Measurement Menace of the Year 2016


There are almost as many strong candidates for our Measurement Menace of the Year Award as there were weak presidential candidates in our recent election. But the race for the prize was not as close…

One serious contender is the collective group of social platforms—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn—that have been spewing forth an array of inconsistent, implausible, and confusing metrics. These are duly captured by the next level of the menace food chain, the listening and analytics platforms. These in turn disgorge them onto client’s dashboards, leaving everyone in a state of confusion.

Please stop it, all of you. We don’t need more metrics, we need more insight. Your inconsistent metrics are making everyone’s jobs harder.

Facebook is also the top contender in the First Runner-Up category. Along with Google and all the other technology companies-turned-publishers that dished out an unending supply of fake news. Sure, you can argue that the real menaces are the people generating the stuff in the first place. But they wouldn’t be doing it if the advertisers and tech companies weren’t rewarding them for their efforts.

When we studied the phenomenon a few years back, we found that about 40% of all posts were what we considered “fake”—either generated by a non-human robot, a fake account, or an organization with a specific agenda.

Today the problem is 1000 times worse, as are the consequences. The BS overload is rapidly destroying the credibility of all media. Even the ones we used to trust, because so many of them have picked up and republished the fake stuff.

I suppose the good news for us measurement types is that the publicity that fake news has enjoyed as result of the election has alerted everyone to the problem. Now maybe when we warn people of the outrageously high level of junk in their content feeds they’ll believe us and narrow their filters to focus only on what really influences their stakeholders.

But with out a doubt, the absolute winner of the Menace of the Year is…

the person at mediaQuant who wrote the press release that valued Trump’s earned media as $2 million. Defining media “success” in terms of the advertising value equivalent provided credibility to that rejected metric (not to mention the politician), and perpetuated the myth that AVEs are worth the equivalent of advertising.

The ultimate slap-down was the statistical evidence later in the race that there was a negative correlation between media attention and standing in the polls. If we could only show a similar negative correlation for brands and market share then we’d be done with AVE forever. Unfortunately, the lack of a positive correlation hasn’t stopped anyone from using them yet. ∞



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