A Balanced Meal

(Article originally published on HuffPost and AW360 for Advertising Week New York)

Cooking Blindly


Imagine for a moment: you are in a new kitchen with all the tools, recipe and ingredients in their exact quantities to prepare your favorite meal. Now let us assume that at no point through the cooking process do you taste the food, or test for completion using any of your other senses. In the end, you might produce a good meal; you have, after all, followed the process and quantitative directions while cooking. However, there is a chance that the food is not quite done, or possibly overdone as you did not account for the nuances and particulars related to working with unfamiliar equipment.

Neglecting to incorporate qualitative data has meant you may have missed an opportunity for the meal to be as ideal as possible. You might find the concept of cooking without using any of your five senses ridiculous; however, marketers sometimes fall into this very trap. In the age of Big Data, advertisers are hyper-focused on quantitative benchmarks and measures, which occasionally causes us to overlook qualitative data that is necessary in understanding the complete scope of what we aim to accomplish.


The Data Trap

On November 8, 2016 as the world watched Donald J. Trump become the 45th President of the United States of America, many people found themselves scratching their heads wondering how this came to pass. Polling data on the day of the election from 10 major polling organizations indicates only 1accurately predicted a Trump victory. Additionally, according to RealClearPolitics.com, Trump was only higher than Clinton in the polls on July 22, 2016. Another key consideration here is that according to Bloomberg, the Trump campaign only raised 54% of the amount raised by Hilary Clinton.

Regardless of where you fall politically, it is noteworthy that despite leading in both investment and independent polling figures (key quantitative benchmarks), the Clinton campaign missed something. The diagnosis of the errors in the polls suggest "nonresponse bias" was the primary cause for error, whereby a statistically relevant number of groups of people in support of Trump were not captured enough in polling data to accurately reflect the outcome. Ultimately, this meant that there weren't enough assumptions baked in to the polling forecasts to account for the social (qualitative) phenomena which were tied to a significant amount of Trump votes.

So… what can we, as marketers and advertisers, use as learnings from this?

How Qualitative Marketing Has Been Employed

Qualitative data is challenging to analyze and can therefore, make evaluating success difficult. Because of this, we sometimes shy away from integrating it into strategy or giving it necessary weight in discussion. When we examine real-world scenarios where qualitative data is overlooked or not rigorously considered and incorporated, even the best plans are prone to fail.

As an example of a scenario in which qualitative data has helped guide strategic thinking for marketers: consider your most recent dentist visit, and how -- in many situations -- you walked away with some free toothpaste. The strategy is simple; by leveraging an expert, the objective is to keep your brand top-of-mind when the consumer makes their purchase decision at the first moment of truth. The use of a professional effectively creates an implied endorsement for the brand and product which can provoke a thought and hopefully action at shelf.

However, from a measurement standpoint, we are not sure how much toothpaste the consumer already has at home, meaning the consumer may not have an immediate need to buy and therefore switch. If they are using a competing product, and have a large enough inventory at home, you may not realize the success of your efforts until six months later. Yet, when they reach the end of their current inventory, it might prompt a try-and-switch scenario.



I would recommend we all consistently challenge ourselves at the following three key touchpoints as we plan to be more effective at incorporating qualitative data:

  • Pre-Campaign: Look for opportunity using qualitative data from observation and patterns in conjunction with quantitative data to create more tightly-woven plans. For example: leverage key life moments such as going to college, or becoming a mother. Alternatively, look for opportunities to leverage professionals and perceived experts like dentists (from the example), beauty stylists, mechanics etc.
  • During Campaign: We need to experience our campaigns as much as possible to grasp how they work by putting ourselves in the shoes of our consumers. Experience the qualitative aspects of the campaign this way while also gathering your quantitative success measures. Live it to understand it, and then market it!
  • Post Campaign: Leverage efficiency studies in addition to ROI to help measure and understand both data sets to measure success and brand health

The same way we use both measurements and instinct with cooking, as marketers we should incorporate qualitative and quantitative data in our marketing efforts and strategies. Qualitative data will help us better understand the drivers behind quantitative information. Leveraging qualitative insights may also highlight strategic opportunities not previously considered. Most importantly, asking these questions and demanding this level of detail will not only ensure we cook up the best possible plans but that we also innovate.

Finally, as with the world of food, remember that you should never be afraid to try new things!

Aaron DeFaria

Aaron DeFaria

Vice President Sales (USA) at Rouge Media Group

M: +1 (310) 448 3244

e-mail: aaron.defaria@rougemediagroup.com


How can your brand engage and attract the massive US student population that has enough spending power?


As of today, the U.S. student population totals over 20 million young adults. 

Who are these students? Why should advertisers care? And how can marketers engage successfully with this group of consumers? 


Let’s start with the caring part. 

Marketers should care because of the sheer numbers.  A twenty million consumer group is big, over $400 billion in annual spending power big! During this year’s back to school season alone, students will spend more than $70 billion on various goods and services.  Furthermore, college students offer a clear market entry opportunity for advertisers.  If an advertiser successfully connects with students during their college years, it can translate into a long-term relationship between the brand and the consumer.  Under the right circumstances, today’s young adults will become future brand loyal consumers.  Just remember how cumbersome it still is to change banks, or to switch wireless providers.  It is critical for the long-term success of brands to start a relationship with consumers early.   

So, who is this American college student that we are talking to?

 It must be significantly noted that there is no longer a gender skew - the US student population is getting increasingly female.  By late 2016, women out-numbered male students, 11.7 million to 8.8 million.  Secondly, college enrolments are becoming increasingly diverse: the proportion of Hispanic and African-American student populations increased dramatically between 2000 and 2015.  Lastly, the discretionary spending powers of these young adults has been increasing constantly as a larger number of students are working full or part time. 


Now that we know who and why, the question becomes how can brands engage with these young adults? 


1.    Catch them Out-of-Home! 

Media consumption patterns are changing.  We are seeing a dramatic decrease in TV viewership amongst college students. In addition, close to 30% of US internet users will use an ad blocker in 2017.  With the recently exposed fraught in online media, even digital is facing real and fundamental challenges.  Out-of-home, on the other hand, works increasingly well when trying to connect with young adults: 51% of adults 18+ surveyed noticed a poster advertisement in the past month, the number going up to 61% for people age 18-24.  Out-of-home media is unavoidable, it is effective when compared to other media, and it works exceptionally well when targeting young consumers.  No wonder at Rouge Media, we are obsessed with out-of-home media. 



2.    The Place-based advantage


Because of today’s wide plethora of media options available to students, attention spans are limited.  Three out of every four millennials multi-task during commercial ad breaks on TV - they text, surf the web, engage on social media, etc. What does this mean for marketers? Very little time to get their point across, or finding alternative ways to communicate with this audience. College campuses are where so many young adults are in one place and spend the most amount of time. In today’s challenging media landscape, these campuses then can provide advertisers a scalable reach and frequency medium, helping brands score points in a contextually relevant setting. For example, despite all the questions surrounding the future of brick and mortar retail, three out of four college students plan to do their back-to-school shopping in-store.  Two out of every three students will do their back to school shopping in bookstores located on college campuses this year. Rouge Media enables marketers to engage with these students through a Digital OOH network it operates in over 500 colleges/university bookstores across the US. Our digital capabilities help reach an audience that is increasingly difficult to reach.  Our in-store digital media options allow brands to act quickly, so we can place advertisers at the right time and in the right location.          

3.    On-site Mobile & Social Amplification.

Not surprisingly, the younger generation is technologically savvy.  For students, this means smartphones. Students and their mobiles are inseparable as they spent more time on it than watching TV, and brands find the need to be present where they are.  Not just that, in order to be relevant to this young consumer group, brands also need to stand for something meaningful and give students the option to share the brand experiences. Rouge Media recognizes these dynamics and understands the importance of offering mobile amplification options.  By effectively integrating the mobile device to engage with students – in harmony with out-of-home media - the overall place based communications effort becomes more impactful.  It also helps extend the campaign’s overall reach and effectiveness.  Finally – and not unimportant - it will help provide marketers with valuable campaign insights.     

Intrigued?  Want to know more about how to communicate with young adults at universities?  Or with women and men in well-defined, targeted verticals?  Rouge Media markets place-based, permission-based media solutions in contextually relevant consumer environments.  Let’s talk!

Erik Bottema.jpg

Erik Bottema   

Chief Revenue Office (USA) at                 Rouge Media Group

M: +1(646) 581-6670

e-mail: erik.bottema@rougemediagroup.com


Sources: Deloitte, OAAA, OnCampus Research, Market Watch, Forbes, FluckU, Nielsen