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The USA Today Ad Meter is Meaningless

Posted by Dan Neely on February 7th, 2013 at 8:24 am

The live polling that USA Today performs annually with focus groups has proven itself meaningless. This year GoDaddy.com’s “Perfect Match” advertisement scored dead last on the newspaper’s Ad Meter meanwhile the company posted record sales for a Monday following a Super Bowl commercial. What is USA Today missing?

USA Today’s Ad Meter needs to be brought into the 21st century. Traditionally, they have focused on a small sample group of viewers to gauge ad performance. This year, in an attempt to update their analysis they opened up that sample group to viewers that registered on their online portal. It was likely an attempt to get a better read of consumer reactions, but with more than 8,000 participants, they still missed the mark.

The inherent flaw in their analysis—the same one they’ve had since the Ad Meter was first published in 1989—is in the way they measure advertisement success. Knowing whether a person “liked” or “disliked” an ad is no way to gauge if it got the job done for the advertiser. USA Today needs to go deeper to understand the winners and losers.

In Networked Insights’ analysis of the Super Bowl ads and celebrities, social data insights revealed a different viewpoint. GoDaddy.com was the #1 most discussed brand during Sunday’s big game. Despite a significant negative reaction from viewers, the data highlights a key to success when it comes to Super Bowl advertising, that controversy pays huge dividends.

It is time we move past antiquated means of collecting consumer information and start utilizing real-time data to uncover more reliable insights. Social data has characteristics that can no longer be ignored. Everyday this unbiased data source grows exponentially and the topics it covers are practically limitless.

Networked Insights is fortunate to work with innovative brands that want to use real-time consumer data from the social web to inform strategic marketing decisions. The reason is simple, traditional research can’t keep pace with the speed of today’s consumer. Progressive marketing professionals are looking for real-time trends and insights they can capitalize on. Perhaps most importantly, they’re looking for accurate information that is available when they need it – when it’s time to make a major decision.

Having the right information is critical to effective marketing. Taking your cues from USA Today’s Ad Meter is proving to be a risky proposition in the digital age. It’s time the unfiltered, boundless voice of the consumer – as expressed across the social web – rule the day. Marrying insights from social data with brand marketing intuition is a fierce combination that de-risks decisions and inspires more consumer-centric advertising.

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