Whoever thought “big data” wouldn’t be big enough? But here we are. The advertising industry is awash in data, and yet so many brands still lack true insight.

Despite the daunting amount of information and resources at marketers’ disposal these days, advertisers still tend to make assumptions about the consumer mindset. And those assumptions need to be challenged—not by simply more data, but by digging deeper and connecting with the true humans beneath the audiences.

Here at Anagram, we’re fully committed to mixing human understanding with evidence-based marketing to evolve how humans and brands connect. But what does that really look like?
I’m glad you asked.

Breaking Through in a World of Commoditized Data

Brands today have access to a lot of data sets. The challenge, as we see it, is that all brands have access to the same data sets. And that means, quite often, a group of competitors are drawing from the same industry staples to draw conclusions about their audiences and marketing programs and then actioning on them in very similar ways.

The problem is two-fold:

  1. How is a brand ever going to break through in a crowded industry if it’s working from the same data as its competitor? In short: It can’t.
  2. Is that data even capable of delivering the level of human understanding required to make a truly human connection? We think not.

It’s the brands that go deeper to uncover true audience insights that are the ones that manage to change their trajectories. Today’s standard industry data sets are woefully incomplete on their own. They’re pre-baked, pre-defined, and they ultimately lead us all to the same unsatisfactory answers.

We can do better.

Turning Empathy into Action

At Anagram, we believe true brand connections start with empathy. And that means replacing assumptions with real conversations about why people buy. Then, marketers need to be able to take what was learned in those conversations and model it in a way that aligns advertising activities with the real-world journey that people take through channels to arrive at a purchase.

Ethnographies—deep studies into the culture, motivations, and behaviors of groups of people—give marketers empathy. This is where marketers need to start—at the qualitative level, where true human understanding is possible. Ethnographic understanding can take many shapes in terms of custom research, and marketers shouldn’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to looking through the windows into their customers’ worlds. For example, consider the richness available in something as simple and accessible as a brand’s Amazon reviews. Have you ever seen such a treasure trove of honesty, sentiments, and emotion as what can be found in a stream of candid Amazon purchase feedback? This is but one example of the insights that can fuel a unique understanding of the real humans that represent a brand’s customer base.

3 Steps to Building Human Understanding

Building a brand on human understanding sounds simple in theory. But how does it manifest in real-world action? At Anagram, we start with the following core concepts.

  1. Start with the humans. In other words, begin with qualitative research such as an audience ethnography. This step alone represents a clear way to set your brand and its approach apart from competitors. Most brands and their media agencies begin with commoditized data sets and seek to refine and develop insights from there. But if you start with a deeper approach and then leverage data to build on that unique understanding, the overall outcome will be one that’s tailored, insightful and wholly inimitable.
  2. Break down the silos. As humans, we’re multi-dimensional. Why, then, should we be anything less as marketers? At Anagram, we believe the real magic of a campaign happens when you connect people across media, creative, and brand and empower them to work together toward the same goal. It seems simple: No team should work in a vacuum. But as marketers, we know how rare this type of collaboration is in reality because it requires a new way of connecting teams. At Anagram, this was our starting place in building a new kind of agency.
  3. Embrace collaborative growth. There’s no growth if it’s not for all. This mentality isn’t just a rallying cry to bring internal teams closer together. It extends beyond a brand’s or agency’s own walls. At Anagram, we grow alongside our own teams as well as our clients, both as individuals and an organization. In other words, true human connections, built on human understanding, mean we’re all rooting for each other.

In a world of commoditized data, brands need to be working with partners that can help take them beyond the boilerplate audiences revealed by widely accessible data sets. At Anagram, that’s where we shine. We leverage our human expertise alongside our wholly unique data tools to reveal more than just audiences. We reveal humans.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with us here.