Working Papers

Uniting the Tribes: Using Text for Marketing Insight

Oded Netzer

Columbia University

Jonah Berger

University of Pennsylvania

Wendy W. Moe

University of Maryland, College Park

David Schweidel

Emory University

Ashlee Humphreys

Northwestern University

Aug 7, 2020

Words are part of almost every marketplace interaction. Online reviews, customer service calls, press releases, marketing communications, and other interactions create a wealth of textual data. But how can marketers best use such data? This article provides an overview of automated textual analysis and details how it can be used to generate marketing insights. The authors discuss how text reflects qualities of the text producer (and the context in which the text was produced) and impacts the audience or text recipient. Next, they discuss how text can be a powerful tool both for prediction and for understanding (i.e., insights). Then, the authors overview methodologies and metrics used in text analysis, providing a set of guidelines and procedures. Finally, they further highlight some common metrics and challenges and discuss how researchers can address issues of internal and external validity. They conclude with a discussion of potential areas for future work. Along the way, the authors note how textual analysis can unite the tribes of marketing. While most marketing problems are interdisciplinary, the field is often fragmented. By involving skills and ideas from each of the subareas of marketing, text analysis has the potential to help unite the field with a common set of tools and approaches.

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