Thursday, December 04, 2008

Students in a Recession

Yesterday I had the pleasure to talk about my work at the Medill School of Northwestern University in Chicago. It’s always good to see that there are a lot of young students eager to enter the marketing universe, especially in these tough economic times. 

I learned a few things:

  •  After presenting some of my more recent Web Analytics initiatives one Medill professor asked a very smart question: “How much do you think on a scale of 1 to 100 have we mastered Web Analytics as a discipline?” After thinking for a few seconds I said “20”. There is still so much to be learned and understood within Interactive Marketing and how to measure the impact of Online Programs. We still don’t have even a standard and simple way of measuring Unique Visitors to Websites. There are a lot of siloed approaches across a wide range of very different companies (e.g. Microsoft, Digitas) to advance Web Analytics but it still feels like an open green field.
  •  The Medill school is doing a lot of work around “Integrated Marketing”. My argument that we do need a new theory of “Integrated Marketing” found some interested listeners. My observations is that over the last ten years our discipline has put “Integrated Marketing” in the center of our thinking but our progress is much less that we all assume. My plead to the students was to enter the field with fresh thinking, new methodologies, and out-of-the-box views, so our marketing discipline can make some real progress over the next years in building a new theory of “Integrated Marketing”.
  • I was positively surprised that most analytical minded students in the audience understood that analytics needs to center around building data driven stories, and not the most complex algorithms. The modeling and analytical work is just a tool to tell the smart and insightful story but not the centerpiece of our work. But you still need to know how to build a multivariate regression analysis and much more. 

Despite the rough economy, it’s a great time to be a marketer and innovate of how brands interact with consumers and how consumers build and change brands.


Blogger Mberenis said...

I'd like to Post a CommentThe recession really isn't that bad if you know where to look. The bailout money is spilling over to us believe it or not. I've done research and found that there is more money than what you think...

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10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be frank..have you ever built a model? Can you? If you cannot, please do not undermine those who do.

Translating algorithms into actionable insights is applicable to everything in this world. What use is it to have a complicated formula when it has no actionability? You and I may know nothing much about quantum mechanics but those who do appreciate it do so for the science behind it. The art, I believe is in the ability to appreciate it and use it.
Marketing is becoming more and more cross disciplinary. There are so many story tellers and so few people with substance.

Sometimes we tend to promote what we are good at. No harm doing so as long as we do not pooh pooh what new disciplines bring into marketing

I dont mean to say that hard core analytics are the only ones who have substance. But do not undermine the analytic abilities. It's hard. Certainly not something you and I can do.

It will be unfair if people like you decide to kill the real geeks completely. Promote them, accept them and groom them. Abdicating that is a sin.

Are you becoming another agency bullshitter? You have to resist that temptation!

11:50 PM  
Blogger Bhupendra said...

Good article from Michael, and great comment from Mr. Anonymous. This is a thought provoking comment.

Well, I have built lots of Statistical Models myself for various Relevances like Risk, Attrition, Response etc. And true, that knowing statistics does not mean becoming a good modeler, its an art NOT everyone posses. One of my friend from old Global Analytics days, Cherish is the finest modelers and everyone respects him. We really need to groom such people.

Have said that getting good Modelers is difficult. Great IS. But getting a good implementer is very rare. I see very people in the industry actually understand business, and take it to design the Modeling approach, and implements it in the best possible way. This is something that really should be in focus. Else it will just be complex tools, and complicated Models with no or poor business actions.

For me, Michael is right and I don't see him understanding Modelers but focusing the other way.


12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


May your dreams of writing a book with Michael come true. You scratch mine, I scratch yours...good approach.

There is no argument on the dire need for imagination. The greatest pure science virtuosos have demonstrated that it is imagination that separates the wheat from the chaff. We are not talking about the mediocre then.

But in Marketing, imagination runs riot oftentimes. It is the analytic rigor in a pragmatic manner that will differentiate the wheat

Michael is slanting to erstwhile marketers from the tone in his recent blogs. It is important to accept first that Marketing Problems are complex. Simplifying the complex with a solution is not by ignoring the complex but by learning collaboratively.

Now B, when you say Michael is right, are you saying that I am wrong?

By the way, you completely lost me with 'implementers'.....!!!!!!!!!

No good modeler worth his salt is a pure number cruncher or an intellectual masturbator. I bet RECESSION is a good time to weed them off........

I really feel that Michael is venting his frustration of his team at DRAFTFCB

:) :( :) :(

12:50 AM  
Blogger Bhupendra said...

Mr. Anonymous,
You have some good points and I dont actually deny all of them.

Implementers are as important as the thought leaders. Technical manpower is the team that makes things possible, else everything is just in papers. I am with you here.

I dont want to go into Michael's intention of writing the post, but only comment on the actual points he has mentioned. Many a times frustration comes up and there is the Principle of Diminishing Marginal Utility. You feel those things more important which you lack, and this has happened to me too. But I think, this is nothing wrong. The world is like this, and we need to focus on the shortage and need to address it. Addressing it could be by writing or training people. I generally choose the second one, but I must admit thats not always a good way specially when you are at senior position. You dont want to go down to the lowest level and train people.

I agree with you that there are many Marketers and Business People who give very little importance to the Technicians and Implementers. This is wrong. I have seen anyone in Analytics Industry who does not have hands-on experience cannot stand up. Afterall its a high IQ work, and everyone in the industry is smart to judge the right leader.

Sorry if I happen to hurt you. But even now I admit that focus should be given to business efficiency and business problems than technique and powerful algorithm.

-- Bhupendra

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to give "Marketing Geek" some credit though. He puts his reputation on the line with every post but he still has the balls to open himself to critques and publish regularly He's not always going to be correct and some will disagree with him on topics but he's bringing topics to the surface and getting us to talk about them.

If Mr. Anonymous would post the link to his blog then we could really have a level playing field. Mr.A, if you're into modeling then I'm sure you put your ideas on the line and blog, right? Surely you're not trolling boards and slamming someone else for speaking his mind without putting yourself out there too and voicing your opinion.

Nice job MG, you're being honest and speaking your mind, that's all we can ask for.

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