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May 13, 2015



Thanks for the insight ...but what about redundant and/or contradictory data that needs to be accounted for in any analysis. Did you get any feel that this was a growing problem or one that is becoming manageable?

Also, I would think those with the best data will be the eventual winners ...but collection and analysis have problems (privacy, security ...etc) and take time and money and only the big boys have the resources to pull it off. Your thoughts?


@Tomi, ...BTW, Charlie has expanded on his recent Semiaccurate analysis article with more compelling detail. You might enjoy the read at:

...and please excuse me for using some text from your blog ...but, for all the microsoft astroturfers ...say it with me...


Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Baron95 and baron99

Its the debate of the barons! Thanks for comments.

Baron95 - yeah, but I think its a bit like in US TV for a long time it was three commercial networks that did the lion's share of TV ad money: ABC, CBS and NBC. Even though there were independent TV stations in larger TV markets, the 'networks' took most of TV ad money. In that way Google and Facebook are becoming the channels for many digital advertisers (and they are also buying up rivals, started with Google purchasing Admob) again, not unlike TV networks in the USA. With digital its global, not national, but also in many advanced markets there is a series of domestic giants in mobile advertising totally dwarfing the local presence of Google or Facebook in mobile (or digital) advertising like D2C in Japan, Aircross in South Korea etc.

But I think you're right that this is - another - trend happening in digital marketing. The concentration of the capablity to some choke points, very much so as the channel inventory of ads, sold by a few giants. From my angle, thats a 'down the line' issue of 'interest' only years down the line. Yes obviously Google and Facebook invest into this area and want to make it their big source of revenue in the next decade but for the advertising industry itself, they aren't that far yet. They have to 'buy into' the mobile opportunity at this stage and learn to walk first before they can run. Ie they have to try with apps, fall down, then go discover SMS and mobile web, get onto their feet, start to walk, then they can learn more. This is still clearly - based on the Forrester study - the state of the advertising industry itself. Even Forrester in its study was critical of the ad industry for not going to where the audience is, SMS MMS and mobile web, rather than smartphone apps and the shiny things like Augmented Reality.

baron99 - thanks. Gosh, there is a lot of confusing data yes, but not so much when performance is measured - after all you can't count the same dollar twice unless you are Bernie Madoff and like Madoff, soon going to jail. So once organizations link actual mobile campaign measurement to actual sales boost, then there is really no confusion. I used to have my fave story some years back the BMW campaign in Germany that sold winter tyres to new BMW buyers with less than one year of ownership. A single MMS message (highly targeted, highly specialized, 'segment of one' thinking, to opt-in targets among BMW owners) which cost 125,000 dollars in total, including airtime and all creative ad agency work etc, generated measured BMW sales of 45 million dollars. Every BMW dealer who sold winter tyres based on that mobile campaign, had also in their sales system the required place for their campaign code, and this identified which campaign brought in the sales. So one MMS message. It was something like 50,000 customers maybe if I remember correctly, campaign had something like 40% conversion rate - actual sales generated - and total income to BMW dealers out of tyres (and often also wheels) sold at 45 million dollars. The guy who invented this idea was just the head of digital marketing for BMW in Germany. He was promoted and promoted and promoted and today is Chief Marketing Officer of Rolls Royce, Marc Mielau. One MMS message...

But perhaps you meant the conflicting data we have now about customers and their expectations and wants. The UK election is a perfect example that even very professional polling in a Western country of very free press, so we can't imagine this was somehow corrupted polling as one might suspect in say Russia haha - but yeah, even the UK polls last week were totally off on the election result.

The best information we can possibly have is actual performance. That will increasingly be driven by mobile, as our wallets and our spending and our identities all migrate to mobile (you know baron99 reading this blog, that in Dubai they did the world's first driver's licence already with mobile, that in Estonia the first national election was held which included mobile phone voting, and in dozens of countries more than 10% and in a handful countries already more than 20% of the population uses mobile payments. In Kenya more people use mobile payments than any other form of banking or credit cards or payments other than cash. So back to the point, best possible info is actual performance.

If we can't have that, the next best info is to directly ask every consumer (opt in direct marketing survey) like Team Obama did in 2012. It was incredibly expensive but the price of the technology will come down fast, the cost of the 'insight' is also gently coming down as this case study becomes known and taught at business schools (and obviously for political science student). So in 2012 the primary need for Narwhal was to accurately target the relevant voters out of 60 million registered voters in those 9 'battleground' states. The total cost of Narwhal syste was 100 million dollars. So the cost per voter was $1.67 to the total system (which had total capacity and voter data for 125 million US registered voters, but the deep 'segment of one' analysis and the two scoring tables of 100 points each was only done for 60 million voters). So technically this is what the 'bleeding edge' tech cost three years ago, in terms of leasing data warehousing and computer processing power from Amazon's cloud-based system, the salaries of 120 data engineers for up to one year, etc. But on top of that we would have to add the voter contact activities done by the campaign to populate the data into the system. That would not be nearly as big but might be say 10% or 20% more to the total cost, so we could look at 2 dollars per data record.

If you are selling Coke vs Pepsi, or McDonalds vs Burger King, and obviously globally, if this is the level of cost, its probably still too high to justify this kind of system on the economic argument (at least not globally, it could be done on an experimental level in one test market). If you are BMW or Toyota or Audi or Ford, this is peanuts! Two dollars per data record for such a huge system it collects car buyer data for the whole market - including my competitors? Gosh, its CHEAP. (Because cars cost so much..). A smartphone? Sits somewhere in the middle. An election to be the most powerful man (or woman) in the free world? Priceless...

Anyway, back to reliability of data. Then we get consumer surveys by sample, on quantitative measures. This is what typical election polls are. The pollsters use statistical measures to give 'confidence intervals' so this poll of 1,024 people has a margin of error of 3% and so forth. Note, it means once every 33 polls, the results will be wrong. But if several polls by separate polling organizations do the same target, each having similar margin of error, in time very close to each other, and they all have a similar result, it becomes 'very reliable'. But this is sampling. And its opinion, its not actual performance.

A far less reliable, but still useful market research methodology is the 'qualitative' survey. This is typically done with a 'focus group' so say 12 people in a room are shown a couple of phones and given time to play with them and then asked to talk about their feelings - often talking openly with the group, and commenting on each others' opinions. Focus group research can be very useful and it can be rubbish, depends very much on the competence of researchers and the amount of effort put into the research.

And then we have 'expert surveys'. This is asking people like me, what do I think of some new idea which hasn't been tried yet, so there is no consumer data available. This is a total hit-and-miss methodology which is more dependent on luck than the results. What often IS valuable from such research is the commentary by experts on given aspects but the 'numbers' reported often, like 74% of mobile experts think... that is very wild in terms of reliability. I've been part of that, with my best underestanding and belief at the time, fully confident, promising location-based services would be huge (and they weren't). And that MMS would exceed SMS (and it didn't, and it won't). I was one of the planet's best experts on those topics at the time and I was massively off. Luckily for my career, I've been more right than wrong, but that is what happens when its totally new tech and nobody knows. Oh, and with my integrity haha, I did immediately tell the world when my mind was changed on LBS and MMS haha, and I made it clear, that this was a change to my opinion, not just releasing a new forecast with radically altered numbers haha, as some of my 'peers' might do.

So for the Chief Marketing Officer of a given giant corporation, they do know the differences of the quality of the data coming in, and will seek to get better quality data and use that ahead of the bad data.

When it comes to big data and databases and data warehouses and data-mining, here there is that disruption coming or already happening right now, where demographics data is becoming 'second rate' and soon will be discarded altogether. Here there are very many entrenched interests in big consumer market oriented companies, that will be having big internal debates of what to do and how to go forward. The data scientists have fought hard to get systems into place and they are now starting to yield some results, only to see they are suddenly tossed aside like a high-end Super VHS video recorder when recoradble DVD players become consumer gadgets... Beautiful technology highly refined, but now utterly outclassed by something inherently better. And the two are incompatible. The old has to be tossed.

On the data collection cost side. Maybe yes. But that depends very much on your company type. Take Seattle Sun Tan Salons. I wanted to include an SME company to this story for that very reason. If they added 6,000 new customers with their campaign, they do not have millions. Seattle only has a popolation of 650,000. So what can this specialist tanning booth salon possibly have? Not 100,000 probably closer to 10,000 or 20,000 customers. Lets be very generous and say its 30,000. You can easily do that on a basic database management software on a PC.

What does it cost to blast one SMS per month to 30,000 users? Commercial rate undiscounted SMS would cost then 3,000. MMS 10,000 dollars. This is with the assumption that everybody has opted in, and they most certainly won't be, so at worst your actual costs are half that. If you can generate 200,000 dollars of extra revenue out of one SMS, this is hugely profitable and totally measurable. And yes, some secretary has to then do updates to the client database adding the mobile numbers, and indicate which customers used the latest campaign offer, etc, but that is also normal professional marketing in a modern digital age. Not too expensive at all and not cumbersome, and no 'data scientist' competence is needed. 10,000 names you can still handle easily inside an Excel spreadsheet with a couple of dozen columns for the various data points per customer.

PS thanks for the update to the link to the story about Microsoft. Big smiles here...

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Thanks for the reply Tomi. I can see the trend you are laying out (I know some wives that, more and more, use coupons delivered over email and then show the email/coupon to the waitress when they are out for a meal to get their discount, they scan the codes on the phone screen). This is a very fascinating subject.

Your response about data reliability has me thinking about all the astroturfers attempting to "fake things" an example, consider the astroturfers on your blog continually posting the "wait for" nonsense about microsoft's eventual success in the face of the very stark reality of your (and other) reliable statistics that have been quoted for YEARS, along some honest discussion you find on the Internet untainted by microsoft advertizing.

The astroturfers are attempting to skew things. It is just outright deceit! Data scrubbing needs to account for unethical astroturfing in some way. Elections are just full of astroturfing and I had read that the vast majority of book reviews are another great example of faked data. The industry has to get a handle on these things or we are just running in place as one side tells the truth and the other side just lies to us to pollute the accumulated data. Even wikipedia examines the social impact of astroturfing.

I believe, if your informed and willing to investigate then astroturfing is easy to spot/call out in discussion groups. But, the harder problem is it is now hidden in the collected data. The uniformed don't do their homework and get a skewed version of reality....and sometimes mindlessly regirgutate the propaganda after they have been exposed to it for long periods of time thinking its the truth. To me this is nicely represented by the group of lazy uninformed people who got burned after buying a windows phone :-)

I couldn't help notice in the last election microsoft was on the losing side again, funny! ...just more proof of their irrelevance...and another reason to state that:



I swear I find it increasingly difficult to tell which is the fake baron99 and which is the real one.


It doesn't matter who is fake or real as long as they don't post microsoft propoganda or other nonsense and dutifully remind the readers that: ...everyone... "say it with me"...



That's probably the fake one. ;)


No this is the real one :-)

In other news is a reason NO ONE thought about as too WHY the iPad sells so well.'s partly because of its good utility and versitility :-)

Now everyone... "say it with me"...





That is old news. Microsoft has announced that there will not be another Windows Phone version.

Now there is Windows 10 Mobile. How about that?


Thanks Tomi, this is the best of the recent articles! I had no idea of the extend of Obama's second campaign, but boy, that's smart!

I've been wondering about the ad effectiveness myself, I don't anymore even see them when I browse internet pages (that and Adblock). It is only when I want to buy something when I start to pick them up. The same thing happened with local newspapers, I simply don't see the ads at all. They go by unregistered.

But I do believe the mobile advertising is a step to the right direction, as it currently works, I loathe marketing and ads - they never ever seem to offer anything interesting. Here, the telemarketers don't seem to doing as much spraying and praying as they used to, there seems to be a bit more focused effort. Not good enough yet, though. TV ads distract the viewing experience, and never before has it been as clear as now, when it's possible to stream the good shows without ads. I have been wondering about the productiveness of the ads if only thing the ads do is to anger the viewer.

I can surely believe that the more targeted ads, and especially those where the consumer actually gains (or feels that way) something in the offer and feels somebody has paid attention to him, will work much better. However, I don't like the intrusive feeling way Facebook is doing that. "Do you like these shows?" and then proceeds to suggest what I consider lowest common divisor shows - or worse, ice-hockey.

Then again, I feel that some of the best TV ads tend to be cheeky and funny. Not that it would entice me to buy a product, but the recent Grill advert here has been one of the funniest ones in recent times. By the way, the nanny state official in that commercial looks and dresses like you, Tomi! -- "We have seen that grilling may be fun, so the government has determined to outlaw it!" - theatretical close-up to the old man with tears in his eyes (For those abroad, the stereotypical Finnish man doesn't cry. So you know this gotta be serious.) And yes this is also a satire of our legislation in the recent twenty years :D


The best marketing is helping people finding what they want to buy. I know, there is no challenge in selling the best product for the lowest price, but that is what people want.

The only marketing campaign I have ever appreciated is Amazon's book suggestions "Other people who bought this title also bought....". I even have visited Amazon for this very feature.

The BMW campaign for winter tires (obligatory in Germany!) is in the same league.

Why have those $42B/year marketeers not come up with something good like that?


Considering that Tomi recently banned all discussion that might favor Microsoft, he would be perfect as as a representative of government that banned BBQ. :D

Try to take that with humor. And I hope that wasn't counted as a comment that favors MSFT.


@lullz ...good point. I need to update my tag line. Let's go with.


I appreciate your assistance

Now everyone... say it with me...



Not quite. I guess that there's lots of people who would like to have Windows on a phone - the full-fledged desktop OS I mean -, but nobody wants a crippled Windows on a phone - and that's all they have to offer with Windows Phone and now Windows 10 Mobile.


It looks like our microsoft astroturfers continue to shill for that crap called "windows". Now they imply we should "WAIT FOR" a "full-fledged" desktop. Too funny! Isn't it obvious who the astroturfers are! Do you astroturf much????? LoL! ...Even Barron's has given up on windows and calls it a "HAS BEEN operating system" Please enjoy the very recent reality Barron's article at;

Remember: ...say it with me. :-)


Don't you astroturfers ever get tired of the obvious shilling for Microsoft.


Shut up, moron!

Again everybody who disagrees with you is an astroturfer, yeah, that makes sense.
Seems your Microsoft hate is again clouding your judgment, not that it surprises me with you.

What's really sad is that Tomi allows a troll like you to post his stinking shit here without getting warned.

(Something more substantial in the next post because I have no expectations that this one lead to anything constructive.)


BTW, I like the astroturfer idea of full windows on a phone.... just like the reality of the Intel OS on a USB stick it will need AT LEAST 4X the resources and cost 50% more. I can see all the OEMS rolling their eyes. ...maybe you astroturfers should tell the OEMs to WAIT FOR MOORES LAW ..Too too funny! I think microsoft is probably dumb enough and desperate enough to finally do it and kill off all their mobile dreams ...or should I say nightmares.

Remember: ...say it with me. :-)


This truth really annoys the astroturfers :-)


So, nobody would want a full Windows on their phone? Why? Just because a pitiful troll like baron99 says so?

The people *I* talk to think differently, they constantly find that current mobile operating systems are too dumbed down, they are created for use on small screens and nothing else.
But that entire scenario will become moot once there's the possibility to dock a phone to a stationary workplace with typical desktop hardware like a printer, an external HD, a monitor, a mouse and a keyboard.

If that becomes reality - and it will - at least for now Microsoft is the only one who could offer something of use, neither Android nor iOS could be quickly expanded to serve a desktop environment - with Windows all they'd need to do is lift the restrictions in their ARM version.
And seriously, this is the only scenario how they could ever gain some modest success - if they try to play catch-up they'll lose, if they do not want to lose they need to offer something the competition does not.


For all you NON-astroturfers you can clearly see the astroturfing at work. Shamelessly shilling for microsoft - now we wait for the "full-fledged" windows (a brand new shinny "wait for" to add to my "wait for" list), the astroturfers employ the usual name calling and all their microsoft talking point propaganda. Just read the recent Barron's article for the truth about the "HAS BEEN" windows OS

Remember: ...say it with me. :-)



Here it is: phone that cannot send texts:

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