Results 1 to 19 of 19
  1. #1
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Winter Park, FL
    Posts
    6,930
    Interpreting data, a Growing problem in our industry
    I continue to see mistakes made by people in all aspects of online marketing, affiliates, merchants, networks, engines, reporters and more.

    One main reason why adware has continued almost unabated is that merchants look at sales reports and don't question the underlying picture or even attempt to know what it all means, but are instead, very quick to draw conclusions about just the numbers they see. The numbers, because they're appear to be a mathematical and statistical representation of the what's happening, almost automatically take on a cement-like quality, permanent and foundational. Often, the cement is meritless and meaningless, or at least contradictory or misleading.

    Affiliates often make decisions on datasets that are too small or they miss a bigger picture of something happening in favor of micro analysis of a number set.

    A macroscopic view needs to be added to the microscopic, and that microscopic view needs to often discount conclusions drawn (by explaining their basis) from the microscopic data alone.

    I'm dislike behavioral marketing (I refer to it as "BM", as in bowel movement) for the same reason - it's ineffective when taken to its extreme, which is often the case. I suppose its human nature to quickly draw conclusions, we're all pinched for time - but in business, one needs to develop a sense of that and to beware of it, because often things are not as they seem (when viewed too close up or myopically in other ways).

    If marketers everywhere had unlimited, detailed data they believe they could market their products better to me - I disagree with that assertion. My past is not an ideal predictor of my future and it discounts completely anything new or different I might try, and I do new and different things often. Plus greed and self-pride (and a little immaturity) drives marketers to think that everyone should buy what they're pimping, so they will try to see in the minutiae of detailed data, a myriad of reasons to claim there's a match. A better marketer understands their self-involved bias and can see their hopes trying to become wrapped into their conclusions beforehand.

    Some data, viewed roughly, can help target - new homeowners for instance, buy more appliances, than existing homeowners, and more so than folks who don't own a home. But go much beyond that and the assumptions become non-scalable. Chasing new homeowners for instance has a very, very short lifespan - someone buying a new home is going to get a fridge in very short order if they don't already have one - so perhaps the most important aspect of this marketing data, and its inspection, would be it's age... tell a marketer that you have a list of new homeowners for sale and most won't even ask how "new" they are... then they run off and try to target and draw conclusions beforehand and afterwards.

    To reach max efficiency in marketing, you need skepticism in conclusions and the nature and analysis of data, as well as its collection and statistical significance.

    If it gets the usual knee-jerk less-than-intellectual focus-on-conclusions numbers-collected-are-automatically-merited-cement approach, you'll get conclusionary output like this:
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/6488...e-demographics

    Compare your own search and buying habits, or those of people you know, to the categories this research is slopping about... it'll dry soon and set up. Marketing folks will be gleaning specturdularly fabulous insights then declaring all sorts of asinine positions about what "we all know" is true about these things that were under study.

    When you hear somebody call Yahoo the poor man's search engine, realize these are the same types of baseless, mangled, misguided conclusions that many will be drawing about you and your habits.

    As more and more data is collected, this problem gets bigger - so it's growing. But that's not what I meant with my title "Interpreting data, a Growing problem in our industry"... part of growing up is developing a wider sense of cause and effect... and of seeing the natural and logical limits of predicting behavior... so the next time you see people reading excessive meaning into data in an obviously flawed manner, know that they've got some growing up to do.

    And in your own studies and efforts, take a more mature stance and consider your own testing to be much more valuable than anyone's predicting.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    West Coast USA
    Posts
    3,043
    Donuts thinks like a business person.

    NICE POST

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador sjangro's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    1,529
    Good post Donuts.

    Though I thought you were going somewhere else with this such as...

    ... realizing the network EPC data is just a big giant average.

    ...that even when testing yourself, thousands of clicks are required to draw any statistical conclusion on traffic data.

    ...that networks and merchants have access to all the clickstream information they need to understand the real impact of affiliates stepping on other affiliates. e.g. BHO/plugin affiliates stepping on other affiliates clicks and cookies, PPC clicks, and direct type-ns. Or coupon affiliates getting last minute credit thanks to a tempting coupon code field in the checkout process.
    Last edited by loxly; February 19th, 2008 at 02:43 PM. Reason: fixed typo for scott.

  4. #4
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
    Join Date
    October 9th, 2007
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    1,705
    Posts like this make me intimidated to meet Donuts in person someday. I'm afraid "Let's have a beer." will turn into "Let us partake in a fermented alcoholic beverage with malt and hops origins."

    You know definitely know your stuff, Donuts. My brain is a server but yours is a data center.

    Newbies---pay attention. The great Donuts has spoken.

    re: the topic at hand:

    Yes, the interpreting of the data is a problem, as people use that data to build things with. Those things (websites, keyword campaigns, etc.) can then be utilized in an ineffective manner based on the incorrect translation of the original data. Not to mention, even the original data may be corrupt due to inaccuracies such as sample size, sampling method, or reporting. It can turn into a great statistical mess.

    Let's say that I gather numbers from Wikipedia *I don't recommend this* on metro zoos in the USA and their locations. I plan on using this for a campaign featuring a new Zoo board game for kids. I gather demographics info on the zoo cities and sort it by the percentage of households with kids 12 years old or younger. I then begin my keyword campaign in the 10 highest populated cities w/ a metro zoo and highest percentage of families w/ kids 12 or younger. After my campaign runs a few weeks, I begin to wonder about it's inability to drive sales. Why is there a problem? Possibly the data gathered from a publicly edited source is incorrect. Or there is a chance that I am not making sales due to not funneling enough. Maybe the solution is to target families in the most populated zoo MSAs with the highest per capita income.

    Data is our friend if we use it correctly. If we use it incorrectly, it has a chance to mess up our own projects and subsequent projects after ours. So, I think the item of concern is data accountability. How many projects are flawed because of a half-hazard way of data collection, interpretation, and distribution?

    -sfcom


  5. #5
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
    Join Date
    November 20th, 2005
    Posts
    8,266
    If I were to re-write your narrative with a few different nouns and adjectives, it would equally well apply to my former "career" in the world of public education. It is such a shame that many people who "call the shots" cannot look beyond their spreadsheet view of the world.

    Those pundits with a myopic outlook no longer realize that we are individuals (much as children are individuals with wide-ranging learning styles based upon myriad criteria), and that we are also dynamic. What has happened in the past is "already" changing. Some people may never change habits, but those that make a difference usually do.

    Absolutely a great post, Donuts. Bravo.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    2,587
    Another great analytical post, Donuts! Though, I had a hard time finishing the last part after "specturdularly" because I was laughing so hard.

    Interpreting data and predicting buying behavior will always have limits and I'm frequently reminded of that every time I go to Amazon and see what they recommend for me or whenever my credit card is flagged for one of my own purchases. While past purchases or browsing may be an indicator of future purchasing behavior, as Donuts stated you have to look at the bigger picture and "cause and effect" for those purchases.

    Obviously, some companies/people are better at interpreting data and predicting behavior than others. My guess is that Donuts is one of 'em!

    Now, help me out if I'm missing the mark a little on this, but the main points I get out of this is 1) don't be so myopic about the data that you miss the bigger picture and 2) while looking at the big picture is good, be open-minded and flexible about interpreting the results (i.e. don't be quick to draw conclusions, take finer detail into account, look for cause and effect, etc).

    I will be digesting the info from this thread for a while. Thanks for the brain food, Donuts.
    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
    - Silence is golden. Duct Tape is silver.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
    Join Date
    September 25th, 2005
    Location
    The Pale Blue Dot
    Posts
    841
    Blame it all on global warming. If that fails try El Nino. But rest assured that tracking will not be affected.
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

  8. #8
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Posts
    5,904
    Well said Donuts. I'm guilty of bandying about statistics on occassion that are probably miscontrued before me, and then further misconstrued after me.

    School of experience is indeed the best form of market research. Yes, certain trends can be applied across verticals, but not all.

    As an example, we had a very stong 4th quarter, and ARE having a very strong 1st quarter despite the talks of recession and people putting their wallets away. We have had folks in our vertical and outside our vertical tell us that they had horrid 4th quarters, and are suffering this quarter as well.

    So had we taken the predictions of a down turn, staffed accordingly, and prepared for the worst, what would have happened?

    It would have been a scenario where we would have created a HORRID customer experience. Late shipments, poorly packed shipments, voice mail hell, etc.

    So I'm behind you 100% on this topic.

    I know your assertion relates to misunderstanding the success or failure of an affiliate program, but it applies in all avenues of conducting successful, smartly run business.

    And lastly, I have had a couple of beers with Donuts. I learned much. And it wasn;t intimidating at all.

    Well, maybe a little.
    Kevin Webster
    twitter: levelanalytics

    Kayak Fishing
    Web Analytics and Affiliate Marketing

  9. #9
    Moderator
    Join Date
    April 6th, 2006
    Posts
    2,689
    Very well put.. I admit I had to read it a few times tho..

    On a personal note, my site was built on a niche demographic/buying segment that statistically-speaking, represented a very low percentage of online shoppers. I believed I knew what that group needed to shop online (I'm one of them!), and have now started to see *real* success.

    Sometimes your instinct (and own behavior) defy the numbers, and that's where you can find some real opportunities ..

  10. #10
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Winter Park, FL
    Posts
    6,930
    Yep, you all got my message right.

    And you Jangro, made me laugh at myself with your insight, thanks for that.

    As affiliates, if we focus on providing value and fulfilling needs, we can mess up in a lot of other areas and still look very smart. Providing compelling help to consumers, and the merchants we partner with, will...
    +get you backlinks curing a lot of your seo ills
    +raise your conversion rates and erase / mitigate the impact of your data collection and interpretation errors
    +make you insurmountably stronger against parasitic entities like leaks and adware
    +allow you to diversify into new areas that aren't necessarily niches where you're not a dumbass (at the start).
    +and more opportunity opening leverages...

    Blind yourself by viewing everything through a microscope and the universe of opportunities races past like a blur.

    So leave the overly excessive slicing and dicing to others and raise the aim of your focus towards something a tad larger and more important. An affiliate's job does not start with keyword research or a spreadsheet, it begins with solving a problem or filling a need, usually in the shopping arena.

    If I slice a cucumber finely enough, it looks remarkably like a honeydew. If all you ever look at is the resultant plate of sliced mush, you'll miss a lot, and you won't even know it.

    When you draw a conclusion, try to put a "why" to it, then test that theory before you consider it anything more than just a theory.

    And rely on your site's underlying larger goal / purpose to move you ahead more than your theories (your unproven guesses) about one particular aspect of its performance.

    See you all in Vegas! And I look forward to hearing about, sharing insights into and bar table brainstorming on compelling site ideas most of all. But if you do have data (or questions or position papers) about the wing-flap frequency or air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, whether African or European, I'll be up for that discussion as well, in the name of fun.

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador JudiMoore's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    In Razerback country.
    Posts
    1,911
    As affiliates, if we focus on providing value and fulfilling needs, we can mess up in a lot of other areas and still look very smart. Providing compelling help to consumers, and the merchants we partner with, will...
    +get you backlinks curing a lot of your seo ills
    +raise your conversion rates and erase / mitigate the impact of your data collection and interpretation errors
    +make you insurmountably stronger against parasitic entities like leaks and adware
    +allow you to diversify into new areas that aren't necessarily niches where you're not a dumbass (at the start).
    +and more opportunity opening leverages...

    Blind yourself by viewing everything through a microscope and the universe of opportunities races past like a blur.

    So leave the overly excessive slicing and dicing to others and raise the aim of your focus towards something a tad larger and more important. An affiliate's job does not start with keyword research or a spreadsheet, it begins with solving a problem or filling a need, usually in the shopping arena.

    If I slice a cucumber finely enough, it looks remarkably like a honeydew. If all you ever look at is the resultant plate of sliced mush, you'll miss a lot, and you won't even know it.

    When you draw a conclusion, try to put a "why" to it, then test that theory before you consider it anything more than just a theory.

    And rely on your site's underlying larger goal / purpose to move you ahead more than your theories (your unproven guesses) about one particular aspect of its performance.

    See you all in Vegas! And I look forward to hearing about, sharing insights into and bar table brainstorming on compelling site ideas most of all. But if you do have data (or questions or position papers) about the wing-flap frequency or air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, whether African or European, I'll be up for that discussion as well, in the name of fun.
    I love it when he simplifies it for me like this. Just kidding, Donuts - I don't even try to use data - I just pay attention to what you say.

    Actually, I've seen lots of businesses and business people draw set-in-concrete erroneous conclusions without even looking at real data.

    Thanks, Donuts. As usual, you're right on and still willing to help the rest of us by sharing.

  12. #12
    Full Member
    Join Date
    October 30th, 2007
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    217
    Economics is (in my opinion) a very inexact science. There are simply too many variables and unknowns. Nevertheless, you can attempt to corner a closed system and it strikes me that affiliate marketing is kind of like a closed economical system in a teapot.

    Of all the forms of advertising I don't think any give such a wealth of data or information as ours. Yeah, many of us (including myself) don't really have the skills and knowledge to properly make something of that data, but I think someone really needs to try and we've certainly got a few people in these forums, including Donuts, who I think are experienced enough and with a wealth of historical data to have a go at it.

  13. #13
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Winter Park, FL
    Posts
    6,930
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_C
    Of all the forms of advertising I don't think any give such a wealth of data or information as ours.
    Good point, one I agree with. Perhaps it's that overabundance of data that gets people a little pickled in their thinking that they can earnestly make literal meaning of it all.

    I should coin the term Data Drunk here, where one consumes too much dissociated data then begins making conclusionary remarks that seem horribly smart, right up until the datahol wears off the next morning...

    Lean towards collecting more data than you think may be necessary while also leaning towards making fewer conclusions from it. And above all of that, craft compelling features and content or whatever else it takes for people's needs to be fulfilled.

    It's more important to analyze how people use your site than to find the 11,327th target keyword.

    It's more important to watch someone using your site for the first time and interview them about their thoughts than to segment your visitors by IP address to try to observe regional differences.

    It's more important to carefully consider emails that visitors have sent regarding what they want than it is to study the seasonal trends in your bounce rate.

    It's more important to consider the consumer's installation difficulties of the products you present than it is to increase your database of products from 13,000 to 14,000 items.

    A somewhat seasoned (and beyond) affiliate has site ideas come into her head with near alarming frequency... it's more important to judge each new idea on it's usefullness, cohesiveness and applicability to shoppers than it is to alter it's DNS records with phoney info, hide it from some of your merchants, host it on a separate C block of IPs from others near the same niche in your quiver, to log it's weekly Alexa rankings or to archive terrabytes of log data for keyword research.

    Data is just a window to see certain things with clarity, but your mind and senses are collectively an entire house... much more than any one particular window can teach you about your neighborhood and it's surroundings and whether you're enticing to visit (and revisit) or not.

    It takes more than a mirror to know your own inner and outer beauty.

    Data, and analyzing it, is like owning a pipe wrench and a flashlight... when I hire a plumber, he'd better bring more than that into my house if he plans to solve my problem.

    Again, I hope everyone has their best creative juices flowing at Affiliate Summit, I hope to glean insights into what I do, what you do, to improve my skills at identifying and creating compelling site ideas and site sections and helping others to do the same. Bring your brain to my table and leave the spreadsheet at home.

    When discussing sites, I hope this thread makes a little alarm bell go off when one of your affiliate friends start a sentence with "why don't you..." or "i've got a suggestion, have you ever tried to..." or "do you think your traffic would like it if you..." The collective thinking power of the minds gathered next week is at Summitt is mind boggling and it's dripping ripe with opportunities.

  14. #14
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Winter Park, FL
    Posts
    6,930
    Another article today I read shows some serious data twisting. Their conclusions remind me of mangled baby ducks.

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/6526...line-ad-market

    One of their (self-serving) conclusions... "Contextual placement alone is outdated".

    First, let's take "alone" out of there - what marketer in their right mind uses only one specific method of promotion... so besides that, they've colored relevancy via contextual advertising as outdated here... and concluded this prospective new mom / baby products advertiser's search for ad spots shouldn't start at aol, but rather on kidprintables.com. No knocks on kidprintables meant here, but if you're using CPC ads, this is a bad joke. If you're using CPM ads, then sure, focused sites work best - but that's not what this report is about, it's about locating the best sites for CPM deals, which IMO, is outdated way of extending reach.

    CPC based contextual advertising eliminates the need to search for all these sites and it simultaneously ensures that you only pay for what you want (interested relevant visitors)

    They also calculate the reach, for products aimed at expectant mothers, is nearly twice as high on the MSN games channel as compared to the MSN channel for health.

    Yahoo's tech channel was ranked as being nearly 50% better than Yahoo's shopping channel.

    Here's a doozy of a conclusion... their analysis showed that the very best performing yahoo channel for Johnson and Johnson to focus on with their baby products ad campaigns is the real estate channel.

    These clowns need their data analysis license revoked.

  15. #15
    Outsourced Program Manager Rick - Bitcom's Avatar
    Join Date
    October 3rd, 2005
    Location
    Safety Harbor, Florida
    Posts
    548
    Donuts you're giving EcomCity Mike a run for his money. And I mean that in the nicest way.

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    2,587
    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    Here's a doozy of a conclusion... their analysis showed that the very best performing yahoo channel for Johnson and Johnson to focus on with their baby products ad campaigns is the real estate channel.

    These clowns need their data analysis license revoked.
    I could sort of see a connection if Johnson and Johnson was advertising aspirin on the real estate channel , but baby products? It'd be interesting to see the line of logic and interpretation they followed to get to that conclusion.
    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
    - Silence is golden. Duct Tape is silver.

  17. #17
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Winter Park, FL
    Posts
    6,930
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick - SiteSell
    Donuts you're giving EcomCity Mike a run for his money. And I mean that in the nicest way.
    Hehehee, excellent, you made me smile!

    By the way, my B.S. degree in Imbibed Lunacy from Whacko U's Distance Learning Fringe Campus is coming via air mail. Professor Mike just sent me a parrot-gram to let me know it was coming.

  18. #18
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
    Join Date
    October 9th, 2007
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    1,705
    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    Hehehee, excellent, you made me smile!

    ...Whacko U's Distance Learning Fringe Campus...
    I think you have yourself a fine idea for a t-shirt or a hat there, Donuts. Are you still a student? If so, check out this interesting offering.

    -sfcom


  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    5,303
    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    An affiliate's job does not start with keyword research or a spreadsheet, it begins with solving a problem or filling a need, usually in the shopping arena.
    Can't agree with you more here. You don't even need to worry about what keywords are generating traffic and which ones convert better. You can worry about what your fans want and give it to them.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  20. Newsletter Signup

+ Reply to Thread

Similar Threads

  1. Problem getting reports (no data)
    By delsol in forum Rakuten LinkShare - LS
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: July 6th, 2009, 12:54 PM
  2. Help interpreting merchant uptime?
    By AspiringCarbon in forum ShareASale - SAS
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: June 5th, 2009, 10:17 PM
  3. Need help interpreting results!!
    By 212TomTom in forum Search Engine Optimization
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: March 7th, 2008, 12:50 AM
  4. account's data problem?
    By ciciyu in forum Rakuten LinkShare - LS
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: December 1st, 2007, 11:30 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •