Three Dimensions Of Metrics For The 21st Century

Last week I said that I was going to tie three uber-learnings that I took away from TED 2009 -- creativity, story-telling and looking beyond -- to three challenges that we all face as an industry today: metrics, engagement and interactivity. Let's begin with metrics.

On metrics and creativity. The characteristics and qualities of metrics are generally perceived as quantitative in nature, whereas the characteristics and qualities of creativity are perceived as qualitative. Get over it. Metrics have a history and are, at their essence, the derivates of subjective actions. A mouthful, yes, but follow me for a moment. Nielsen ratings are metrics (a quantitative measure) that are based on the viewers' likes or dislikes of a program (a qualitative action). If we could find a way to enhance the qualitative characteristics of quantative measurements, the learnings would be far closer to a 360-degree view. Interesting hypothesis, no?

On metrics and storytelling. Tim Berners-Lee (yes, the fellow who really invented the Internet) gave a presentation about Linked Data. Now, I won't give it all away -- but at its essence, Linked Data is a way to connect all data together, to allow data (or metrics in our case) to reflect its history and its relationships to other data. This idea of Linked Data is a powerful yet truly underdeveloped idea I would encourage each and every one of us to consider. The value of it lies not only in its efficiency and efficacy as a standardized framework -- but also in the story revealed to us through analysis of connections among the data. Get it?

On metrics and looking beyond. As I said last week, get out of your cube, your office, your ecosystem and find solutions to problems where you have never looked before. Metrics are used in diverse and creative ways in other industries. In the sciences, for example, response times, intensity and severity, replicability -- all these are metrics that are used to gauge success or failure. Maybe we should be thinking about how to measure the intensity of the recall, the response time of a call to action, or even the apathy of engagement to determine the value of a campaign. And before you discount this, stop and think. Maybe, just maybe, it's not that far-fetched.

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1 comment about "Three Dimensions Of Metrics For The 21st Century".
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  1. Donald Sloan from GBG Motionmedia , February 14, 2009 at 2:55 p.m.

    Creating more specificity of presumption relative to respondent subjectivity only stabilizes the structure between polling and campaign assessment. Without determining the various lifestyle associations the studied few filter their responses through; without clearer determination of their subjectivity and the obstacles their responses encounter, there can be no value to further assumptions based on their aggregated feedback.

    The strongest foundation can not be stabilized upon a plot of quicksand. Quantitative metrics are only as good as the qualitative view taken to translate their meaning. Consumers provide no common definitions of good, bad or indifference without more in-depth interaction with them, not their presumptive diarist counterparts. Actual buyers tell the tale worth listening to.

    The ultimate proof of campaign efficacy is found in the objective changes in consumer awareness, brand identity, and the vagaries of sales. Post-sales polling, not presumptive assessment of messaging value, is where the truth lies.

    And passive polling is always superior to active (forced) self-responses. Respondent personality obscures the potential to aggregate response, yet that's precisely what some pollsters still successfully sell.

    Linked data will make sense once the instigating information is stripped of its initiating subjectivity.

    The current economic situation offers a valuable window of opportunity to implement a sociological study of modern marketing motivators, starting at the top of the heap with automobile sales. They can afford to build-in such research expense and have a major current reason to do so. Resulting data could have a secondary value in dispensation to the wider consumer marketing industry (to recoup some cost).

    Change implies seeing and doing things differently, whether or not one is still in their cube. Rather than elongate measurement of effect, we could further study initial cause as the producer of effect. Messaging based upon cause puts subsequent response back into the realm of trackable reality.

    Essentially, without new eyes aimed at altering methodology, divining raw data will remain the domain of sorcerers and soothsayers.

    Data purity is key to growing the future of marketing success. Metrics are a tool, not the artisan that employs it/them. They can chart scientific processes, not the successful assimilation of messaging art.