A bastards guide to: skepticism

Hi, my name is Joel and I’m a bastard.

I’m that guy that sits in your presentation and then at the end asks you for the sources of the various stats as well as what the exact question asked was and the who/when/where’s of the sample group. I know this annoys you, I can see it in your eyes. That mixture of anger, irritation and ever-so-slight fear that you will be caught flogging off your biased and untrustworthy data.

The thing that bothers me is that a lot of people in digital media (in particular social) seem to immediately forget the most basic elements of statistical analysis, the kind of basic stuff that should be common sense for anyone who sits and actually thinks about what they’re looking at, things like the difference between correlation and causality. Recently I have been having a bit of a rant about the sheer volume of misleading ‘research’ that has been published about Facebook in an attempt to give clear monetary value to “fans,” an effort that will never make sense anyway because each ‘fan’ is unique, it is not the same as a conversion/sale. I was going to write about why their study was deeply flawed in every way, but The Adcontrarian did it for me.

It wouldn’t be such an issue if they admitted fault when people call bullshit on their stupid buzz-videos (side note: reading the comments below this video will actually cause hemorrhaging of the brain, the stupidity is that dense) but instead they try to argue that the figures have value by referring to “research” that backs up the numbers, however this “research” is usually highly biased and funded by interested parties, not only this but the figures they quote are taken dramatically out of context.

If digital media as an industry really wants to start seeing significant investment from brands we need to step up to the table and be honest with advertisers, we need to tell them realistic information, not a bunch of pseudo-scientific stats that immediately set off the bullshit detector of everyone in the room. This current approach is akin to a kid telling you he caught a fish thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis big, no one believes them, but its cute that they try to trick you.


3 thoughts on “A bastards guide to: skepticism

  1. A point well made. Just as each Facebook fan is unique, so are the reasons behind a brand’s involvement in Social Media. What they want to achieve from the space should be clearly discussed and understood in order to deliver relevant and realistic reports.

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