This holds true today, and it unsettles us as digital marketers. The utopian message that underpins our industry is that everything is measurable, with Google AdWords the gold standard bearer in this regard. Le Bon’s statement is a truism that haunts Facebook, which offers a new form of engagement between consumers and brands, but has been plagued by measurement scandals of late.Google’s great success has always been in that accurate measurement of actions, and the easily calculable positive ROI that CMOs crave.Facebook brings that paradox inherent in the quotes from Le Bon and Bernays back to the fore in our industry, as it simply isn’t sufficient to measure actions alone on Facebook.

Why have we strayed from campaigns designed to shape emotion?
In digital marketing – particularly in search – the truth is that we have never really aimed to shape emotions in our audiences.We understand that emotion is an important driver, but it lends itself more readily to what some dismiss as ‘fluffy metrics’.Therefore, this lies outside the realm of the cold, hard numbers that we take to represent the ineluctable truth of campaign success or failure.This makes sense, placed in context.As a direct response mechanism, search comes into play once the work to shape emotions has already been done.To be successful,we need to make optimal use of those efforts (TV campaigns, for example), or make up for branding shortfalls, to maximize sales.

The challenge of measuring emotion online
Leaving aside the ongoing battle between Facebook and Google over data ownership, notably the difficulties in sharing data across their reporting platforms, the fact of the matter is that we will never be comparing apples to apples when we assess these two rivals.Put simply, the most successful Facebook campaigns manage to shape emotions through great creative, and drive actions through intelligent targeting.Applying a rational framework to an irrational interaction will inevitably and invariably come up short, but it’s the best we have.Measuring the subconscious is an undeniably complex task,but it is of pressing significance as brand spend slowly permeates its way into digital channels.

How are the tech giants approaching this?
The approaches taken by Google, Apple and Facebook fall broadly into two camps: biometrics and neuroscience.Progress has been swifter in the former camp, but we should not surmise from these advancements that biometrics alone will provide the answers we seek.Biometrics techniques measure physical characteristics (pupil dilation and facial expressions, for example), while neuroscience is the study of brain functions and patterns of brain activity.Both tasks are Herculean, but the big tech companies are more likely to make notable gains with biometrics in the short-term.

Google and ‘Satisfaction Value’
This is a crudely-drawn example, and perhaps reflects how far Google still have to go in this field, but it is a mixture of exciting and disconcerting.Google has termed this metric ‘satisfaction value’, and the measurement of facial expressions will no doubt be viewed in some quarters as overly intrusive.Biometric measurement is just phase one, of course.Facial expressions are limited and open to interpretation, so Google and its rivals will be looking for a further level of confirmation before using this as conclusive evidence.Neuroscience may ultimately provide the answers to the eternal questions of what really drives people to take actions, but this field understandably will take longer to arrive at those conclusions.

From emotion to action, from action to habit
That is an alluring prospect and is one that allow our industry to develop significantly, with the possibilities for click fraud reduced and the rewards for useful content increased.For now, it would be fair to surmise that digital marketers do not refuse to acknowledge the role of emotion in driving actions; it is rather the case that we have made a rod for our own back by insisting on themeasurability of everything we do.Until emotion becomes measurable as a contributor towards improved performance, this area may remain an untapped source of creative inspiration.However, with the collective might of Google, Facebook and Apple, fed by the hastening effect fierce competition has on progress, we may soon enter a fascinating and illuminating era for digital marketing.The culmination of this process could ultimately see us deliver on the goal of measuring the motives which have, thus far, escaped our observation.

Source:Searchenginewatch

Peter Zmijewski is the founder and CEO at KeywordSpy.His expert knowledge on Internet Marketing practices and techniques has earned him the title “Internet Marketing Guru“ He is also an innovator, investor and entrepreneur widely recognized by the top players in the industry.