‘Narrative Analytics’ Targets Consumer Beliefs

In the latest attempt to figure out what consumers want and how much they are willing to pay to get it, a “narrative analysis” platform launched this week crunches “cross-platform data sets” to divine consumer “beliefs and motivations.”

San Francisco-based Protagonist (formerly Monitor 360) said this week its platform leverages machine learning and natural language processing to gauge the “narratives that impact a given market.” Narratives are defined as “consumer beliefs that drive behavior.”

The platform, which combines data science with social science to reveal consumer “beliefs at scale,” is aimed at chief marketing officers and advertisers. It is also intended to replace traditional market research tools such as focus groups, customer surveys and social media campaigns.

The narrative platform is the product of two years of development applying natural language processing and machine learning to process and “assign meaning” to huge data sets derived from different media. The result, the developer claims, is a “comprehensive representation of narrative signals, incorporating thousands of data points and specially tailored considerations.”

“Listening in on people’s beliefs and opinions via major news outlets, social media, blogs, and consumer review platforms provides a holistic vantage point that can surpass the authenticity of traditional surveys and polls,” the company noted in a recent blog post unveiling it narrative platform.

The platform incorporates analytics, a “subscription,” or mapping tool used to track narratives along with a “playbook” used to distill narrative analytics into a marketing strategy.

Narrative analysis is designed to reveal both the user’s competitive landscape and customer base. “Each narrative is then assigned an impact score to illustrate its relative level of influence,” the company said, adding that its platform “tracks trends and maps them together to identify opportunities.”

Machine learning capabilities are used to train the Protagonist platform, and the company claims more than 200,000 hours of “cumulative narrative analysis expertise.” As company analysts make judgments about consumer sentiment, “filters, classifiers, and algorithms become more adept at finding, measuring, and shaping the narratives,” the company said.

Another key component of narrative analytics is brand loyalty. “Brands are at their most powerful and resilient when they can tap into the deep beliefs that motivate their audiences,” asserts Protagonist CEO Doug Randall.

Hence, the company counts several well-known brands among its early customers, including General Mills, MetLife, Microsoft and Warner Brothers.