Have a Heart: Using Data to Build Human Connections

Data-driven creativity is a big trend in marketing, but the focus should be on human connections, says Cheryl Maher, President of local Atlanta advertising agency SCOUT. Maher explains how SCOUT measures a company’s human brand index, then builds a campaign that allows brands to connect with consumers on an emotional level.

Cynopsis: Since you’re Atlanta-based, we have to ask – how does SCOUT deal with the Super Bowl?

Cheryl Maher: With our top clients being popular game time snacks – Farm Rich mozzarella sticks, SeaPak popcorn Shrimp, and Carvel and Oreo Ice Cream Cakes –  SCOUT’s workload heavies up in preparation for the Super Bowl by amplifying digital and social media initiatives and targeted, high-volume FSIs and impactful shopper marketing campaigns including game time in-store displays.

Cynopsis: What marketing trends do you think will have the biggest impact in 2019?

Maher: CMO.com lists data-driven creativity as one of biggest marketing trends in 2019, and I couldn’t agree more. But, the focus on human connection needs to be at the heart of any strategy. Too often agencies go too far with the intense focus on data and forget that data is attached to and tells the story of a human. In order to use data to help brands understand their consumers and the markets in which they compete, the emphasis should be on creating a holistic view of the consumer as a human – using different data sets and inputs to build out personas that can help brands become and stay relevant.  

We’ve seen this trend coming and thus have developed a proprietary brand strategy and activation process called The Human Brand Method™ that leverages truth through insights to find opportunities for brands to connect with a target on an emotional, human level. This helps us tell a brand’s story with an integrated communications plan that delivers sustainable, meaningful connection. To guide this work and provide a way to accurately measure a brand’s human connection, SCOUT pioneered a new metric: The Human Connection ScoreTM. This score is a based on the strength of  the 5 Characteristics we found to drive a successful human connection: Trust, Personality, Warmth, Social Impact, Fit. 

Cynopsis: How do you think agencies need to evolve to adapt to the changing media landscape?

Maher: Agencies need to embrace and understand the impact of automation and AI technology  to create relevance through personalization in 2019. It’s about enhanced understanding of consumers and increased ability to personalize the message in a way that wasn’t possible until now. Consumers are more selective and more mindful in the media they consume, and new technology will allow advertisers to efficiently bring the right and relevant message to the desired consumer.

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