The Secret to Measuring the ROI of Brand Sentiment

If you’re a marketer with a pulse and a subscription to Ad Age, you’ve heard that great content is the key to building relationships with your target audience. But amidst all the top-of-funnel engagement metrics, lead attribution data, and fancy Powerpoints designed to convince our bosses to double our content marketing budgets, one question often goes unanswered: What type of relationships are we building?

That’s the question Anda Gansca, founder and CEO of Knotch, and Dana Griffin, the company’s CRO, are trying to help brands answer—at scale.

At the Cannes Festival of Creativity this past summer, I sat down with Gansca and Griffin to discuss the science of brand sentiment, how the world’s most innovative brands measure it, and what role content plays in building strong relationships between consumers and brands. Check out the video below, which was created as part of our Accountable Innovation Series in partnership with Magnet Media, an industry-leading global strategic studio.


Joe Lazauskas: Hi and welcome to Accountable Innovation at Cannes. I’m Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief of Contently. And I’m here with Anda and Dana from Knotch, the platform that’s really changing the way we think about brand sentiment and getting a lot of buzz here. Guys, thank you so much for joining me on this beautiful patio overlooking the ocean.

Dana Griffin: Thanks for having us.

Anda Gansca: Thanks for having us. It’s amazing. We’ve been taking selfies.

Lazauskas: Two hot seats this time instead of one like we normally have. Are you guys ready?

Gansca: Very ready.

Lazauskas: Alright, to start: What’s the most underrated content marketing metric?

Gansca: I have to say it’s sentiment because that’s what we specialize in measuring. No, but even beyond that, we didn’t just choose to do this because we thought it was cool. We chose to do this because we saw there was a really big market need for it. I think marketers are trying to really get past this idea of just viewability or engagement, and into, “Have we managed to move this person emotionally? Have they taken an action based on it?” So that’s what we specialize in measuring.

Griffin: From my perspective, especially talking to marketers, I think focusing on one metric only to understand the impact of their overall media spend is the biggest mistake. So when I think about underrated, I always think about: You have to understand sentiment, you have to understand how people react to you, but also who they are and how they consume your content to make the best decision. So I would flip it back to you and say it’s not just one thing. You really have to look across the entire combination of KPIs,

Lazauskas: What’s your secret to reaching such high-level people?

Gansca: So, first of all, I will start by saying that we’re a very good team. So we prepare these briefs with people’s faces in advance, and I’m like, literally I think I have some type of gift where I don’t know anyone’s name, but I remember their faces, and I usually point Dana to someone. Dana goes in and introduces herself. And I’m usually the awkward introvert right behind her, and then: “Hi! And also I’m here. I recognized your face.”

I’m joking, but that’s actually a lot of how we got to doing well.

Griffin: I can’t remember faces, but I will walk up to anyone.

Gansca: So in the past, we’ve been—this is our third year. And I think in the first two years it was a lot more about that. And now this year, I think it’s also the fact that we’ve managed to get on the main stage, with like the CMO of JPMC, who’s one of our amazing customers. Kristin Lemkau, she’s fabulous. And I think that just opened the door for us to be more credible. People started paying attention more, and so it’s a little bit easier.

Lazauskas: What do you think is the biggest mistake that marketers make?

Gansca: It’s hard to pick. I’m joking. So I think there’s a lot of issues in our industry, and I talk about this a bunch, around transparency, and sort of trusting data from sources that aren’t to be trusted. You’ll see a lot of distribution channels reporting on their own performance. I think marketers, their biggest mistake is that they’re not doing enough to fix these issues. They’re talking a lot about the fact that transparency is a big issue. They want to fix it in their own brand, in the overall industry at large, but they’re not doing enough.

And so we’ve actually just this week onstage launched this idea, which is a nonprofit initiative to get distribution channels certified as transparent open partners willing to share their data with brand partners. And so we gave brands a very actionable thing to do, and I’m hoping that we’re gonna see a big uptick in that over the next few weeks.

Lazauskas: Amazing.

Griffin: So in addition to what Anda said, which we’re completely aligned on, one of the things that I’m seeing in the industry is that legacy metrics are being used to measure new distribution platforms. And I think that is a huge mistake because there’s so much interactivity and variation in new distribution platforms that you can learn about your audience so much more than trying to fit legacy metrics in it.

So that’s one of the things that we’re committed to doing at Knotch, is understanding what those metrics are and aligning the organization around those metrics to move business results. Because it’s ultimately moved by business results, not viewability.

Lazauskas: And I imagine you have a lot of insight here. A question that I get asked a lot: Native advertising or owned content, which is more valuable to invest in?

Gansca: I think it’s important to do both. I think the two serve two different purposes. We actually, when we work with brands to measure their bought content or native content, we tend to link back to the old content to drive more traffic towards it. I think the bought content is to hook people, and the old content is to get people to really be a loyal follower.

Griffin: Exactly. So just like you said, if you want to really go down the funnel, right, the native is bringing in the new audiences, so you have the opportunity as a brand to create very interesting segmented creative to bring in the audiences that you want. But then you nurture them through the funnel with your own content.

Lazauskas: I think that’s a great way to look at it. And last question, hard-hitting one: Who’s the coolest person you’ve met here so far?

Anda: So I’ll say it’s actually my friend, Ari Kuschnir. He runs a VR agency, I think the first one ever. It’s called “m ss ng p eces”. Dana and I went to his dinner last night, and it was so amazing. It was filled with creatives. I think it’s like what Cannes used to be, which is a bunch of creatives, not just like tech companies and data nerds and agencies like ourselves. And it was really great to reconnect with so much creativity.

Image by iStockphoto

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