Tobaccowala: Avoid 'Data Diarrhea'

Rashid Tobaccowala Warning of the perils of "data diarrhea" and "data distraction," Denuo CEO Rashid Tobacccowala implored audience members at the OMMA Metrics and Measurement conference Tuesday to focus on a handful of chosen metrics and to tie data to business decisions.

"Why should we have a dashboard like a jet plane?" asked Tobaccowala in an freewheeling afternoon keynote talk titled "Measuring Madison Avenue." A more appropriate analogy for tracking interactive campaigns should be a car dashboard, with a fuel gauge, speedometer and a button "to tell you when something's gone wrong."

Likewise, the key is to determine what the key three or four metrics for a given campaign are to avoid information overload. "Otherwise you're confusing people with an array of data which even makes people like me scared," said Tobaccowala, who serves on the board of Publicis Groupe's ViVaKi digital unit in addition to leading its Denuo new media consultancy.

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The digital media guru even waxed poetic, paraphrasing Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner": "Data, data, everywhere/I think I could sink/Data, Data, everywhere/Will someone please help me think."

Tobaccowala also stressed the importance of connecting data to real world decision-making. "Data is useless unless it becomes currency for making a decision," he said. To make sure online measurement is on track, he advised advertisers and analytics professionals to be sure they are asking the right questions, have the right expertise and the right mindset.

That approach includes figuring out not what you're ROI is, but what is your "ROO"-return on objective. "Once you have an objective, then you can figure out what the right combination of objectives are," said the Denuo CEO.

It also requires looking ahead to where interactive technology and online consumer behavior are going and remaining flexible to be able to change ad efforts on the fly. "Let's start thinking about what the next thing is to get ahead in the decision-making process," he said.

Exhorting conferencegoers to undertake their own metrics "manifestos," Tobaccowala outlined several areas that are ripe for marketing and measurement inroads including Web video, word-of-mouth, and mobile commerce.

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