Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Data and Data Strategy

For most of August, I’ve been writing about topics that seemingly have little to do with marketing--sports for one, automobile cost of ownership for another.  I suppose that I use August to clear my head the same way the French use August to clear Paris.

What traffic?  It’s August.

However, in a spectacularly circumlocutory way, I’ve hit on a theme that matters dearly to marketers of all stripes: that data and data strategy mean two very different things.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Asking Questions vs. Having Data

Since marketers have so much data, many of them have become accustomed, I think, to believing that they have answers.  I’d like to take a moment to illustrate that very often, a wide gulf separates the two categories.

My readers and friends will express no surprise that I draw my example from the world of automobiles, a frequent topic on this blog.  Let’s examine a claim by critics of hybrid cars, that the fuel efficiency of these cars will not amount to a cost savings sufficient to cover the added cost of hybrid technology.

Before we dive into the numbers, I’ll make two points:

  1. The critics have it right, and
  2. So what?

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to lose a customer, by Filson

In one of my early posts, I wrote that a company could create a great brand through direct channels rather than rely on traditional brand media such as broadcast TV or print.  You can argue my point all you like, but I think we can all agree that a brand can destroy itself through direct media.

Case in point: Filson.

OK, I still want one, but still...

For those of you unfamiliar with Filson, they have made clothes since the 19th century in Seattle (predating Boeing and even Starbucks).  While they originally created clothing for Yukon gold pioneers, they quickly established themselves as a premiere American manufacturer for outdoorsmen with handsome, functional and well-built items.  I own three: a vest, a briefcase (see below) and, of course, a safari jacket.

Also, thanks to them, I have been solicited by one of the most repugnant organizations in America: the National Rifle Association.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sports, Media and Data Part V (The Great Change)

As we’ve discussed, the telegraph, newspapers, radio and TV promoted some sports more than others.  These media brought data to the everyday fan that changed his or her perspective on the games they covered.  Obviously, the Internet changed a few sports as well.

However, I think that the Internet and its attendant data streams have fundamentally have not merely made sports like mixed martial arts more popular.  Rather, I think they’ve changed many fans’ relationships with sports in ways hard to imagine even 15 years ago.

To wit, the Internet has not only brought the games closer to the fans, but it has also brought the fans closer to the games.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sports, Media & Data part IV (Which Sport Won the Internet?)

What sport has the Internet transformed the most?

In my previous three posts, we’ve discussed how newspapers and the telegraph transformed horse racing via The Daily Racing Form, how radio transformed baseball and how various forms of television (broadcast, cable and HDTV) transformed football, basketball and hockey.  While we probably don’t have enough perspective to declare a sports winner for the Internet, some forms have come to the fore in this era that deserve attention.

If we were to hold a runoff election for the sport that has grown the most because of the Internet, I suspect that mixed martial arts (MMA), poker and fantasy sports would stand as candidates.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sports, Media and Data Part III (TV)

So far in our discussion of how sports and media have created data streams that changed fans’ perspective, we’ve discussed The Daily Racing Form--which drew from telegraph and newspapers--and baseball--which drew from radio.  You don’t need to be Marshall McLuhan to know what comes next.

Obviously, television has dominated the American communication landscape from the postwar era on through today.  However, three distinct forms of TV--broadcast, cable and HDTV--each promulgated data that helped drive three different sports to degrees of prominence in football, basketball and hockey, respectively.

How each version of TV drove change helps us understand how different types of data help us see things--literally see things, in this case--differently.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sports, Media and Data, part II (talkin’ baseball)

Welcome back to our discussion of how emerging media have shaped the data we use to appreciate sports.  Here’s the previous installment, in which I introduced the concept and showed how telegraphs and cheap newspapers led to the formation of the Daily Racing Form, which in turn turned horse racing into a nationwide powerhouse from a purely local industry.

In this post, we’ll look at the close relationship between baseball and radio in the medium’s early days, which led to a change in how Americans enjoyed our national game because of the availability of new data.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sports, Media and Data Part I

With the Olympics in full swing, baseball heading into the pennant races and NFL players reporting to comically-undersized college dorm rooms across the nation, now seems as good a time as any to reflect on sports.  Specifically, I have recently begun thinking about the intersection of sports, media and data.

I believe that this discussion deserves an airing because it informs how we think about data in general and marketing data specifically.  As sports and the media that cover them evolved into professionally-managed businesses, these data grew in importance.  Moreover, I think that by understanding how we depend on data as fans will help us understand how to use data more effectively as marketers.

Certainly, other writers have considered sports and media at greater length and with substantially greater talent than I plan to do.  The Gray Lady has a reporter dedicated to this beat.  Names such as Grantland Rice, Red Barbour, Howard Cosell, Walter Iooss and Chris Berman symbolize entire eras of sports.  They and their colleagues have become almost as much a part of the game as balls, green grass and parquet floors.

However, the contributions of these men--and the relatively few women alongside of them--do not stand alone as the contributions of media to sport.  I will argue that the data provided by media contributed as mightily as the words spun by their bards.  Think of a sports world without box scores, on-screen graphics, Vegas odds, and out-of-town scores.  Think of how your own understanding of sports has benefited from slow-motion replays, telephoto shots and injury reports. These data comprise an element of sports unavailable to the fan until the 20th century, for the most part.

I will argue first that the data made available by new media channels have changed fans’ appreciation of sports in ways more profound than the people mentioned above.  More to the point, the media and their attendant data have elevated some sports above others, each in its own time.  For instance, I’ll argue that telegraph and newspaper made horse racing the business that it is (or was, at any rate), that radio provided data that turned baseball into America’s true pastime and that TV, cable TV and HDTV each bore data that made football, basketball and finally ice hockey more than just men in colorful uniforms running around.

Today, we’ll begin with horse racing and in subsequent posts, we’ll cover how other individual sports owe their popularity to specific media vehicles--and their data--and how that happened.  Finally, we’ll discuss what sport(s) the Internet and its multifold technologies have conspired to make pre-eminent.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Social Media and Race

Black people use social media a lot.

I’ll pause for a moment until the sound of plates dropping to the floor and crashing dies down.

In our supposedly post-racial America, we claim not to notice race anymore.  However, we clearly do.  We agonize over the ethnicity of cartoon characters, for crying out loud.  Yet I see little discussion in marketing circles of a well-recognized trend--the great acceptance of social media by African-Americans.  The invaluable Pew Internet & American Life Project has followed the trend for years, most recently noting that blacks use Twitter at a rate more than double that of whites (28% vs. 12% overall).

Other sources point to blacks’ use of social media as well.  Let’s explore them and what they mean for marketers.