How to stay ahead in changing times: three top tools to inform your planning
Head of Strategy & Planning, Hearst Performance
While advertisers, agencies and publishers have been using insights from digital data to help supplement traditional forms of research for a while, we’ve seen the benefits of this type of data really come to the fore since the outbreak of coronavirus.
So how do we keep clients up-to-date on changing consumer and market perceptions in such a fast-moving landscape?
By capturing actual behaviour (rather than claimed), we are able to collect and surface real-time digital data at scale with a holy trinity of digital data insight tools. These are:
1. Search: search data allows us to understand what the nation is thinking; as it is entirely unprompted it is a great barometer of mood. In the absence of past data mirroring our current situation search trends can inform brands and publishers on what content is best to create. Over the past month search trends have seen pronounced changes with huge increases in terms such as ‘coronavirus’, ‘stock market crash’ ‘can I freeze milk’ and ‘how do I freeze’ which have soared from very small numbers (even in the first week of March) to a peak around the time the country was put into lockdown. Moving into April volume on these terms has declined indicating people are over the initial shock of lockdown and are now occupied elsewhere. We always corroborate this data and grocery buying behaviour reflects a new normal post-lockdown; where grocery sales were +44% year on year wc 21st March, last week they were -2.4% on last year.*
To add further depth and granularity we have developed a proprietary Search Insight tool that captures all Google terms Hearst properties are visible on, giving us live trending data on what is relevant to Hearst and its readers. The advantage of this tool is that we get live search data, whereas on Google if you aren’t bidding on a term it takes over a week to see data and even then it’s only an index, from this we can see how searches have moved from ‘does Asda do online delivery’ and ‘is Lemsip anti-inflammatory’ to life under lockdown ‘can I wash my car in lockdown’ and even lightening the mood; in the first week of April, there was a 957% rise in ‘coronavirus jokes’ and 180% rise in ‘coronavirus memes’ searches.
2. Social Listening: social listening allows us to passively monitor consumer conversations in all non-private and logged in social environments. This monitoring allows us to delve deeper into opinions tracking volume and flow of consumer conversation; consumers may have stopped searching for holidays but what are they most concerned about and when are they planning to re-book? Social listening provides colour on the topline data that search provides.
3. Media data: through natural demand on brand and category search terms we are bidding on, and by monitoring what advertising audiences are responding to as well as who is visiting the site and how long they spend on certain pages we can quickly see the impact consumer perception is having on the brand and category. This data is more brand-specific and therefore smaller in scale but also allows us to test different messaging and tone at a small scale to see how consumers react.
While the outbreak of coronavirus has quickly changed consumer focus, once lockdown is lifted this will likely change again. Consumer demands may well change and brands need to address these. With market disruption comes great opportunity and the ability to win share from competitors by appealing to new segments.
Clearly, marketers should harness the power of digital data insights in times of change. It is only by understanding how the consumer journey is being impacted in real-time that will ensure brands are able to react faster than their competitors.
*Nielsen Homescan 2020
Originally published at https://www.hearst.co.uk.