Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Data, green beans and me.

Yesterday I wrote a short piece about our industry's latest sham--big data or as it is so often written, Big Data.

I warned, and will continue to warn, about those marketing mumbo-jumbo-ists who will proclaim to the unquestioning trade-press, that data will solve everything, that the secret behind successful marketing campaigns will be the deciphering of Runic 1s and 0s to reveal the truth.

(No one ever says what will happen when everyone is using data--and you've lost your data advantage.)

My skepticism about big data comes primarily from having heard about it for a few years now and having never seen it in action. I've yet to receive either first or second hand an example of a data-driven ad that's persuaded me in an adroit and able manner.

The marketing I receive--in my email or in my Linked In or through Facebook is as dumb as I've always gotten. I can think of no ostensible reason behind why I get the ads I get, and certainly no big data reason.

I'm not being bull-headed or intractable here. If you can explain it to me, please call me on amy work phone. I'd love to learn.

Relating to big data, I came upon this quotation yesterday from one of the online ad trades:

“Data shows us things that other agencies can’t see—consumers, buying patterns, unique insights—and we’re able to bring clients like [client name] big creative ideas to capitalize on our unique perspective.”

If someone could explain that to me, I'll buy you a beer or a cuppa, because I simply don't understand.

1. What is a unique insight?
2. Show me your big creative idea that capitalizes on your unique perspective.

Again, I'm not trying to be difficult. I just don't understand.

I fear, however, that this little bit below is what's being called a "unique insight" and a "big creative idea."

"The brand also created data-driven stories for mass media coverage by partnering with PR Hacker, an agency that specializes in story-based data-driven content. For this part of the campaign, [client] asked 1,500 Americans to "go green bean" and rate their thoughts for the classic green-bean casserole side dish. The result: The first annual [client] Green Bean Index, a ranking of the top 25 U.S. states with the highest concentration of green-bean casserole lovers for the holidays." 

I think, frankly, what we're seeing is "data-washing." The same old marketing drivel heralded in new ways because it is allegedly informed by data.

Until I see ten cases of legitimate business success that can be attributed to data, I'm not buying it.

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