The Internet is great. If you like data, the Internet is perfect for you. You can easily get overwhelmed by stats, not understanding the metrics that really matter. All this data is worthless unless you count the numbers that really make a difference.
The Internet is enormous – you can achieve scale rather quickly and fairly easy. As easy as you might make the mistake to chase volume over meaning. If you want to attract a quality audience should you try to use every SEO trick in the book or facilitate an engaged community? If you want to make money with your site, should you deploy many slide shows and photo galleries with low value or engage through high value content?
People love to do stuff on the Internet. The best metrics are often those that relate to people doing what the Internet is best at – interacting. Unfortunately, humans are extremely complex, so the way in which we measure it can be over-simplified. Just look at click-through rates. The average is now 0.1% or lower. You could say that out of 1,000 impressions served, at least 1 person was clicking. Buy gazillions of impressions and you can get thousands of people to click. Or, you could say that 0.1% means, 99.9% of people didn’t care about ad and your work is an utter failure.
Some say banner ads don’t work at all. Or they are not working hard enough. Putting them in the right context makes sense, making them bigger and more intrusive definitely not. They should be more useful and relevant. When I see an ad that tells me the Hollywood Bowl will start individual ticket sales tomorrow at 10am, that would be useful. Good targeting works fairly well. Still, we are in danger of attributing everything to the last click, and very little to any other form of effect, or to any brand-influence or other communications the customer may have been exposed to. We tried solve that attribution challenge, the pace is too slow for my taste. Too many digital campaigns are measured on soft and unimportant metrics. It is not all about the click, and the last click is certainly not everything.
So, next time you report on campaign numbers, don’t go for the shiny number. Data tells a complex story. My guess is, you’re stopping at page three. Dig deeper.