Why Brands Should Pay Attention to Social Affinity

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Adotas talks with Sree Nagarajan, CEO, AffinityAnswers (pictured left) about how analyzing social behavior predicts brand engagement.

Q: You’ve said that social affinity indicates that there is some kind of relationship between one brand and another. What specifically is behind it?

A: It’s actually an indication that a relationship is very likely to develop. We are tracking the public social behaviors of over 400 million social users across 60,000 brands, TV shows, celebrities – basically anything with a verified profile. Using this public engagement data, we’re able to quantify the strength of this potential relationship between, say, Netflix and PlayStation by looking at whether and how each brand’s fans are engaging with the other brand.

Q: Why does social affinity matter?

A; We’re able to look at the total sphere of social engagement around a particular set of users. For example, Netflix users are likely to engage with PlayStation, but they’re also engaging with Apple Music and Lyft. This has major implications for how we apply predictive analytics to audience data – when we create programmatic audiences by scoring cookies and device IDs, these audiences are now primed for brand campaigns instead of direct response or retargeting campaigns. Because of this, targeting audiences using our segments strengthens the brand’s prospects.

Q: How can marketers be sure that this works?

A: Because of the scale behind social engagement, and how we’re continuously tracking affinities between brands, social affinity also serves as a means of branding attribution. For example, Nickelodeon had a partnership with the USPS, where the classic blue mailboxes were made to look like SpongeBob SquarePants. Over the course of the campaign, social affinity between SpongeBob and the USPS grew, while social affinity between SpongeBob and the USPS’ competitors remained flat. This is a solid indication that a marketing event in the offline world impacted consumers’ social interactions. The next step for us would be to link social affinity to sales or television viewership.

Q: How should marketers regard social affinity vs. all of the other tools that are at their disposal?

A: Social affinity is bringing clarity and quantification to the “pre-intent” phase of the consumer journey – that portion which lies between awareness and purchase, but is often not linear because of multiple sources of information and increasing choice of products and services for consumers. When social affinity is applied to campaigns, marketers should think of it as a way to supplement efforts that are already being made to make consumers aware or convert them. It’s about expanding your audience in the most meaningful way possible.
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