If Steve Kerho wasn't such a successful analytics geek, he might be a great science-fiction writer. A fan of the genre, Kerho--Organic's svp, strategy, media, and analytics--sees his role at the agency as akin to futurists who develop different scenarios about how the world could be, and how people might react to new possibilities. His prognoses have been particularly helpful to some big companies, including Hilton, Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble, Nike, ConAgra, and Chrysler.
This year, for instance, his predictive analytics helped ConAgra's Healthy Choice public relations team figure out how much Twitter activity it would take to sell the equivalent of a case of Healthy Choice frozen dinners (90 tweets of positive sentiment for those curious). Last year, Organic created a way to link social media to requests for samples of Kimberly-Clark's new U by Kotex product (to help determine ROI), which helped drive an 8 percent increase in market share for the brand in 2010. It was one of the year's most successful new-product launches.
In general, Organic is known for its digital media analytics expertise. But Kerho, who is known as a trailblazer in predictive modeling, upped the ante in 2011 by developing the Connection Index, a proprietary tool shared with clients, which simplifies all of the drivers of consumer online behavior into one metric for brand managers. Using that number, Organic identifies which digital marketing elements are generating sales, allowing marketers to adjust their media mix in real time as opposed to figuring out what worked in hindsight.
Kerho clearly loves his data, but insists it takes creativity to turn it into insights. "We're at the fascinating intersection where art and science meets, and we can actually be predictive of return on investment," he says.
His keen understanding of clients' needs reflects his own experience at companies like Nissan North America, where he was director of interactive marketing and media, before joining Organic in 2008. (Kerho also has held various marketing, product planning, strategy, and sales positions at Mazda Motors of America and Isuzu Motors of America, as well as serving as chief strategy officer for The Designory.) All of which makes him a different sort of media executive.
"Steve is unique in that he marries media, analytics, and strategy, which is very powerful," says Organic CEO Marita Scarfi. "I haven't seen anyone before with that trifecta of skills."