Character in 2021: How Empathy Can Connect Consumers, Brands and Media
@ANA members voted “pivot” their word of 2020. @Joe Mandese took the ANA and marketers to task for what he politely called introspection, an inward focus on themselves rather than their consumers. He named empathy as the true priority for brands seeking to engage customers after a year in which many have endured disruption and pain. WFA President @Raja Rajamannar also advocated empathy as a priority for brands after earlier recognizing what few admit as the existential crisis facing marketing.
Marketers have neglected more than their consumers, and for longer than 2020. In the last decade Marketers funded and ceded control to the digital platforms. In doing so whey turned a blind eye to the negative outcomes from polarization in society. They also deepened doubt about the contribution of advertising to brand growth and business performance.
Brand marketer P&G cut ad spend by $350 million without impact on financial performance. Unicorn disruptor Uber cut ad spend by 2/3rd without impact on customer acquisition. Valuations at most brands as measured by Interbrand and Kantar have fallen. All gains accrued to the digital platforms, growing from 20% of the S&P 500 market cap to 37% by year end.
As Media became digital, Advertising became the business model of the Internet, directly and indirectly funding the Search and Social ad duopoly, the App Ecosystem, eCommerce, and Software “eating the world”. The characteristics of Digital Advertising are an impenetrable and fraudulent AdTech system, driven by the short-term behavioral metrics clicks, likes, shares.
All Media shifted to digital in 2020. News and Entertainment networks adapted and sought direct engagement with consumers through subscription models and streaming services. The Media and in particular Television and Video now confront the same challenge as Brand Advertisers: how to manage direct engagement and develop empathy with their consumers.
Consumers, Brands and Media are now all inextricably connected by technology, yet:
• Consumers resist Advertising and Media insensitive to their context and needs, with digital targeting deepening negative emotions
•Brands measure declining effectiveness in their longer-term consumer relationship- building, brand differentiation, and market caps
•Media confront declining engagement and profitability without solutions to identify consumers as audiences on a scale compelling to news and entertainment creators as well as to brand advertisers
If empathy is critical to a healthy ecosystem, more than individual consumer behaviors, brand communications content, and audience demographic profiles will be required. We founded Emoto to create a new dimension of data connecting consumers, brands, and media. This data is humanized, follows ethical practices, and is based on Character.
Why Character Strengths? Because character triggers positive emotions that are the foundation of empathy and trust. By humanizing data in this way, character matching allows the media to find (for brands) the audiences that match their values. By following ethical best practices, character matching generates positive emotional responses, and more meaningful engagement between consumers, brands, and the media.
Character strengths are rooted in psychological research and proven scientific classification methods.The character science underlying the Emoto solution set is available as SaaS solution as an API and can be matched to specific domains or market categories, in multiple languages and cultures.
Character strengths are rooted in psychological research and proven scientific classification methods. The character science underlying the Emoto solution set is available as SaaS solution as an API and can be matched to specific domains or market categories, in multiple languages and cultures.
The positive outcomes for Brands and Media from Character matching have been tested and measured in brand relationships and growth, and in media engagement, subscriptions, and advertising monetization. Test results include four times the number of emotional brand connections and relationships, and three times the number of relevant engagements in media.
The positive outcomes are equally realized by consumers and have been researched and measured through the positive appraisal sensations that we experience when in tune with the media and communications to which we are exposed. Research has demonstrated eight times the level of positive appraisal sensations when the brand messaging and media content are matched to the character strengths of the audience.
Digital platforms designed their algorithms to maximize engagement by exploiting negative emotional responses. This led directly to the current toxic environment. Character strengths are the right data to match and connect consumers, brands, and media to generate positive business outcomes in the short and longer-term.
Character strengths are already being used by clinicians, organizations, educators and alternative economic indices to facilitate critically needed systems change – and now, they are being used by Emoto’s customers to confront the existential crisis in marketing and advertising. Character strengths can now be deployed to motivate empathy, positive emotions and better business outcomes for all across the consumer, brand, and media ecosystem.