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Ruth Peters: have yourself a data-driven Christmas

We all have those friends or family members that are impossible to buy Christmas presents for. How do you go about it? Do they have a list? Do they say those dreaded words – “surprise me”?

Whoever the person, the question remains the same: just how do you go about getting the perfect Christmas gift for friends and family?
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It may surprise you to hear that the answer lies in technology, and specifically, gaining a deeper insight into the individual through social affinity. The key is in the quality of the data, utilising information from a raft of different sources to drive a level of understanding of an individual’s likes and dislikes that has never been possible before.

We’ve used our pioneering technology, with a topic graph at its heart to drive real consumer insight. This data structure encodes millions of concepts and links them based on ontological, categorical, semantic and affinity-based relationships. This four-pronged approach ensures that, when someone talks about a specific TV show, for example, we understand what else they will be interested in – from other TV programmes to their preferred retail brands or fast food.

This data is derived from three main sources – semantic and categorical relationships are extracted from Wikipedia, ontological relationships from Freebase and affinity from millions of social network profiles.

When you’ve done this, you’ve got an unprecedented insight into that special person’s perfect gift, and you might be surprised by the results.

The technology behind these insights is a huge leap beyond anything seen before. So, while it’s great to use it to discover that your brother would love to spend hours over Christmas playing Monopoly, in reality, the implications for brands and retailers are far more valuable than simply alleviating the headache of Christmas shopping.

Driving consumer insight through social affinity will have significant implications for any brand that seeks to deeply understand what the customer wants, needs and will ultimately purchase. Data from things like purchasing history can take you so far, but if you want to know your customer as an individual, then social affinity will reveal far more than simply knowing their age, sex and what they previously bought.

Think of the implications here – this kind of insight could impact on decisions from which lines to stock or which products to develop, to how individual customers are targeted with advertising, right through to which products are placed where within a retail outlet.

The possibilities are endless for the smart retailer or brand who understand that, with competition fiercer than ever, knowing your customer on a personal, individual level will be the key to success.

Here are our 12 Christmas Insights to illustrate how the technology works:

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imagesRuth Peters is vice president of marketing at audience intelligence and measurement company Intent HQ.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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