Use The Data, Luke!

Storytellers will be the first to tell you that without an audience, they’re not storytellers.  Could the same thing be said if there is an audience but they’re not engaged by what the storyteller has to say?  The answer to that question could be argued either way, but the real takeaway is whether the storyteller is just wasting their time if they are not making the connection with the audience.

This is certainly nothing new.  Many movies, TV shows and books have come out to find no audiences though they are well-made.  The same thing can be said for brands in general.  That is why it is imperative to not only come up with the best story for the product but the best outlets to reach the people it will most connect with.

With ever-changing growth and diversification, that matching is both helped and hindered.  We are able to find out more details about viewers and users, but there are so many more places we have to track.  With new data streams, we can be helped immensely if we take advantage of those streams and mine what really matters out of it.  We are moving away from the categorization of all people being the same based on their age, where they live and what sex they are.  The new data forms are providing much more detail about particular audience tendencies.

Mark Lieberman points out the gains in TV data in his TV Board post, Got Data?  Find the $tories.  He posits how those old or base metrics “don’t tell the story advertisers need to understand in order to connect with viewers. A soft-drink marketer might know that four programs in a given time slot attract women aged 18 to 49, but those high-level metrics won’t show where to find the best ROI for their particular category. Talk about soda without the fizz!

For advertisers, there is now an opportunity to optimize exposure with actual purchasers of a given product, on networks and programs they might have overlooked. For instance, did you know that NBC’s “30 Rock” rates very highly with European car owners? (VW is actually the highest.) Or that Lincoln and Mercury owners are more likely than owners of other cars to watch the Gospel Music Channel?”

While his story focuses on the same principle of telling the story and driving the best ROI on TV with learnings from those new forms of data, it doesn’t go far enough because it only focuses on TV.  There are now so many ways to gauge the audiences and cost-effectively engage them through so many forms of media – whether its broadcast, cable, online, mobile, social, OOH, print, etc… As metrics and consumption shift, its not always prudent to get the most eyeballs.  Sometimes those big numbers matter and that’s not to be discounted, but all outlets should be evaluated wisely as we all know bigger isn’t always better.

Ultimately, the available tools need to be used to determine who you will be telling your story to because its getting increasingly more challenging to simply repeat what may or may not have worked in the past.  And no one wants to be heard as “wuh-wuh, wa, wuh-wuh,” like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons…

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