Explainer: Persuasion Profiling


What It Is: Persuasion profiling is similar to behavioral targeting, but vastly different in scope. A behavioral targeting campaign uses data to let a strategist know what appeals to a consumer about a product; persuasion profiling uses data to find out what makes a consumer feel that desire in the first place. It goes beyond rudimentary psychographics to examine the cognitive recognition of basic needs and drives and how they respond to various stimuli.

How It Works: Persuasion profiling assesses a weight to various environmental conditions and emotional or social triggers that impel a consumer to purchase and then creates an conceptual framework within which a marketer can create an influence strategy. For example, data may indicate that certain recent college graduates express affinity for a beverage when it is seen to be affiliated with a pop idol and they tend to purchase it over other choices when peers express a matching affinity for it. That behavior would create a set of numerical tags which would mark that segment of consumers as heavily influenced by “authority” and “consensus”. The “consensus” of their peers would be held as the trigger which led them to conversion.
Why It Matters: Getting to the checkout is the goal of the myriad incarnations of creative advertising thrust at consumers daily. Ad campaigns which don’t speak to consumers’ key motivations for purchasing are a waste of ad dollars. Persuasion profiling goes deeper than the ubiquitous recommendation engines and gets to the heart of why we buy and how it relates to our identity and our chosen lifestyle. Cracking the code of consumer behavior isn’t rocket science, it’s about connecting with the flows of situational responses which are driven by consumer’s basic needs and interests. Persuasion profiling creates archetypes of consumers’ decision triggers which allow marketers to develop strategies that focus on referencing productive influences– such as an authority figure or social consensus — rather than emphasizing brand messages.
Who Is Using It: Companies using persuasion profiling include Amazon, Netflix and virtually every major political campaign. Persuasion profiling isn’t something that companies talk about openly as existing within their marketing strategy, any more than a used car salesmen would say “by the way, I’m using someone’s cute toddlers in this commercial to make me look like an honest family man to those of you that respond to that sort of thing.”
Assessment: Ads shown to the right audience at the right time that fall flat are an even bigger waste of resources and creativity than inaccurately- targeted ones. While the privacy debate rages, it is important to note that consumers, according to multiple studies, usually don’t mind ads that they recognize as relevant, interesting or enlightening on a subject of interest. Consumers won’t opt-out if they don’t feel buried in a flood of irrelevant ads. Knowing what makes a consumer “like” an ad psychologically is a lot more important than getting them to click a few buttons on Facebook. Persuasion profiling isn’t the last word in targeting, but it can give data-conscious marketers a substantial edge over those content with “you might also like” pop-ups.
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