Analyze This: The Latest Digital and Consumer Intel from ARF’s RE:THINK Conference

Do Not Disturb Sign Final CroppedComing to terms with issues surrounding big data and digital’s vast terrain seems like running on an endless treadmill. But at ARF’s RE:THINK 2014 conference in New York this week, attendees found some answers to dilemmas like online consumer privacy, what drives contagious content and defining digital metrics. A research survey, mnemonic device and reference guide all contained clues, and below are key takeaways.

Consumers’ reaction to online privacy incursions: Do not disturb.
“The creepy part of privacy invasion is when they get it right”, said Communispace’s chairman, Diane Hessan. Her firm collaborated with Pew Research Center, conducting research among 50 global communities, to understand tradeoffs between online privacy and personalization.

The key finding: 86% of consumers would stop data tracking if they could. Only 14% would like to receive targeted offers based on purchase or browsing histories. Older consumers are more concerned with privacy, and younger ones are more open to offers. Online users want to avoid invaders like hackers or advertisers, finding targeted ads to be annoying, creepy and intrusive.

Hessan said it’s important to draw the line when marketing online. Her advice to increase receptivity is to first establish relationships with consumers, provide more ways for them to signal their willingness to receive online offers, and try to walk a mile in recipients’ shoes.

Oreo Royal Baby TweetContagious/shareable content: It’s all about REACH
In U.S. politics, talk revolves around “reaching across the aisle”, but to understand what drives contagious, shareable content, ARF reached across the pond, to an analysis by Kantar Media’s London office. Euan Mackay, senior associate director, and James Burke, associate director, reviewed examples from both sides of the Atlantic, arriving at an effective mnemonic: REACH.

RELEVANCE: Content must be relatable. The pair cited The Guardian‘s 100 social media profiles, arranged by categories. (It’s not all about Snowden, since music and many other topics are included)
EMOTION: This is content “that gets people in a bit of a tizz”, they noted. A prime case in point is the Daily Mail and Mail Online, covering news and gossip. (The Brits have plenty of those stories, like Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson’s divorce and trial.)
AMBIENCE: This refers to context, especially worldwide events like the Super Bowl and the Royal Baby’s birth. Oreo nailed both events with clever, compelling tweets.
CURRENCY: This means social currency, involving “people badging themselves”, the duo reported. It reflects what people think of your sharing. (But celeb gossip is more a guilty pleasure than a badge). Timing is key, like being the first to tweet the Oscar selfie.
HANDINESS: This is largely transactional in nature, since it involves sharing content that offers discounts and coupons. Sharing access to deals adds to one’s social popularity.

Digital Metrics Field Guide CroppedDigital Metrics Field Guide: Analyze that
This recently released guide by Stephen Rappaport, doesn’t translate worlds like “tizz” but it’s a handy reference. It defines terminology related to the web, email, digital, social and mobile media. Rappaport said “it’s about discovering the humanity in the metrics”. The ARF, where Rappaport served as head of the Knowledge Center, sponsored and published the book.

Quizzes have become quite popular in online and social media forums, but chances are that not even digital specialists have comprehensive enough knowledge to explain 197 specific terms and proper circumstances for their use. With definitions ranging from abandonment rates to viral impressions, this guide serves as a go-to resource.

Post Script: It’s been several years since the films Analyze This (1999) and Analyze That (2002), but we found brief quotes from a couple characters in the first movie:

Dominic: “Times are changing. You’ve got to change with the times.”
Boss Paul Vitti: “What, am I supposed to get a f*****’ website?”

Today Vitti would also need to make his site mobile and tablet-enabled, be influential on social networks, utilize the right metrics, find ways other than using expletives for his content to be shared, and be more restrained in his customer relationships.