Bad data has big consequences, according to Quantium executive

Quantium’s Tim Trumper cautions marketers to be wary of the dangers of poor or misleading data as they establish a data-driven marketing approach

Quantium's Tim Trumper presenting his ad:tech keynote on data disruption.
Quantium's Tim Trumper presenting his ad:tech keynote on data disruption.

Marketers increasingly adopting a data-driven approach should be wary of misleading or poor data, a leading analytics consultancy claims.

Speaking at the ad:tech event in Sydney on data disruption, advisor to Quantium’s board of directors, Tim Trumper, discussed the importance of data to companies who want a competitive advantage. But he warned the audience that without proper investment into analytical tools and looking beyond the surface, businesses can face a strong disadvantage.

Social media in particular holds many pitfalls, according to Trumper, as likes and followers are not indicative of true engagement.

“Facebook is a genius business… and inside of it is a treasure trove of information. But at a casual glance, it can mislead you if you didn't know what you were doing with data,” he said.

“BMW has 12 million likes, but if you look at transaction data you can see who mentions BMW and their behaviour at scale. Meanwhile, Toilet Duck sells 800,000 units roughly in Australia, but globally has only 200 likes, so mining the likes there aren’t going to be the answer.”

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As a way of illustrating inappropriate data usage, Trumper cited how BrisConnections in Queensland spent $4 million on the Clem Jones tunnel under the assumption that 130,000 people in Brisbane would use the new toll road, when the reality was it is only used by 28,000 people.

“That’s a bad error. I would be surprised if they used a vast expansive pool of data,” said Trumper.

A more extreme case involved Bill Clinton’s approval of the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade during the Bosnian War, when he signed off on the attack based on the CIA's incorrect co-ordinates when detecting terrorist activity.

“It killed some diplomats and it was the closest America has come to war with China. Imagine trying to explain that, it was basically just the data was wrong,” said Trumper. "To not have the best available data is a disadvantage that could have some dire consequences.”

However if used in the right way, large-scale transaction data can reveal habits not previously seen before, helping to develop a view of individual customer profiles such as where they live, their income, where they shop, which magazines they read and so on, Trumper said.

“The truth is starting to be revealed in clever and new ways,” he added.

Data is now a key issue in the board room, and predictions suggest big data will lead to $1.2 trillion of incremental profit in the US, and 190,000 new jobs, Thumper added.

More from ad:tech 2014:

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