Data Civilians. Monica Rigoti used that terrific term in a New York Times Big Data piece. And the term resonated. It’s common to think of Big Data in much the same ways as nuclear research. Everybody wants the bomb. Yet, data comes out of the ground in a raw ore. The ore has to be mixed different chemicals to create various salts. Then it has to be shoved into huge centrifuges. These enormous processes are used to separate the slightly heavier bits of data from the slightly lighter ones – a process that’s important if you don’t want to contaminate the earth with dirty bias. It has to be milled into a sphere or sometimes an ingot. And then surrounded[…]

Consider a list of metrics. Now pick the Y, the dependent variable, from that list. A human would use their judgement. A machine would use an algorithm. It’s clear that human judgement varies. There’s evidence that it does. Causing a machine to make accurate predictions about human judgement is an interesting problem because of the inherent variation of judgement within human populations. This is a polite way of saying that some people really diverge from the median in their application of judgement. Consider the following question: If given a table of Gross Profit, Sales, COGS, Marketing Spend, Working Dollars, Non-Working dollars, Discount Cost, Impressions, Paid Media Impressions, Paid Media CTR, UV, V, and PV, which is the dependent variable? The[…]

The dependent variable is the one that matters. You can’t explain why without Y.   Last week, I broadcasted 10 questions on Twitter and Facebook what they thought of dependent variables. It’s what 18 smart managers, researchers, developers, strategists, planners, data scientists, executives, eComm marketers, direct marketers, and department heads thought. I thank them for their time. Thank you. Take the n and the instrument for what it is – a dipstick check on just how aligned we are. Here’s what was found. H1 >=80% will state that Conversion is the Dependent Variable Confirmed. Conversion won every matchup it was in. Number of conversions won head to head against impressions and engagement; engagement and unique visitors; impressions and unique impressions.[…]

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