentage of buys made on advanced targets continues to go up year after year.

I had something to do with that. By creating TRA, I led the industry to target based on people who previously purchased your brand but were still not loyal to it. I called them swing purchasers -- a la swing voters. It wasn’t that they swung back and forth (switchers tend to switch on price) it was that they had previous experience with the brand. They had passed the trial stage. That’s what makes them responsive. Leslie Wood and Joel Rubinson have continued that line of research rather beautifully.

However, targeting based on demographics or previous purchasing patterns alone leaves out something very important. It leaves out the CMO’s a-ha moments and the a-ha moments of the creative team. It is not directly connected with the motivational segmentation the whole industry spent half a century perfecting. It leaves out human emotion.

Fadi Karam when he was at Nestle was astounded to hear me say I couldn’t optimize his media until he showed me his creative. “No one has ever asked for that before,” he said. Later the Intuition+Science method proved itself when it showed that even one exposure has significant effect if it is in a context where the intuitive magma in the ad is the same intuitive magma as in the environment.

The next step was to apply the Intuition+Science method in targeting: Discerning the intuitive memes in the ad and then finding people who consume those memes on the internet.

In the Neustar study, the four segments created by the CMO were translated into memes by RMT, a company I co-founded with Bill McKenna. IDs on the internet which consumed those memes were identified by Semasio. The IDs were sent to the client, and the client and agency tested them against their regular IDs. It was a random control trial, following the precise guidelines established by the Advertising Research Foundation in its RCT21 educational initiative. The client gave all the client’s first party online and offline sales data to Neustar to analyze along with all data on all the media and promotion used. Neustar found out two things:

  1. The Intuitive+Science method IDs increased ROAS +95%.
  2. They further increased New to Brand purchases by an additional +20%.

A-ha! Swing purchasers had never excelled at New to Brand,I thought.

At the going-forward price of the IDs at scale, the ROAS of +95% translates to +243% increase in ROAS.

How can such stunning results be explained? It’s simple. The humanity was put back into the targeting. The reasons why people buy -- not just what they can make up in their verbal minds, but everything boiling around in their evanescent subconscious as well. The subconscious is the well from which intuition springs.

And the subconscious “tells” not by the things we say, but by the things we consume. The consumption of content is particularly revealing. To be able to see the content an ID uses -- if one has the key -- provides vast stimulation for the minds of the CMOs and all the creatives.

RMT got the key by years of testing specific memes for their ability to predict set-top-box data. Over 13,000 memes were tested. Two hundred and sixty-five survived the journey. Simmons in 2017 reported that every single one of the 3830 brands they analyzed (across all product categories not just CPG) showed significant incremental explanatory power when RMT DriverTags were added to Simmons’ other data. In other words, these 265 memes are the key, the memes to look for, because they drive and partially explain subconscious choice of brands of all kinds, including media brands.

An unprecedented number of impartial third-party validations have proven that “The Human Method” works: Nielsen NCS, 605, Simmons, Neustar. A study by Neuro-Insight for IAS shows that thematic alignment between ad and context increases long-term memory formation in the right brain +40%, and that is garden variety thematic alignment not availing itself yet of the key 265 memes.

The hero in this story is the CMO and the creative team. Their intuition is reduced like a fine sauce to its essence and expressed semiotically and semantically. RMT and Semasio use that as input, filter it through the DriverTags, and provide IDs. The work that went into the ad is respected by the media choices. The contexts resonate with the ad itself. Lining up both the ID and the context with the memes of the ad itself is now being done programmatically among 162 million US IDs and all media contexts from TV to OTT/CTV to display to podcasts to influencers. In 2022 the memes go global to 700 million Semasio IDs.

We call it “Exalting the Creative.”

Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy U.K., warns that the advertising industry has “abandoned any discussion of persuasion, psychology and human insight to focus exclusively on delivery – treating advertising as though it were a branch of logistics …. The best targeting is often psychological ... Targeting takes place in the mind.”

Mark Truss, Chief Research Officer at Wunderman Thompson says, “I’ve found that ‘intuition’ is often just shorthand for ‘things we know that we don’t know that we know,’ but is usually based on years of experience -- just years of experiences that we haven’t codified or cataloged. Research and data can of course then help us understand the nuance of that intuition.”

Industry leader Rishad Tobaccowala says, “Blaise Pascal said people choose with their hearts and use numbers to justify what they did. This approach captures this human complexity.”

Exalt your intuition, humanize your targeting, marry your ad with its contexts, and gain financially as well as spiritually from it.

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