Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: A Lot of Buzz about Nothing

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: A Lot of Buzz about Nothing

Article excerpt

Beware the claims made by digital monitoring services about the accuracy of the data they provide.

Whether it's religion, politics or business, there are always those who seek the easy answer. And, as markets tend to satisfy demand with supply, there is always a long queue of salespeople claiming to be able to deliver it.

If you want a serious qualification in business, you might consider an MBA. Go to a good college, lay out tens of thousands of pounds and spend a year or two up all night bashing a laptop to earn your degree. Or you could skip all that and pick up Colin Barrow's book, The 30 Day MBA for 15 quid.

And that's for the dedicated. Other books offer the same in 10 days, 90, 80 or five minutes, and, for the truly impatient, Nicholas Bate offers his book Instant MBA; which, if you think about it, is less time than it takes to read the cover.

Digital's full of easy answers, and nowhere more so than in the provision of software tools. One monitoring system claimed to track advertisers' online expenditure. When it was first released, my agency ran its reporting on our clients, finding results varied from the reality by between -80% and +250%. If it had been out consistently by 40% it might have been useful; as it was, I found it more accurate to phone my mum when I needed to find out what people spent. At least I knew she was guessing.

However, the down-to-the-last-pound reporting of such systems appears to give them great credibility. Time and again I'd see these figures quoted as fact, rather than guidance, by busy people who didn't have time to look in the kitchen to see what really went into their food.

The current vogue is for social media 'buzz monitoring' tools, and a report released in July by Interaction London, a social-media-monitoring company, gives the lie to the exaggerated claims of definitiveness advanced by the salesmen.

They tested the 10 leading systems in the UK, looking at how they report buzz around the term 'Kia Sportage'. On average, 2891 posts were reported over the research period; but variance around this was from +91% to -99%, with no agreement between any of the tools.

So while some of these systems might be useful as tracking studies, at least nine of them can't be used to draw quantitative conclusions on which marketing expenditure might be reliably based.

Digging deeper into the figures, share of voice in blogs was reported as between 14% and 66%. It appears the tools use different technical collection techniques, and often classify things differently; a video embedded within a blog could be 'online video' or 'blog'. …

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