Data: When More is More


Why Data Triangulation Makes Sense in Today’s Sophisticated Environment

Ahhh Data…“It’s the cause and solution to all of life’s problems”. (H.J. Simpson – philosopher, comedian). I don’t believe this quote was referring directly to data, but the premise still works.

If you have spent any time at CES this week, then you know we are living in the “Golden Age of Data.” It’s comes at you seemingly from every angle and source. Managing, decoding and analyzing it has become a significant investment (in time and money) for most companies, whether a Fortune 500 or a Series A start-up.

When it comes to how we utilize data for marketing, we have come a long way. It’s exciting to think that we are moving beyond last click attribution and towards a place that a company will be able to understand a consumer’s journey from the first ad they are exposed, to the purchase of their product.  Who they are, what channels are most impactful and how to replicate this in a sustainable way. It really is the “Holy Grail” of marketing/advertising, something that seems within our grasp.

Why Now?

The Blockbuster buster, Netflix came on the scene and changed more than the distribution of video content, it forced an entire industry to become more sophisticated in the tracking and attribution of linear and non-linear video. ACR technology (Automatic Content Recognition) is one of those solutions, that came about to fill a need. An offering that gives brands the opportunity to understand viewership and response through a Smart-TV’s chipset and device map. Tracking not only linear TV (cable/broadcast), but also OTT and other devices at the screen level.

Suddenly, everything feels like it can be tracked (with an electronic signature). The market has been flooded with new data providers, aggregators and AI solutions ready to help businesses understand how to manage, interpret and use all this data to make meaningful decisions that impact their bottom-line.

Why Not Now?

How you connect all this data into one customers journey, (let alone thousands of times) to make decisions from, becomes a bit more challenging, due to…

Walled Gardens… Ugh… Until Facebook and Google play nice, the story will always be incomplete at best. Considering the size of these two giants, not only in footprint but size of spend as well, we will always be using 10-40 vision to assess performance of these channels and how they affect others. We are stuck with workarounds that hardly feel like we are approaching the “holy grail.”

What about ACR, that is at least giving us a better view into TV/Video, right? Well, kind of. We are getting a view we have never had, and the information possibility is enormous, but it is still in its infancy. Scale is currently limited and none of the pioneers in ACR use Samsung data, which has the largest share of smart TVs in the U.S. Not to mention, managing the mechanics of the data is no easy task, as we have observed many instances (with these providers) where the control is outperforming the exposed. Unless your messaging is inhibiting people from responding, this is a problem. A tremendous opportunity, but still far away from being a one source of truth.

What About Now? Data Triangulation

There is enormous pressure put on CMOs and marketing departments across the globe to come up with that one “Source of Truth.” The one solution that will act as a guide to transform their business. It makes sense, given what data is seemingly available…

This puts most businesses in one of two buckets:

  1. It’s the best tool I can buy/create, so I use it to make key marketing decisions
  2. I will look for multiple sources that point me in the same direction

#1 will provide you an answer (and the easiest path), but it may not be correct or at least a complete picture. #2 is where a form of Data Triangulation comes in. It is what it sounds like, the validation of data through verification from multiple sources. It is taken from techniques used in land surveying to determine the “convergence of measurements” from different points of view.

…overall, it provides businesses with more confidence and validity in their results.

Both have their merits, but I believe the second puts you in a position to bring more thought leaders to the table and fosters a better/deeper discussion about the opportunity decisions to be made.

Understanding the multitude of signals, direct and self-reported, from all channels and how they impact sales, conversions, traffic, awareness, etc… is critical to the evaluation process. This often brings deeper insights and uncovers new opportunities that would not have been discovered without the additional lens and due diligence.

To do that, it is so important to work with your clients, agency or consultants to put them in the position to provide another lens, their POV or another source of truth.   This requires more than just “The Ask”, it requires time and a commitment to get them access to the data and people needed to help inform models that provide insights to drive business decisioning.

Given the rapid growth in technology, the “Holy Grail” may be closer than we think. Until we reach that point, the best option is to bring all the stakeholders to the table and consider multiple methods (and empirical data sources). This should in turn overcome any fundamental biases and bring the team to a singular solution that helps drive a business towards success.

If it’s not the “Holy Grail”, it is at least a step in the right direction.

Clintton Fleschere
Senior Vice President, Client Services