The role of social media for marketing insights 


Josh Raper

“Brands and agencies can make the best decisions by creating an overarching data culture, where all data types are represented and understood across every department in an organization,” says Josh Raper, VP of Marketing, Affinity Answers, in an exclusive interview with TalkCMO



TCMO Bureau: According to you, what is the impact of social media on real-time business and marketing decisions?

Josh Raper: From a data perspective, we believe that companies should collect data in real-time to make informed decisions, but we would stop short of encouraging actual real-time decision making. Social media data is one of the richest sources of customer intent and behavioral data globally, but it is also just one data source. Social is important but a single piece to an overall marketing data puzzle.

Brands and agencies can make the best decisions by creating an overarching data culture, where all data types are represented and understood across every department in an organization.

TCMO Bureau: Do you believe brand-level data helps reach new addressable audiences?

Josh Raper: Absolutely. To clarify, brand-level data is unique to certain types of data (usually first-party data). However, there are third-party sources of brand-level data (e.g., social data) that can enable marketers to reach the people most interested in their brands, but also, and just as important, their competitors at scale.

The benefits of first-party, past-purchase, and loyalty data are undeniable when it comes to reaching existing customers – but where do brand marketers go from there? Third-party data that can provide accurate, brand-level signals to power penetration and conquest strategies has become the best friend to marketers of challenger brands. As a result, if the brands that dominate certain markets and categories don’t start noticing, they might not be the lead brands for long.

TCMO Bureau: How can social data be used by brands to identify the right sponsorships/partnerships?

Josh Raper: Social data is different from other types of data because it doesn’t rely on a single context. It can understand the total breadth of shared interests between people and all of the things they love, such as brands, TV shows, websites, movies, and more. This affinity is reciprocal, so you can also identify what people who love your brand also love when looking from a brand’s perspective.

So if you are a brand looking for a spokesperson, social affinity data can tell you which celebrities’ fans are also the biggest fans of your brand. Or, if you are marketing a movie or TV show, social affinity data can tell you which brands have the most similar fans to your media property or genre.

These data points become the steak behind the sizzle of sales pitches and provide actual proof that shared interests exist, and a partnership or sponsorship is the right way to go.

TCMO Bureau: How can enterprises move ahead with reaching and activating consumers in an increasingly fragmented landscape of devices, channels, and platforms?

Josh Raper: That is the question that will be asked for the next decade. Media and Entertainment companies are fighting for attention by deploying an arsenal of new platforms and content. Marketers, in turn, need to navigate the influx to find the right people at scale. As the content diversifies and fragments, so do the viewers.

There are certainly ways to understand who is watching what. CTV (Connected TV), OTT (Over the Top), and Streaming have definitely enabled a new generation of measurement and analytics. However, these are limited and siloed. Demographic data and verticalized viewership give a narrow view of who a person really is.

What has really surprised us at Affinity Answers is how much people engage with their favorite entertainment properties through social media. Nearly a billion engagements every month between people and their favorite shows, movies, artists, and celebrities. Because of this, social media can give marketers the key to select the right content to find the right customer – across the web, addressable TV, YouTube, and social.

Josh Raper, VP of Marketing at Affinity Answers, is a 15-year advertising veteran with a diverse background and significant experience in business and strategic marketing across digital and traditional experiences. Prior to joining Affinity Answers, Josh founded Toy Titan in 2012, which specialized in brand strategy, design, visual identity, brand refresh and start-up consulting. Josh has led major global and national campaigns for McDonald’s, Allstate, Kellogg’s, InBev, Esurance, among others.