The amount of information and content that the average consumer receives online and on our phones today dwarfs previous generations—and you’d be hard pressed to find any marketing expert that anticipates this trend abating.
In fact, it was estimated that about $107 billion was spent in America alone in 2018 on digital advertising. For campaigns last cycle, that amount is estimated to be between $900 million and $1.8 billion. This is clearly a big range. But it’s a tough number to pin down based on the way expenditures are reported. For comparison, in 2014 digital spending was estimated at about $250 million.
The challenge in the political world is how to measure what’s being done and the effectiveness of that effort. Digital consultants have their metrics such as impressions, clicks, et cetera. But are there other ways to understand the reach and effects of the money being spent?
We have been tracking opinions over the course of Kavanaugh’s rocky journey to the Supreme Court. Through Trendency, an online research platform that gathers responses from representative panels of registered voters across the country, we have amassed a longitudinal dataset that allows us to detect small movements and changes in opinion over time as different events occur. One of the ways that our data is different from traditional research is that we do not force our respondents into a yes or no question set, but allow them to indicated how much they support both of these positions.
By now we all know the adage, modern data analysis is like drinking from a firehose. However, we might argue it’s more like standing under a waterfall. Through the data we collect is abundant, our human capacity to take it in and analyze it is limited. Given the abundance of data, it is increasingly difficult to tell where to look to find interesting insights and useful analysis. While this challenge is one that is likely to continue to grow exponentially, many of us are trying to develop tools to help tackle this problem. Our newest: volatility scores.
Too often, researchers are leaving data on the table when they survey respondents. Typically, when a researcher wants a respondent’s take on an issue, the respondent is unfairly asked to cram their thinking into a few preselected options (do you agree or disagree, do you support or oppose, etc.). The problem with this approach is that opinions are not so simple. Asking respondents to sort themselves into predetermined static choices oversimplifies data before the researcher ever gets their hands on it. Respondents have a whole lot more than just what side they take on an issue to share; they also know the degree to which they believe their stated opinions. Collecting and analyzing that data is interesting, insightful, and increasingly necessary.
This is where Trendency comes in.
Our world is changing around us all the time. This is not exactly a profound statement or news to anyone reading this, but what is new for all of us is the speed at which these changes are happening. We see some organizations excelling in this fast-changing world, while others have issues keeping up. Starbucks is a prime example of this phenomenon, their reaction was viewed as slow, but their recovery was received with general praise. This new world we live in is not only affecting organizations externally but internally as well. There is no denying that the workplace is shifting and the relationship between employees and employers is changing rapidly. Some companies are adjusting to the times, others…not so much.
Republican or Democrat, local county commissioner or state-wide office, it's arguably the most poll-tested and common stump speech one-liner, "I'm running for office because we are headed in the wrong direction!". It’s not a bad argument, in theory, since Americans have felt that things have been on the wrong track since the early 1970’s with only a handful of exceptions. A few years ago, an article in Daily Beast took a deeper look at the right direction/wrong track question and walks through how consistent this feeling tends to be.
Whether or not you agree, it does raise a few interesting questions about what's driving negativity among Americans. These significant peaks (both positive and negative) are often driven by only a handful of global events over the last four decades. But what's happening in between those events? What's driving individuals to feel that we are on the right track or wrong track? Or, given the consistency of the wrong track feeling, are we just pessimistic people by nature?
Ok – maybe it's not all Zuck's fault. But blame aside, the digital information era is here and has been for some time. The impact of these changes will be studied by future generations for decades to come, but we already know that there has been a paradigm shift on how we communicate, interact, and share information; fundamentally changing or solidifying our perspective on issues, stories, or people in a manner of moments.
Trying to keep up is exhausting. And unfortunately for all of us, it also happens to be the difference between being ahead of the curve and looking brilliant or sitting behind the eight ball and trying to explain how you missed the signs to your board, clients, investors, employees, or boss.