Tag Archives: data

The Referee and The Player: Digital Media´s Dilemma

“We have also been calling for a long time for media owners like Facebook and Google not to mark their own homework and release data to ComScore to enable independent evaluation. The referee and player cannot be the same person.”

– Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP CEO)

The most successful companies of digital age are data companies. The data is their core business, so it is quite understandable they are not particularly keen to share their most valuable asset to third party companies. There is a worry that competitors could get to learn their secrets. The dilemma is that some of the secrets are crucial for business success, but other secrets are quite dirty.

“I don’t lie. I just massage the truth.”

– Jack Donaghy (30 Rock)

Facebook inflated numbers for their videos for over two years. I was not particularly shocked. 56% of display ads are never seen. Majority of the ads that are seen, are not really seen by humans but bots. 100 of millions of people are blocking mobile ads every single day, so you are most likely serving your ads to less digital savvy audience.

Digital advertising has always been prone to fidgeting with numbers. Anyone who has worked in digital media, knows that there are tricks to inflate certain KPIs when your monthly report is due. Companies are not exactly telling lies about their numbers, but they are not telling the whole truth either. Everyone reports their main metrics a little bit differently, so that the numbers match with their sales pitch (not the other way around).

It is not necessarily with everyone interest to have 3rd party assessment for the biggest platforms, but it would definitely help. Other important thing would be to have more unified metrics across the main platforms:

  1. For big reach channels with minimal ad interruption (e.g. Facebook) it should be the average audience in any given minute.
  2. For more interruption and visible formats (e.g. YouTube pre-roll) it should be the time seen and actions taken.
  3. At the end of the day it should always be about the eCommerce sales. Actual transactions are harder to fake with bots and different reporting standards.

It might also be that recent “videogate” does not change anything. The literacy for marketers regarding numbers and data is unfortunately still quite low.

“The issue is being hugely overblown. Marketers do not care about it, and it has zero impact on spend.”

Jason Stein (Laundry Service CEO)

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Obey Your Data

For various reasons I have been reading quite a bit about big data lately. Based on everything I read and the experience, I have come to three conclusions:

  1. It does not matter anymore why something happens. It matters that it happens.
  2. In life there is no such thing as certainty; therefore you should just aim for high probability.
  3. Correlation trumps causality.

“In many cases, the deeper search for causality will take place after big data has done its work, when we specifically want to investigate the why, not just appreciate that”
Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Kenneth Cukier (Big Data)

I would say that in our industry knowing why is more of a philosophical question. Examples show that when you just work on what you have (data) and act on that, the results are better. If data shows that it works, you don´t really need to know why it works. It might be interesting from academic point-of-view, but should not matter when doing marketing for the people.

There is still aversion against data in our industry. Maybe it is because logically thinking people generally don´t gravitate towards advertising (and why our business models are so antiquated). For lack of better data, we have tolerated egomaniacs (disguised as gurus) in our industry for too long.

Advertising is not a rocket science; it is just a data science. Just like everything else in this world.

We have self-inflated view of how difficult our work is, but eventually we will be replaced by algorithm. Gut feeling is not necessarily bad if it is based on experience. I.e. if you have done thousand display campaigns you know anecdotally that call-to-action button should be red. Too often, someone just wants it green because it is his favorite color. And person with no experience could say the right thing just based on the right data.

Experience will trump stupidity.

Data will trump experience.

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Why Don´t I Use Data on My Smartphone?

Constant amusement for my co-workers is that I use pre-paid phone with no data. So you cannot reach me with e-mail when I am not anywhere with Wi-Fi. I cannot be reached with WhatsApp (or at least not that fast).

Yes, I work in digital agency.

Originally this started because I was not quite sure how long I would be in Singapore. Now that it has gone well over two years, it might just be procrastination. When asked my odd mobile behavior, I will always tell these three reasons:

1. Only way to protest is through consumption

All of the telecom operators offer only 2-year plans, which I oppose in principle. I believe that you should be able to make profitable business without forcing the customer lock-in. Forced customer lock-in is total opposite of what great brand should do. It is a cheap move and there are smarter ways to do that lock-in as well (see: Apple)

If someone would come with more flexible plan, I would probably sign a proper deal. Until that, I am minimizing my phone costs and paying to any Telco by having the pre-paid. And they are already screwing me up with my home internet plan, so they are getting them nevertheless.

 2. Connectivity can be good: constant interruption is not

Being connected to Internet is a great thing and I damn the lack of data every single time I cannot get a cab. There is a superb app for that in here. If I would be constantly connected, I would also be constantly interrupted with different alerts (from mail, social media, other apps). That makes you stupid and it is a fact.

I counted that I have read over 100 novels, while I have been here. I mostly do my reading while commuting. With data, I would have probably read 100 novel worth of inane status updates or have a Nobel laureate in Candy Crush Saga.

3. Limitations set boundaries

My co-workers know that I do not have data and I generally do not read mails after leaving office. After a while they also respect that and also know where they can contact me if there is something urgent. As Internet and digital is so much of what I do at my work, I rather spend my spare time with analog activities. Which does not mean that it is a good thing, I just prefer vinyl records to music streaming services. Different strokes for different folks.

Am I a Luddite?

I don´t think so. I genuinely believe in the possibilities of digital. I think that digital detox is bullshit. Mobile Internet is constantly making our lives better. I am not a better person compared to antisocial commuters with their mobiles. I am antisocial with my book. What works for me, does not necessarily work for you. And vice versa.

I am also super excited about new technological possibilities. Yesterday I was totally amped up when testing new virtual helmet. I am probably abandoning my pre-paid days to fully experience Apple iWatch (as I believe in the potential of wearables). I constantly test new apps and services (I am even on Ello, which is probably the most overhyped new service ever). I usually test them for a while and find out what makes people tick. Why they are using them? Then I usually abandon them.

You don´t have to be a digital native to be able to do successful digital marketing. You have to be curious and always open to new things. And you better understand that none of your peculiar old-school habits reflect any other people. Then you will be just fine.

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