Ghost responses may be haunting your digital marketing analytics



An email from Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project claimed great response to his 24-hour webathon, blogger Anthony Watts posted October 26 – “over 20 million broadcast views” and “252 million Twitter and Facebook impressions.” But the numbers of live, breathing, actual viewers showed these claims were just a wee bit detached from…reality.

YouTube viewership figures showed 51 views from Europe, 73 from South America, 118 from Africa, 156 from North America, 245 from Asia and 22 unaccounted for geographically. That’s a total of 665, which is a mere 19,999,335 short of the 20 million claimed.

The ghosts in the machine

This is not to beat up on Al Gore – who, having made a gazillion bucks pushing global warming, isn’t hurting – but to illustrate a common digital marketing problem, namely, that it’s hard to tell who you’re really reaching.

For example, Watts suggested, “some electronic virtual viewers were involved, concluding from a mathematical analysis of the numbers that ‘At least 85% of total views were bots cycling every 10 seconds.'”

Another potential problem was human but transient viewers – “people just getting a quick look, but not bothering to stick around to take in the whole show, or even a portion of it. It seemed then, that many of the ‘views’ were simpl[y] people engaging in ‘short attention span theater,'” Watts noted.

Scary statistics

Gore’s not alone. According to Edelman Berland research conducted for Adobe, too many digital marketers don’t know how well their campaigns are doing – or even how to find out.

  • While 76 percent of marketers believe measurement is important, only 29 percent believe they’re doing it well.
  • Fewer than half of digital marketers – 48 percent – believe themselves proficient in digital marketing.
  • 82 percent have concerns about whether they’re reaching their customers, 77 percent about proving their campaigns’ effectiveness and 79 percent about even understanding whether or not their campaigns are working.

So it’s no wonder that 60 percent don’t think that their marketing’s effective and a whopping 81 percent don’t strongly agree with the statement, “I know our digital marketing is working.”

Tricks or treats?

Knowing which of your responses come from real, live and – most important – qualified and interested human beings is a big problem. And, of course, Adobe wouldn’t have so kindly called it to our attention if they didn’t have an app for it.

One of their Marketing Cloud tools helps digital marketers tell the tricks from the treats. A 60-second commercial from Goodby & Silverstein doesn’t really explain the solution, but it sure does dramatize the problem. In it, the CEO of a dead-tree encyclopedia publishing company notices a huge spike of website traffic, orders forests chopped down for paper, printing presses turning out encyclopedias overtime in Japan, fleets of trucks and container ships delivering tons of volumes – and all because a toddler on a living-room floor keeps mindlessly pounding away at an encyclopedia display ad on the touchscreen of Mommy’s laptop.

Of course, unlike Bud Light’s Facebook/Datalogix program, Adobe’s tools are confined to online marketing, not to the brick-and-mortar retail marketplace.

But even so, Al Gore could’ve used them before he sent out his email.

Or maybe he did, but his Adobe Marketing Cloud, like its companion Creative Cloud, kept immobilizing his computer with never-ending updates.

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