Discovering a “known unknown” in digital marketing

There are a near infinite number of variables that can trigger consumer engagement for a given marketing campaign, and only so many can be known and tracked. The best marketing and ad platforms actively leverage the largest set possible, identifying those delivering predictive signal, and rapidly replicating success. Some common examples include:

  • Resonating with customers with a particular purchase history? Behaviorally targeted.
  • Driving clicks from men in their 30s? Demographics optimized.
  • Tripling conversion rates across specific news sites? Context prioritized.
  • 60% of engagement with a particular creative? A:B testing.

Yet, after all this rigorous optimization, click and conversion rates usually remain inexplicably inconsistent. There isn’t much else that can be done; there are simply too many unknowns about all of us consumers as individuals. We’re all a lot more complicated than our purchase histories, demographics, and content interests, and there is only so much that algorithms can do with these limited data sets.

At Pinpoint we have been working to uncover what we consider one of the largest remaining “known unknowns” that moves the needle: stable psychological differences, or personality. To be clear, we’re not suggesting that personality alone determines a person’s interest in buying a specific product tomorrow; rather, we’re referring to personality-optimized creative and customer journeys.

Intuitively, we understand that specific words, phrases, colors, and images appeal differently to different people. Academic research supports this intuition and demonstrates a strong relationship between an individual’s personality and the words, colors, and images that prompt an individual to engage. One such example entails research that analyzed a Hilton target audience and found that engagement rates diverged significantly based on levels of Extraversion and Agreeableness. The researchers then crafted an Extraverted creative (groups of laughing people playing volleyball and barbecuing) and an Agreeable creative (families enjoying time together on the beach). These creatives were then targeted to either matched personalities (Extraverted people receiving Extraverted) or mismatched personalities (Extraverted people receiving Agreeable creative). The results were decisive: creative matched to the targeted personality resulted in clickthrough rates twice as high as the baseline.

While this is just one study, the emerging field of “Psychometric AI” brings quantitative psychology together with machine learning for much larger audiences, and is able to infer the granular personality characteristics of anonymized individuals at scale. This enables statistically significant measurement and understanding of how a given creative resonates across distinct personality traits, and is complementary with many of today’s common practices, such as dynamic creative optimization (DCO).

Pinpoint is a pioneer in commercializing privacy-safe Psychometric AI, and we’re very focused on its potential to greatly enhance creative optimization. We’ll have much more to share about the known unknown of personality-based optimization in the months to come.