Zero Moment of Truth – Hype, Nonsense, and PseudoScience

Shock, how amazing – new ‘research’ from Google shows that advertisers should be spending far more of their advertising dollars online with Google.

In a report that insults the intelligence of the marketing community Google tell us that consumers are doing more on-line product research than they did in the past (when they weren’t online). Unless you have been in a coma for the past decade you didn’t need Google to tell you that. But some quantitative insight would be useful – how much are consumers using on-line sources of product information, and what sources? Unfortunately Google’s research and data presentation is so shoddy we can gleam nothing reliable.

They did an online survey (ie biased towards heavier online users) of various subsamples (eg 500 people who had bought an automobile, another 250 who had applied for a new credit card in the past 6 months, and so on).

All the data concerns claimed (recalled) behaviour and the sub-sample results are then often averaged into meaningless metrics.

The report highlights stupid meaningless quotes like “70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase”. Is this every purchase ? Or 70% have a least once in their lives looked at a product review ? Actually this quote is sourced from an equally sloppy 2009 study but not by Google – why they chose it when they have their own “new research” puzzles me.

I could spend all day pointing out how meaningless the metrics are in the Google report, but I don’t think there is any need. Only extremely gulliable marketers would rely on such a sloppy blatent piece of self-promotion disguised as research.

In May, Professor Jerry Wind and I are hosting a conference at Wharton. If Google had some meaningful, reliable data on the value of online touchpoints we would be delighted to invite them to present.


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