Making sense of data is really hard, and making sense of data from multiple sources which report in different ways is damn near impossible. Once again, we in the world of marketing are our own worst enemies, I guess. We could learn from our friends in finance.
Pick up any financial report and you’ll see the same statistics, generally reported in the same manner. That manner is GAAP – Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. While CFO’s and analysts have a little leeway within those principles, usually when you look at a piece of data for one company, something labeled the same way for another company means the same thing.
Not so in marketing. I mean, we do try. CPM has always been a measure of efficiency in media. The problem is that there are lots of ways to get to that number, especially in digital. Number of banners displayed? Number of viewable banners displayed? Should it just default to the impressions for which I’m being billed or do I want to factor in things such as actions taken (clicks, etc.)?
I think we need something like a Cost Per Touch metric. This would something standardized and would factor in the number of touch points across all media. An engagement on social media is counted just as is a video watched (you can decide the relative values of each). Actually, I don’t care what we call it but we need something akin to GAAP in the world of marketing data – something that can align web analytics, SEM numbers, social touch points, customer service, etc. Something that can help us to make sense of all of those disparate sources of big data. Once we’ve standardized all of these things, all the other activities which depend on them become more efficient and productive. Of course, it also means that there isn’t anyplace to hide since we can’t manipulate the numbers past a certain point.