Brands' Celebrity Decisions

Brands’ Celebrity Decisions Are in Need of Data Science

Many still turn their noses up at the idea or thought of celebrities, viewing it as a superficial and vapid business tactic. Which makes us wonder… Is this why celebrity work has largely managed to avoid the calculating scrutiny of data science while other areas at brands are now held to such high standards?

As it stands, the majority of brands’ celebrity decisions are based largely on hunch, without data or scientific logic to back them up.

The Spotted team is a dedicated group of bold, agile individuals from a diverse background of experiences. One such team member is Steve Hutchinson, Spotted’s Data and Insights Manager. After receiving his Ph.D. in Cognitive Sciences in 2015, Steve worked as a data scientist analyzing the national trends of on-premise beer, wine and liquor sales. He then joined the Spotted team in January 2017.

Working directly with Spotted’s brand and celebrity database on a daily basis, Steve is particularly poised to speak at large on why applying data science to the celebrity space matters. Below, Steve shares his thoughts on the value of applying data to areas you wouldn’t think to, the power of data to reframe brands’ past (and future) decisions, and more.

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Is it the data that’s new today? Or are just the opportunities afforded by data new?

Even the newest forms of data aren’t necessarily new. It’s just that collection methods continue to get better across the board. The collection and access were previously never available to us. For example, the breadth of social media and web traffic data now accessible via public APIs provides a new element that can enhance the potential of companies’ internally collected data.

Now that data collection and access are more readily available, we can understand the impact of various things that we previously had zero insights into.

Like the celebrity space. Very few companies and brands have used data to inform decisions here. There’s still a lot of work to be done there, but new doors continue to be opened for brands. Before (and even up until recently), brands just didn’t have any means of accessing data on how their brand related to celebrities in terms of affinity, audiences, etc. Now, it’s a matter of moving away from what was done in the past and looking to new opportunities, like what we’re doing here at Spotted.

It’s crazy to me that so many major companies and brands are making large-scale celebrity endorsement and campaign decisions based purely on who they like or even on a hunch.

Could you talk about the importance of data in the market today, no matter the industry?

There is a ton of value in applying to data to areas you wouldn’t think of applying data to at first.

Almost more than showing you what you could do in the future, data can help you figure out what you’ve been doing wrong and where you’ve made mistakes. This knowledge can help you restructure or rethink the way you would typically do things.

If you actually apply the numbers, you’ll see that there are times where your instincts may have been right. But I’m sure there are plenty more times where you were wrong (i.e. maybe a celebrity you paid millions of dollars to have endorse your brand actually had a low audience overlap with your brand’s audience). Maybe even with something you’ve done the same way for years.

Data can help people see that they weren’t making the most optimal decisions. I’d say data is more disruptive in the way it can help you understand what you’ve done wrong. One major realization, piece of data, or moment could completely open your eyes.

Do you have 1-2 actionable tips to share that brands can start acting on today?

I have two tips that brand marketers can start applying to the celebrity work they may be doing on a regular basis. I’d say:

1. Don’t become too attached to the celebrities themselves and who they are. Instead, focus on their audience, that audience’s specific demographics, etc. and how that audience aligns with your goals.

2. The traffic surrounding a celebrity is not always driven by positive factors. Negative factors can have just as large of an impact. When you see that a celebrity is trending or appears to be popular at the moment, make sure to account for the sentiment of the audience’s voice as well.

Have brand and celebrity data questions of your own? Send us a note on our website or tweet at us @SpottedInc_US!


Want to Keep Reading?

In order for a brand-celebrity partnership to truly be successful and go bone deep, you must look beyond the surface and towards the trends, numbers, and details — the cold, predictive facts. Here are four things you need to analyze when working to build an effective celebrity partnership >


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