Written Jul. 6, 2006 by in Blogging with 1 Comment
In my previous post, I noted that everything on the web was permanent and findable--erroneous "facts" about your brand left unchallenged become a part of the web's "permanent record." Wikipedia is a great example of this--on the whole, it is pretty good and covers vastly more topics than a traditional encyclopedia might, but its collaborative, unreferreed nature means that while the whole is pretty good, any given individual entry could be way, way wrong. Caveat Emptor.
So, while we typically don't respond to bloggers who simply bash us for the sake of bashing us, we do respond when our data is mischaracterized or incorrectly quoted, because these errors can stay in "print" forever, and it isn't in our interest or the interests of the thousands of businesses who have used our data to have the wrong facts attributed to us.
Take, for example, this mischaracterization of our data on HD radio from Mark Ramsey:
3. When reciever [sic] prices drop, demand will explodeMark is correct in one thing here--that the $100 statistic is dead wrong, since it didn't come from our research. The writer of the original Boston Herald article got this one way wrong (the actual figure is 21%, not 'nearly half'), and unfortunately Mark has turned an inaccurate use of our data into an equally invalid attack on our work.
This is a tremendous myth. The article quotes:
'A recent Arbitron/Edison Media Research study found that more than one-third of Americans are interested in HD radio, but nearly half said they would only purchase an HD radio if it cost $100 or less.'
This survey is hopelessly vague and worded with "deniability" in mind. For example, what does "interested" mean - and when I have a dollar to spend which of the things I'm "interested" in will I spend it on? HD Radio exists in anything but a vacuum. Further, the statistic that "nearly half said they would purchase an HD Radio if it costs $100 or less" is absolutely, positively dead wrong. Of course, from a "deniability" standpoint, "would purchase" and "will purchase" are not the same.
Such is the level of "truthiness" in the world of HD radio.
Neither the article, nor any piece of research we have ever produced has stated or implied that demand for HD Radio would explode if the price dropped, so Ramsey has constructed a bit of a straw man argument here. As to how we word our questions (not reproduced in either article), Edison is an active member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, the Advertising Research Foundation and the Marketing Research Association; I can assure you that our questions are not designed to improve "deniability" or "truthiness," but to solve the business problems of our clients with survey instruments that are methodologically sound, statistically valid, and that utilize all the techniques we have both learned from and contributed to the field of opinion research.
In the case of the Arbitron/Edison Internet and Multimedia Series, we are always looking to improve the questions we ask and incorporate what we learn from our clients, board of advisors and industry leaders. There are now 14 iterations of this study--the richest, most trackable mine of publicly available data on Internet and Multimedia consumption habits and their impact on traditional media in the industry--and we make them all available for free on our web site. Have suggestions? Please pass them on to me--we welcome the dialogue.
I look forward to reading Mark's blog, and hope he continues to publish his own research--like us, I know that he prides himself on using valid measures and representative samples, and it is certainly his prerogative to study our Arbitron/Edison Internet and Multimedia Survey questionnaires and construct different ways to approach these issues to add value for his clients. In our own quest for truth (and not "truthiness") all we ask is that our data is represented accurately and fairly, as we would do for anyone in our industry--to do otherwise devalues us all.