MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Big Data Loves It When You Get Emotional

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, February 17, 2015


You know the saying, "it's either laugh or cry". We've all been in those situations where we choose which emotion to express. In fact, in business it's considered poor form to be too emotional. However, those emotions are at the heart of all this big data that's floating around. In the media space, where companies large and small are collecting, aggregating, analyzing data in order to pontificate about the likes and dislikes of their audience, emotions are critical. It's not enough to have 23 million viewers. It's better to understand what they enjoyed or hated. 

The media industry has always been focused on making an emotional connection with its audience. Just look at the run-up to and the aftermath of the SuperBowl. We all know this is not just a game. It is big business for advertisers. GoDaddy created an ad that generated a lot of negative feelings. Whether it was planned or not, they pulled the ad and replaced it with another ad - equally annoying in my opinion but successful in making me take note of their brand. Budweiser continues to tug on our heartstrings with their puppy + Clydesdales storyline - to further cement the position of the brand as a warm and friendly.  

The benefit of the data coming from social networks is that it reveals sentiment. Sophisticated algorithms have been developed to assess whether a statement is positive or negative. Data scientists extrapolate terminology and identify trends. While social media and online behavior provide context in data analysis, that context is more than about what might have influenced a tweet or other social update. It is about the emotion expressed in those updates. 

Live programs are evolving to incorporate audience sentiment into their conversations. Real-time decisions can be made to abandon discussions or investigate "hot" topics more deeply. Reality and scripted TV benefit from the stories portrayed on screen as audiences develop emotional connections to the characters. While data analysis allows producers to better understand audience emotions and subsequently guide their social engagement and promotion strategy. 

Face to face we can read body behavior. Online it can be difficult to detect emotion, which can lead to misunderstandings. This is one reason why the emoticon has become so popular. Aside from being a fun way to quickly express an opinion, they help others understand our moods. 

Consider the ongoing quandary at Facebook about adding a dislike button. We've all wanted a dislike button, especially when we want to reinforce a friend's negative opinion of something. The challenge is understanding the business impact of clearly expressing a dislike. 

Is there business value to being emotional? Yes, there is! So, go ahead get emotional.

What's your perspective?