Marketing Data is Bullshit

Chris Thurber · November 20, 2020

Modern marketing revolves around data. Modern data. Big data. Small data. All the data. Statistics and analytics words get thrown around the industry all the time. Endless pieces on the internet talking about how to intrepret this, how to intrepret that, etc. There is a problem to all of this though. The industry is all bullshit.

There are click rates, impressions, conversion rates, open rates, ROAS, pageviews, bounces rates, ROI, CPM, CPC, impression share, average position, sessions, channels, landing pages, KPI after never ending KPI.

So many acroynms that get thrown around, but here is the problem. No one knows how any of this works. There’s no understanding on how this data is collected, how these terms are intrepeted or even how they do not even work.

Adblocking in the US is around 25% of all connected devices, that meaning 25% of ads targeted will not reach their inteded recipient. How can you trust the data coming from your tracking when it doesn’t normalize for this fact? The data is lying to you at face value.

Black boxes like Facebook and Google Ads are problamatically wrong if no one understands what the thing is doing. You’re trusting someone who you pay not to lie to you about the results. That is fundamentally a problem when the same company who sells you the ads also misleads you about the results. Results that you cannot audit for a baseline truth because they obscure and hide the raw data from the almighty algorithms powering the ad printing machines.

MediaPost reports the 2016 news report stated that Facebook inflated average viewing time by 60 percent to 80 percent. The plaintiffs, including LLE One (doing business as Crowd Siren and Social Media Models) then amended the suit to claim inflation of metrics by 150 percent to 900 percent.

That is a huge problem by Facebook. How can you trust any analytics knowing how Facebook doesn’t seem to know what their ad machine is even doing or how to quantify it for you later? They’ll gladly take your money though.

This brings us to Google, who monopolized this ad tech space. The problem is… what are you buying from Google? Does anyone really know? You put money in and get “results”, but those results are not auditable either. You get “visitors” but who is telling you about those visitors? Google. You get increased conversion rates, bounces, channels, etc but who tells you about those? Google. They own the whole stack. Honestly, they created this weird black box that people just agree exists, but does it? It might. It might not. That’s the fundamental problem, we can’t agree either way. The tech giants won’t let us in or tell us what is going on, but they sure are willing to take everyone’s money for possible results.

A bonus, email open rates do not even indicate that an email was opened or read at all, just that a request is sent to a server. Unbelievable how many decisions at my old employer were made by the marketing team without any knowledge on these facts.

And that’s really the problem here, the people making the decisions in this space aren’t educated on the issues. They can plug in numbers and read back the results, but they don’t realize all the nuances in statistics and analytics to create verifiable insights. They trust the people selling the ads and placements to also do the insights after the fact. You wouldn’t trust a sleazy saleman to give you real world usage of a product, so why would you trust the tech giants to give you real world insights on ads they sell you?

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