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Seth Redmore discusses the future of online marketing with IMC grad students

February 18, 2016 | By Carson Brown (BSJ17)
Seth Redmore

If you’ve ever wondered if your favorite social media site is busy collecting your deepest and darkest secrets to use for highly specialized marketing campaigns, you may be right.

Seth Redmore, the CMO of Lexalytics, works on tone and sentiment analysis software that collects information on who is talking about what, and how they feel about it.

The sophisticated software Redmore works with is used to analyze the text, photo and video content produced online and consumed on a daily basis. In collecting and interpreting huge amounts of data, Redmore’s software is producing big information that will be invaluable for present marketers.

Redmore explained all this in his talk with a group of graduate marketing students in Medill IMC Lecturer Randy Hlavac’s Digital, Social and Mobile Marketing class. He said software like his will make a huge impact in student’s future careers.

If you’re making a conscious decision about [marketing content] and really understanding how much machines are listening to it, you can actually be more successful with what you write,” Redmore said.

Marketing teams can use software like this to measure consumer feelings towards any one given product before and after a campaign to give them more data-driven feedback.

The software analyzes patterns of language to determine how consumers are discussing a product or brand online. In collecting information directly from large swaths of online consumers, data is more useful for measuring the success of marketing strategies.

“I didn’t realize that the social influence is so powerful in marketing before this class,” said student Wenjing Fei (IMC16). “I think it’s very practical because we need these tools to measure the performance of a marketing strategy.”

Redmore’s goal in his talk was to flesh out the issues in marketing around social listening. He said there was a larger implication and value this software provided – to help brands determine which could survive and which may not.

“If you can’t listen, you can’t understand,” he said. “If you can’t understand, you can’t adapt.  If you can’t adapt, you die.”

In prioritizing adaptation, Redmore said there is a required level of focus when it comes to identifying the question that needs to be answered by the data.

“Meaning, have a good idea of exactly what you’re trying to figure out first,” he said. “Experimenting is okay, but you need to get to a question.”

He said he also runs into issues where his clients have unrealistic expectations.

“Unstructured data analysis is hard, and some vendors give expectations of 90 percent plus accuracy.  Which is not really possible,” Redmore said. Accuracy at those levels usually involves manipulated samples and data that may not reflect the wider consumer field.

Data analysis is a team effort, and Redmore said when he’s looking for a top employee, he wants someone with a great attitude, the ability to take constructive feedback and a willingness to learn.

Students said they value the practical knowledge approach this Medill course is taking in introducing students to practitioners in the field.

“Before I came to Medill, I was actually working in something similar to what [Redmore] is doing,” said student Shuyi Shang (IMC16). “So it’s a really valuable experience that I get to interact with someone who knows so much about this topic. I got a lot of new insights that enrich my understanding.”

For more information on Medill’s speakers and graduate programs in integrated marketing communications, visit our website.