Are Insights Cheap Commodities?

by , Jan 15, 2013, 10:11 AM
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An insightful friend described a growing challenge with insights in the marketing services industry. He suggested I probe the issue, so here goes...

True marketing insights have always been valued at a premium. With an explosion of raw marketing data (noise) and growing competitive pressures, the value of insights has rightly increased.

The challenge now is that everyone claims they deliver insights: ad agencies; publishers; research companies; and seemingly every ad-tech company in Terry Kawaja’s LUMAscapes.

In many cases, these various players really do deliver valuable insights. Regardless, the barrier to make the claim is low. When many people claim something that was once special, the perceived specialness decreases.

In fact, what people call insights often really aren’t. In many cases they are interesting, shallow observations or loosely understood correlations -- arguably, cheap commodities, not really insights. The term insight has moved closer to cliche, with expectations lowering, and impact diluting.

That’s why if your company is in the “insights business,” you may be having an increasingly hard time differentiating or positioning your delivery as premium.

So what should you do? True insights are no less valuable. If your company really does deliver deep understanding of marketing problems and methods to solve them, then you must boldly describe that in a unique and specific way.  

You may be better off describing yourself as being in the “epiphanies business,” the “ahas business” or the “answers business.”

3 comments on "Are Insights Cheap Commodities?".

  1. Rick Monihan from None
    commented on: January 15, 2013 at 11:58 a.m.
    On the surface, this article seems like common sense. Yet we know that common sense is not so common. Often things which are merely interesting are not necessarily insightful or valuable. Trying to discern this differentiation is not always easy, but being able to do it effectively will help cut down the noise. A truly useful insight is one which very few people or companies have, but when they do, it should provide an "Aha" moment. All too often we mistake correlation with causation. A good insight will not make this error, and will be capable of being backed up by implementation of a scheme to take advantage. Great theme for the new year.
  2. Jeff Domansky from Peak Communications Inc
    commented on: January 15, 2013 at 1:29 p.m.
    Max, really thoughtful post. This is exactly why curation is becoming such a valuable skill and service inside and outside organizations. As Clay Shirkey says "It's Not Information Overload. It's filter failure."
  3. Kathy Sharpe from None
    commented on: January 15, 2013 at 2:48 p.m.
    Max, great dissecting the promised product of all this Big Data: insights. They need to be relevant and actionable; inspire a creative, re-direct a media plan, stop/start product development, re-allocate or validate a budget et.al The companies that produce those insights may just have something.

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