Tagging and Empathy – An Exploration
Rebecca Schneider, content professional and Director of Content Experience at strategy agency AvenueCX, has kindly given us permission to make her presentation material for the recent IEN DAM Practitioner’s Summit available as a download from our DAM Whitepapers repository. In her presentation, focused on the use (and abuse) of empathy within marketing, she examines how metadata tagging might be extended to include more emotional and experiential context.
It’s probably best to define empathy up front as many people mistakenly use it as a synonym for sympathy, which is subtly different in its emotional meaning: sympathy is caring about and understanding someone else’s situation, whereas empathy is the ability to actually experience someone else’s situation, generally due to having been there themselves. Rebecca decided to investigate the concept of empathetic metadata after a comment she made at the 2018 DAM Summit that she’d like to see it more widely represented in asset tagging.
Opening her presentation with an anecdote concerning her own experience of suffering tinnitus, a ‘ringing in the ears’, Rebecca introduces us to the universal concept of knowing how someone else feels, and the empowerment we can find in recognising such shared experiences. She continues to break down empathy into its three constituent elements:
- Cognitive – recognising what the other person is feeling
- Emotional – feeling what the other person is feeling
- Compassionate – a desire to help the other person with their situation
The next section examines why empathy is important from a brand and marketing perspective, which Rebecca again distils into three main areas:
- Content experience
- Brand loyalty
- Consumer interest
“Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time”
Ann Hadley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs
Rebecca continues this theme by presenting various case studies and metrics that support the effectiveness of ‘emotional content’, for want of a better term, and how story-telling and proactively identifying with consumers’ feelings is essentially being leveraged to shift more product. Empathic design has been a well-used device in the marketing and advertising world for decades – one only has to suffer a few minutes of afternoon television commercials to witness the mawkish and not-so-empathetic attempts at tugging the heartstrings of the elderly in order to peddle funeral cover, life insurance, stair-lifts, electric beds and all manner of products to an incredibly tight demographic.
However, I’m happy to report that Rebecca’s presentation is concerned with far more subtle and honest mechanisms. She rightly highlights the necessity for empathetic content to be sensitive and contextual and doubly stresses the importance of exercising caution when weaving empathic design into any campaign. Her examples of ‘creepy marketing’ and how the misinterpretation of emotional content can spectacularly backfire perfectly demonstrate the risks.
Moving on to the implementation of empathetic metadata, Rebecca introduces us to the Empathy Map – a simple tool to gauge the emotional characteristics of individuals or groups – and how it can be used to identify the user’s context and emotional mindset (i.e. reasons why they might relate to the asset, product or message). The presentation concludes with a few guidelines: be careful in your approach (with such widespread consumption of data and media, it’s incredibly easy to offend large groups of people); consider running small pilot projects first; and be sure to identify your audience and its context.
Another area of interest that arises from the presentation is the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and whether it might be trained to assist in the task of empathetic tagging. Most major vendors have incorporated AI visual recognition auto-tagging into their products, yet as the performance is often less than satisfactory it cannot be trusted to gauge the emotional context of any given asset or its suitability for a sensitive campaign. The addition of empathetic tagging and perhaps even some form of ‘emotional taxonomy’ would certainly improve the value and findability of such assets.
The presentation materials can be downloaded here: https://damwhitepapers.org/whitepapers/28-tagging-empathyShare this Article: