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In the evolving media landscape, audience intelligence needs a human touch

In the evolving media landscape, audience intelligence needs a human touch

To truly engage the empowered media consumer, companies need to stop treating audience engagement as a one-time project and start prioritizing human relationships. That was the main message from Andrew Reid, founder and president of Vision Critical, when he spoke at an exclusive event for media professionals at the London Hotel in Los Angeles last week.

The evening event explored the various ways media and entertainment companies are managing disruption. Here are three top takeaways from Andrew’s keynote.

It’s still about human relationships.

While technology has transformed many aspects of the business, one thing remains constant: the fundamental rules of human engagement. In his presentation, Andrew quoted Robert Pittman, CEO of iHeartMedia, who at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show stressed the need to preserve the element of humanity in the media space. Keeping up with the media consumer remains the industry’s biggest challenge.

While leveraging the latest technology is important, companies also need to prioritize relationships. Andrew urged attendees to stop treating audience engagement as a one, point-in-time project. People are multi-dimensional, and what motivates them today might not motivate them the same way tomorrow. Because people evolve over time, companies should commit to building trust with their audience over time.

The audience is powerful, and they want more value.

Today’s audience is more than just their spending power, and they know it. The audience knows that they matter in a big way. Their attention, their data and their opinions can provide companies with an enormous competitive advantage.

Despite the importance of learning from their audience, however, many companies have not made the commitment to listen to their audience yet. And companies that actually engage with their audience sometimes forget to answer a critical question: what’s in it for our audience?

To get people to engage, there needs to be value for them in the process. Whether it’s social clout, exclusivity or entertainment, your audience needs to gain something from their participation. This idea of value exchange is one of the reasons why Vision Critical is so passionate about helping media companies build communities. When people join a community, they become part of a select group that can directly influence what a company does. Companies gain wisdom from their insight communities, and so do the members who are part of them.

Whether it’s extrinsic or intrinsic rewards, companies should prioritize value exchange in audience engagement. It can’t be one-way street; it can’t just be about your brand.

Audience engagement needs to provide a holistic picture.

Advancements in tech allow media companies to collect more audience data than ever before. Media companies know what content their audience is consuming, what devices people use to consume that content and when they access it. But in many ways, all this big data has not made companies smarter about what their audience really wants.

Connecting multi-faceted audience data streams has the potential to give companies a more holistic picture, but Andrew rightly points out that doing so comes with significant challenges. The Holy Grail is a 360-degree single-source understanding of today’s audience. Not just what content they consume, but why they consume it. Not just what they say on social media, but what they really think and feel.

To get a more complete picture of the audience, companies need to get back to basics and engage with people directly, while still leveraging the value of their behavioral data in a single source manner. Harnessing the power of human relationships this way can help companies develop a three-dimensional understanding of their audience in a way that enables them to be proactive and to anticipate their wants.

By leveraging Vision Critical’s insight community as a single source platform for analysis of attitudinal, audience behavior and other “big data,” companies can now create a highly structured single-source audience measurement platform. The benefits of doing this are extremely powerful as this provides:

  • Better, empirical data on actual platform and media usage
  • Better behavioral targeting for attitudinal survey work
  • Shorter, mobile-friendly surveys, as behaviors being targeted are already known
  • Richer, more precise data for more granular audience analysis, especially compared to syndicated measurement services
  • And most importantly, a true 360-degree longitudinal tracking and learning of your audience

Conclusion

In his keynote, Andrew urged the media professionals in the room to elevate the role of audience intelligence by considering the nature of human relationships in their practice. Companies need to connect with their audience in more meaningful ways—by treating them as real people, not just evaluating them by their behavioral data alone. Connecting with your audience, engaging with them and inviting them to sit within your inner circle will change your business for the better.

To learn more about the different factors transforming the media industry, download Building Audience: Courting and Keeping Customers in a Media and Entertainment Industry Awash in Data, a white paper I co-authored with media research expert Bill Harvey.



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