What’s Measurement without Data Integrity?

04 Sep

laptop dataWe talk a lot about marketers improving both their approaches to measurement as well as the measurement tools they use. But one important point that is often overlooked by marketers is whether or not their data is any good. The old adage, “Garbage in, garbage out,” precisely illustrates what happens when marketers don’t think enough about whether their data is any good, and what happens when they make decisions based on data that’s a little less than trustworthy.

Apparently, researchers and scientists at Lucid, a global data research firm, have been thinking about this problem a lot. And as a result, they recently introduced a new data measurement model that they believe will “change how marketers think about and rate the quality of data.” This model looks at “attribute density,” which is a fancy term for market segments and their sizes, with the goal of identifying exactly who a campaign reaches and the impact on ROI.

More specifically, the model looks at “insight, intent and opinion data collected from people who have opted in and got paid to share their opinion.” This struck us as more than a little odd; if your goal is to get clean data on market segments, paying them for their opinions could potentially make the data less reliable. Why?

In our opinion, this appears to be an observer’s paradox, a concept from social sciences where what is observed is influenced by the observer. That is to say that if subjects are providing data on an opt-in and payment basis, their behaviors that are being observed may be different because they know they’re being observed. In other words, the data participants provide may not actually be of the high-quality the researchers claim it to have.

Of course, this is the challenge of contemporary data analytics. Consumers are more aware than ever how their online activities are being collected and analyzed. And the more conscious they are of this, the more they are likely to change their behavior. For example, in a survey of U.S. consumers conducted earlier this year, nearly 57% of participants said they were concerned about data privacy, while 68% said they want better control over their data.

Given the growing concerns over consumer data privacy, marketers are definitely facing greater challenges in ensuring that the data they (and their advertising partners) collect in order to target and measure campaigns.

But the bottom line stands: If you don’t get good data, you can’t really be confident in what you’re measuring, and any decisions you make about your marketing spend will likely be flawed.

So, how do we know if our data is any good? Part of that comes from experience—experience in the outlets we work with and experience in understanding what quality data looks like. The other part is thoroughness—getting data from multiple sources and ensuring that the data received has been fully vetted.

Here at Capital Media, we make it a top priority to get the best quality data in order to make the most informed recommendations for our clients. If you’d like to learn more about how we work, and what we can do for you, contact us.

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