Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Data is a distraction

The paradox of modern marketing can be summed up in two quotations by Dr. W. Edwards Deming.

"In god we trust. All others bring data."

"The most important things cannot be measured."

We are awash in marketing data today. Between behavioral tracking on the web, GPS enabled devices that are capable of telling us where a consumer is when he accesses our mobile ad, set top box information from cable and satellite providers, check-out scanners, bio-feedback research and a whole host of other new technologies; we have more data than ever about when, where and how consumers interact with marketing communications.

Unfortunately, none of it matters because we have no idea whether what we're measuring actually drives sales.

Did a customer buy because he clicked on a banner ad, saw a TV spot, liked us on Facebook or got a digital discount as a reward for checking in on Four Square? And just because someone did it today, does it mean he or others will do the same tomorrow?

Who knows?

The answer, of course, is nobody.

Despite all the pontification, prognostication, posturing and polemics, the marketing measurement industry has yet to offer anything of substance when it comes to connecting our off- and on-line activities with actual consumer behavior.

Does that mean we should not be measuring the effectiveness of our marketing efforts? Absolutely not.

But if I were managing a brand, I wouldn't accept any measurement as gospel if those presenting it aren't able show a direct causation between their research results and sales.

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