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IBM Watson Cannes Lions The Drum

The Drum Top Trumps Game: Here's what it takes to be a Super Marketer


By Katie McQuater, Magazine Editor

June 15, 2016 | 7 min read

Personalisation is now at the core of most marketing strategies, with brands investing huge amounts of money and resources on ensuring they hit the right person, at the right time, with the right information.

With access to IBM Watson, The Drum decided to explore whether it is possible to gauge the character of the marketing industry based on the Twitter profiles of some of its most influential practitioners.

That data was then turned into a game of Top Trumps where characteristics are scored, and some people score higher than the rest.

An unsurprisingly creative bunch

What the analysis revealed was that, on average, the traits of imagination, intellect, adventurousness and authority-challenging scored highest for individuals in the marketing and media industries. Marketers are more likely to display the characteristics of imagination, intellect and adventurousness than over 85 per cent of the broader population - based on a sample number analysed by Personality Insights.

All of these elements are linked to the dimension of openness, indicating that the industry on the whole is more receptive to a variety of experiences than the population. This is to be expected in a highly creative industry where open-mindedness is essential to growth and staying ahead of the curve.

A high percentile of 85.5 for imagination represents an industry whose careers revolve largely around implementing creative solutions, whether it’s for clients or the transformation of their own businesses. It reinforces the picture of an industry with a higher number of creative thinkers than average, constantly questioning things and setting the pace for others to follow.

The challenging of authority is also highly prevalent in the analysis, with a score of 84.6 indicating that those in our sample display more authority-challenging characteristics than 84 per cent of the population – representing an industry where change is the only constant and norms are frequently cast aside in pursuit of new ideas and approaches.

Clearly conscientious

Marketers also scored highly on average against the model of conscientiousness, meaning the tendency to act in a way that is organised or thoughtful. Characteristics linked to this facet include dutifulness, self-discipline, self-efficacy and cautiousness, all of which received high scores on average in our 1,000 Twitter users.

They are also high achievers – or at least strive to be. The fifth highest scoring trait overall for marketers is their ambition for achievement in comparison to the sample population. Also considered part of the conscientiousness model, people who score highly for this trait are more likely to be driven by a hunger for success.

Afraid to show emotion?

On the whole, marketers’ traits tend towards openness and conscientiousness. But The Drum Top Trumps analysis found they may be lacking in the dimension of emotional range.

Also referred to as neuroticism, this includes traits that could be perceived as either positive or negative depending on context, all of which relate to the extent to which an individual’s emotions are sensitive to their environment.

For instance, the findings suggest that the marketers analysed are less self-conscious than 70 per cent of the population, which could be considered a positive boon as confidence and self-projection are traditionally seen as pillars of success in business. A high score for self-efficacy (more likely to display this trait than 78 per cent of the population) supports this.

The score for susceptibility to stress is also low, at 19.9, suggesting that marketers within the sample are less likely than 80 per cent of the population to be stressed. However, stress is a major issue in the industry; last year industry body Nabs claimed to have seen a 67 per cent increase in calls to its advice line from people seeking emotional support.

Using Watson’s Personality Insights tool, used to help businesses understand customers based on personality traits derived from their social media presence, and therefore shape their business strategies accordingly, we were able to paint a picture of an industry in constant flux and discover what personality traits are most dominant.

The process began through the curation of a list of 1,000 Twitter profiles of influential individuals from across the worlds of marketing, advertising, digital and media. By analysing the profiles of these individuals, Watson was able to infer personality characteristics based on three models:

1. The Big Five. The most widely used model for describing how someone interacts with the world, these are: agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, emotional range and openness.

Each of these top-level dimensions has six facets to further characterise individuals. For instance, imagination links to openness, while gregariousness links to extraversion.

2. Needs. Describing which aspects of a product will resonate with a person, this model includes 12 characteristic needs: excitement, harmony, curiosity, ideal, closeness, self-expression, liberty, love, practicality, stability, challenge, and structure.

3. Values. Describing motivating factors that influence a person’s decision making, this model includes five dimensions of human values: Self-transcendence/helping others, conservation/tradition, hedonism/taking pleasure in life, self-enhancement/achieving success, and open to change/excitement.

One explanation is quite simple: how an individual behaves on social media, while giving a fair approximation of their outward traits, is perhaps less revealing when it comes to traits such as self-consciousness, melancholy or how prone they are to worry. People project a different image of themselves online, particularly in a career context.

It could be argued that this is reinforced by the low score attributed to fieriness, another trait linked to this dimension. Individuals are potentially subconsciously putting a lid on such emotions to ensure they project a professional image.

Nurture and support

The industry could improve on its ability to nurture and coach others, the analysis suggests. With a relatively low score of 33.9 for self-transcendence (showing concern for the wellbeing of others), individuals are less likely than almost 70 per cent of the population to display behaviour that suggests they are interested in helping others and more concerned with putting themselves first – especially when compared to the high score of 66.1 for self-enhancement.

Three of the lowest scoring attributes relate to needs – love, liberty and practicality. As previously noted, marketers scored low for emotional range, so love’s low ranking is perhaps unremarkable. But the poor performance for liberty – a desire for fashion and new things, as well as escape – is extraordinary for an industry comprised largely of open-minded individuals.

top trumps mag

In the bleakest finding of The Drum Top Trumps however, cheerfulness is the lowest ranking attribute for individuals in the marketing industries, with our sample less likely to be cheerful than 84 per cent of the population.

Who do you trump?

If you’re one of the 1,000 individuals already analysed, you will have been sent your own personalised Top Trumps card with the latest issue of The Drum. If not, you can generate your own at

This article was first published as part of The Drum's AI issue, guest edited using IBM Watson technology.

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