Commentary

It Takes More Than Just Data

The spring season of industry conferences, upfronts and Newfronts is starting to become a distant memory as we run headlong into summer.  This year, many of the issues and themes that recur every year were back again.  But this year, perhaps more than ever, there’s a sense that real change is upon us.  Measurement, metrics and data have never been more important — nor more in the spotlight.  

Screens are proliferating, and the consumer appetite for video and other content and media experiences seems insatiable.  Concurrent with digital video content growing audiences and acclaim, TV content usage, in aggregate, is not declining.   Digital media are continually changing how we shop, socialize, how we educate our children, and how we learn about major events that change the world at large.

Consumer activities create massive amounts of data.  All these behaviors can be tracked and fed into tech stacks and spit out in a moment’s notice.  

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Still, the question remains: Who decides which data matters, and how do we do so?  And, then, even if it matters, how does one distinguish good data from lesser data?  Is an insight an insight without proper oversight?  How good is good enough?

These questions and their answers are important to the way businesses move forward. They speak to decisions about where to invest resources for technology and talent, and what skill sets are necessary for growth.  For consumer-facing businesses, the quality of data, and how it is processed and interpreted, are vital to decision-making about marketing and selling products and services.  

We are almost obsessed with data in and of itself, nearly to the point of ignoring the importance of transparency and quality.  It is vital that appropriately stringent methods and the right people vet the quality of data.  As more digital inventory traverses the platforms and as TV goes digital, there is industry conversation about the transformative nature of data and programmatic selling and buying advertising.

At the same time, fundamental metrics that quantify consumer media usage are still being standardized.  Cross-platform measurement using high quality methodology and the right standard metrics are still in development and has been for a long time.   The good news is that there is progress on this front.

Each of the pieces of the data and the cross-platform measurement puzzles seem at times to be far greater than the whole, thus diminishing the power of each and of both. Neither in and of itself can take the industry where it needs to go.  Yet, there is still an expectation that data can be layered upon audience measurement metrics without the necessary transparency and quality vetting.

Some may say it’s self-evident that good tools, as defined by businesses, are the ones we should use.  Some may also say that granularity and automation are good in and of themselves.  Still others will say that until we can accurately count consumer usage of content and ads across screens, we cannot alter longstanding models of how advertising works.  I say that until we understand that each of these elements is vital in transforming the media business landscape from a truly integrated perspective, the parts will continue to be greater than the whole.

1 comment about "It Takes More Than Just Data".
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  1. Ned Newhouse from Conde Nast , July 8, 2015 at 4:50 p.m.

    I say its high time marketers look themselves in the mirror and create quality content and inspiration in their advertising messages that they themselves would click on.  If data is so important then no great measurability and results will come from today's 90% inert ads. Everyone in the ecosytem needs to the right tools to succeed, and after 20 years of digital, ads still suck. No one would run a 15 static ad with no sound on TV and expect results.

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