Making up numbers as needed

Tom Fishburne, the Marketoonist, tweeted this cartoon today:

The joke in the comic is too true. Numbers in a PowerPoint are rarely called into question—even though challenging the assumptions of a presentation is an easy way to appear smart and insightful. However, there is little incentive to question any data that doesn’t conflict with one’s currently held beliefs. On the other hand, if there is conflict, even additional evidence beyond the charts and graphs will rarely change someone’s mind, so the numbers—even if accurate—may as well be made up.

Data-driven decision making can lead to some strange places when those who act on the data don’t understand where the data comes from, have too much confidence in its validity, or have a weak understanding of what it means. Fishburne, in the blog post that accompanied the cartoon wrote:

I heard a marketer say recently, “Publishing numbers in a powerpoint deck does not make them true.” We have never had greater access to data to make decisions. But it has also never been easier to cherry pick data to support whatever point we’re trying to make. Being data-driven in our decision making increasingly means being data-skeptical.

Knowing how to be skeptical with data is also a difficult challenge. Real numbers can sound fake if they are too round (i.e. 25%), and a decimal point in the percent is usually enough to make a number look legitimate, even if the evidence behind it is thin. Cherry picking data to make a point does not prove anything. Proof requires honest consideration of all the relevant data, not just the data needed to support the thesis you came up with before opening Excel to draw the pie chart.

Embedding Getty

There’s been a lot of excitement on the web today about Getty Images allowing visitors to embed their photos across the web.

With people increasingly turning to imagery to communicate and tell their stories online, the embed capability opens up Getty Images’ award-winning imagery for seamless sharing. Through the embed tool, individuals can draw on Getty Images’ latest news, sports, celebrity, music and fashion coverage; immense digital photo archive; and rich conceptual images to illustrate their unique passions, ideas and interests. This innovation opens one of the largest, deepest and most comprehensive image collections in the world for easy sharing, thereby making the world an even more visual place.

The embeds look like this:

This isn’t a radical new feature. Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr, Instagram, and many other web media companies have made their content available to embed for years. This often results in their content going viral and being spread far and wide across the web. The difference is those companies don’t earn their primary revenue from licensing their content for others’ to publish.

Introducing the feature is a smart move on Getty’s part, but it is surprising that they waited so long to release it. Their management team must have finally accepted that the network value of viral media was worth the amount it would undercut their licensing revenue. The feature will bring more links to their site and show off their work and brand to a wider audience.

Automatically including the attribution for each photo is useful, and it opens up their library of images to publishers who would not or cannot buy a proper license. However, there are a few key features missing from their embed code—features that were probably left out on purpose or because of some backroom bickering—such as being able to edit the image size or make the image fluidly resize on a responsive web page. These limitations protect Getty’s image licensing business, making sure it is still attractive to better funded web publishers and news organizations. However, the limitations will slow the adoption of the feature, since the embedded images will show up strangely in many website templates. Perhaps these features are coming soon, but until they do there will be some goofy looking pages.

The Psychology of Social Commerce

Tab Juice, a social e-commerce platform, has an interesting infographic on some of the psychological influences that go on in the minds of online shoppers.

When you combine the power of the mind and the force of social shopping, you have a mighty confabulation of social rules and subconscious needs. Together, these things play into the psychology of social commerce. Psychologists have defined six universal heuristics or learning methods that have been seen in shoppers and are now being seen in social commerce.

These are interesting factors to keep in mind when building commercial websites as well as when you’re shopping on them. It’s important to be aware of the mental influences on your decisions.

Social Commerce Psychology of Shoppers

via Top Rank Blog