In Case You Missed It: Recap of The Evolution of Communication with Jim Sterne

Written by IABC Ottawa volunteer Brittany Skinner

Like the farmers’ fields that transformed into city cores, the communication landscape has undergone a transformation so vast, that mediums such as newspapers and radio broadcasts seem like ancient technologies compared to the Internet. Moving from a push to a pull paradigm, people now have the power to retrieve information that was once controlled and disseminated by corporations, and as a result, have forced marketers to adjust their campaign strategies in order to accommodate this newfound consumer freedom. However, this paradigm shift is merely the starting point for Jim Sterne, Founder of the eMetrics Summit and Chairman of the Digital Analytics Association, who presented “The Evolution of Communication” on February 27, 2014 and discussed the various ways that corporations can measure the value of the Internet and the growing need for analytics.

Beginning with the Industrial Revolution, Jim explained how the personal relationships that consumers once held with their local shopkeepers (1:1 ratio) were effectively terminated as corporations learned how to mass-produce, distribute and communicate their goods with large populations (1:many ratio). During this time, marketing was about creating a conversation or ‘noisemaking’ and success was measured based on reach, frequency, awareness and response. Corporations would use various tests and segmentations (based on location, demographics and psychographics) in order to determine the best advertisement to apply to the population at large. With the rise of the Internet and social media however, corporations then had to engage with their consumers in order to get them to buy their products. During this time, marketers placed a focus on ‘ease’ – how easy a website was to find; how easy it was to navigate; how easy it was to get answers; how easy a product was to buy; and how easy it was to tell a friend about. Soon after, however, a disconnect began to appear between the ‘data scientist’ and the ‘insight customer’ and corporations needed to bring in a ‘data detective’ or analyst to work between the two entities, in order to raise awareness, improve attitude, influence the influence, inspire interaction, generate sales, and drive customer lifetime values. Jim then explained that in order to be a good analyst, one has to be mindful of the following five points:

  • Understand the raw material: Big data is big. It is more data than we can manage, and can be spread across multiple platforms (web, websites, mobile, retail, call center, social). These various platforms need to communicate/link with one another.
  • Understand the tools: Open source tools (map reduce or ‘hadoop’) take the data from multiple sources and crunch it, in order to give the user answers/big pictures.
  • Understand the problem to be solved: analytics are worthless without goals
  • Understand the art of analysis: Analysis isn’t about having the best reports, but asking good questions – it’s the “the aggregation of data for purposes of pondering, filtering, sorting, ranking, comparing & grouping.”
  • Understand the art of communication: tell stories and have an opinion rather than merely delivering reports. Make sure to tie everything to the bottom line and help individuals achieve their goals.

Following his presentation, Jim opened the floor to questions from the audience. Some of these discussions included:

  • Don’t make the consumer responsible for the data – the analyst is the middleman that goes through the information provided by the ‘data scientist,’ and hands over their insights to the decision maker or ‘insight consumer.’ (Ex: we don’t need to know how the car works, but how much it will cost to fix it – in this case, the car technician would be the analyst).
  • Big data for small organizations – everyone can make use of google analytics.
  • Analysis exchange – program for non-profits.
In sum…

  • Marketing is a conversation
  • Segmentation is your friend
  • ‘Big data’ is always more than you are used to
  • Identify the problem to be solved
  • Analytics are worthless without goals
  • All models are wrong, some are useful
  • Master the art of communication
  • Your (informed) opinion (based on the data) is your contribution

Once again, we would like to thank Jim Sterne for traveling all the way from sunny California to share his knowledge on this subject matter and record an episode of The Voice podcast, and thanks to all of the participants for joining us! Click here for our upcoming PD event on March 26, 2014 and reserve your seat today!


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IABC Ottawa would like to thank its generous Season Sponsors:





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