As I looked through the Wall Street Journal this morning I noticed the headline that said “Decline in Ad Spending Quickens Pace at 9.2%” and figured that this latest doom and gloom was not a surprise but certainly not welcomed either. Guess what though? If you read the article itself (how many of you really do that now, be honest) you will see that the headline screams one thing while the data may say another. Not a surprise when it comes to market research and the like. This one though was more troubling.
The article was about a report that TNS Media Intelligence, an ad-tracking firm owned by WPP PLC, released. Ok that’s fine but the data was about the 4th quarter of 2008. Last time I checked my calendar we are approaching the middle of Q2 ’09 so even numbers from Q1 ’09 are starting to look a little stale.
So why this late reporting of old news? Why the need to stir up more bad blood about the economy based on information that happened before we entered the “Audacity of Bailouts” era? It’s ‘reporting’ like this that makes people frustrated with mainstream media and market researchers. A quick glance at this headline and marketers may start to wonder if they should be cutting more. Anyone who reads the article, however, is likely to think that this is old information that doesn’t take into consideration anything that has happened in the past 4 months.
In our Internet age we need to be extremely cautious about what we take in as information. Market research is getting like milk. If it is past its expiration date consume it at your own risk. At least give it a smell before you dive in.
Oh the rest of the article? Talks of advertising cuts by auto manufacturers and financial services seem almost silly since we hadn’t even inaugurated the new President when this occurred. What seems more important now is how are they using my money tax dollars to move the needle forward now and what the environment for marketing and advertising is today.
As marketers we have to treat past results as no indication of future performance or opportunity like mutual fund investors are told to do. Living in the past and taking last year’s ‘results’ as today’s news is not smart. As always I caution, as marketing consumers, to carefully choose what ‘research’ we use to make any decisions.