Numbers and Words

As a response marketer, I’ve been up to my ears in numbers since I got into the business. Math has become so important to what I do  that I went back to school to ladle on more.

That’s why I’m particularly attuned to what people do with numbers. If you read my last post you know I don’t agree with Rio Longacre. Our philosophical and executional differences aside, his post provides a beautiful illustration of what happens when you take the easier way out with numbers.

I’m a big believer in stating one’s biases upfront. Here’s one: when speaking Continue reading


What Sonny and Cher Can Tell Us About Relative Inequality

Isn’t the Internet wondrous? I mean, finally, a tool to aid in communication by providing an almost friction-free forum for exchanging ideas and working towards the  truth. (Let’s leave the arguments about truth aside for today, please.) Nowadays magazines all seem to have blogs and posts all have nifty discussion or comment boxes at the bottom like the one shown at right. Continue reading

Corroboration: An OWS Follow-Up

A quick follow-up to last month’s OWS post. You may recall I speculated the 99% might be a little bit short when it comes to including the lower half of the income distribution. Well, over at The Atlantic Megan McArdle has a post about a neat little bit of data sleuthing done by the Daily Caller.

Using reasoning that any marketer would be proud of  (in its simplest form the same logic provides the basis for every clustering and profiling scheme I’ve ever seen),  DC looked up the addresses of the folks arrested at the orignal, New York outpost. And surprise, the median value of the homes at those addresses is about 2/3 higher than the national figure. Not surprising.

The whole post is worth a read because it takes on a lot of shibboleths about modern urban living. I just enjoy when the data backs up intuition.

The Ambient Nature of Facebook

It must be something in the water. Every time I encounter ‘business’ writing that makes sense  I invariably discover the writer is a Brit. Since I’m by no stretch an Anglophile that makes it all the more puzzling. So  something else must be happening. More likely than not whatever’s at hand serves  as a sane middle ground between the hyperkinetic American style and the  ramblings of Bernard Henri-Lévy disciples that seem to thrive on the Continent.

That brings me to my latest find, a post by Bryan Urbick, founder of Consumer Knowledge Continue reading

Who’s Missing? Pew Study Indicates Gaps in the Social Media Landscape

I’ve been spending some time with a recent report from the Pew Internet & American Life project. For those not in the know, the Pew Research Center conducts and publishes social research; the Interet & American life project is just one  of their efforts.  Since Pew’s funding is  secure the work they do is methodologically sound, beautiful even–unlike some of what gets reported in the business press. In fact, the execution is so close to perfect  it’s a pity so many Pew reports only warrant mention of a fact or two from the Executive Summary.

This past June Pew issued an 85-page report entitled Social networking sites and our lives. It Continue reading

Should Editors Understand Basic Math?

A silly question, isn’t it? How do you decide what to print, what to cut, how to summarize without understanding what the numbers mean? In the late 1980s John Allen Paulos published Innumeracy (brief review here) to warn about the degradation of mathematical knowledge. A couple of decades on it could be worse.

The nearby, slightly oversized image is a screen shot of a portion of  The Atlantic’s home page. Obviously meant to grab our attention, the teaser text claims that in light of the New Continue reading

Of Brands and Bubbles

The Brand Bubble: The Looming Crisis in Brand Value and How to Avoid It
John Gerzema and Ed Lebar

Book titles are like product names. They catch the eye and grab the imagination. That’s probably as good an explanation as any for why so much reading results in so much disappointment.

I desperately wanted to like this book. If you’re educated as a researcher and analyst (as I am) and if you conceive of yourself as a quantitative marketer (as I do), then you may share my fascination with brands. The triumphant brand story is a staple of the marketing world and if you’re driven by hard Continue reading

Politics and Markets: The Myth of the Rational Voter

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies
Bryan Caplan

When Messner Vetere won the MCI business the trades reported that their pitch revolved around casting the long distance business as a daily election. Having spent some time as a consultant for AT&T I could buy that analogy as long as we’re talking about an election where votes can be bought. The efficacy of advertising aside, the game of getting people to switch is all about delivering a bribe and by the time I touched the business in the early 90s the Continue reading

A Word of Praise

Yup, praise. By now you probably thought I was incapable of that aside from a little crumb dropped here or there in the course of tilting at windmills. Tilting is what we do here at AHC and–there’s really no way around this–critical thinking involves criticism. It’s not critical thinking when everyone Continue reading

Insight or Cognitive Bias?

Richard Florida has created quite a brand for himself with the notion that there is a creative class and that the presence of such is the source of all things good in a virtuous circle. While I see the appeal of this argument to a certain type of ‘knowledge worker’ it has always struck me as somewhat tautological. Worse,  it has also always struck me as self-serving and elitist in a way that is somehow more insulting than economic definitions of elitism.

Now Dr.Florida has weighed in on the upcoming elections with an analysis over at The Atlantic. Continue reading