The idea of using data to win the brand game is not new. But if the film Moneyball taught us anything we can translate to the increasing complexity of digital, it's that the players should never become more important than what the team needs: results. Playing a kind of "smartball" on brand teams today means insisting that digital players be leveraged against a larger strategy. In short, that a brand's playbook is not a story of technological possibilities, but a diagram of brand profitability.

This critical need led to the birth of Brand Keys' Digital Platform Engagement Index (DPEI), the first large-scale syndicated work to link consumers' emotional and rational decision-making across 83 categories to the most widely used 14 digital platforms – giving brands a Digital Platform GPSsm that locates the cross-hairs of brand and digital engagement.

In identifying the intersection of digital and brand, we also identified a new demographic group. We call them the "Higitals," who represent the top 20% as regards digital involvement. It would, of course, have been a lot simpler if it turned out that we could define this group as consumers who spent a particular amount of time with digital platforms and leave it at that. But life – like digital – isn't simple. It's very, very complex, as CMOs have been discovering.

It turns out that digital platform engagement differs by category. So being classified as a "Higital" when it comes to the Airline category is defined as those consumers who spend 28 to 35 hours on digital platforms per week. Cell phones, 50 to 84. Major League On-Line Gaming, 65 to 92.

An examination of those who choose to engage with a category and are in the top 20% of the digital involvement range also demonstrates a dramatically different way in how they "see," what they expect, and how they approach the engagement-buying-loyalty decision. Also how they see digital working in the category space. In short, Higitals are not only high users, but that usage moves them in dramatically different ways from the general population.

And that matters to all of us to deal in building brands and engagement and loyalty and sales, because they bear witness to what we have suspected for a long time: a change is indeed afoot, as Sherlock Holmes reminds us. We need nothing less than an explosion of previous limitations if we are truly to understand and strategically and effectively participate in that change, and we believe that the debut of this kind of research that will change the way the game is played.