Label Surveys As Well As Data

It was with great interest I read of the new “data transparency label.” This label is being released for comment by several of the media alphabet associations – the AMA, ARF, and CIMM.

data transparency label example

datalabel.org

In the manner of the nutrition labels mandated by the FDA, these labels are hoped to increase clarification about the torrent of data being aimed at big data applications in media, particularly advertising targeting. Adopting a very brief but standard reporting structure, the labels will give users of data a high-level assessment of the quality of the numbers being injected into their algorithmic black boxes. (And by the way, notice there is no equivalent transparency effort about those black boxes; but that’s another story.)

Survey Nutrition Too?

This is important news in that corner of the research, data, and analytics world. What would I like to see? An equivalent nutrition label for publicly released surveys, perhaps sponsored by the Insights Association (the 2017 amalgamation of CASRO and the MRA). The label would provide a required minimal level of information to release with research conducted by its members. This would include items such as:

  • Who paid or sponsored the poll
  • A description of the sample
  • Mode of collection
  • Probability or non-probability sample
  • Dates for fielding
  • Standard error for probability samples, or some “equivalent” for non-probability samples

This information should be enough to quickly evaluate the bias and relative level of quality of a publicly released survey. In fact, some of this information may already be required, but in reality is rarely available in press articles or from the entity releasing the survey.

Too Busy to Process

The Press is too inundated with press releases and too busy filling a 24/7 demand for content to bother to evaluate PR surveys anymore (read MediaPost‘s disclaimer on their Research Intelligencer newsletter). It’s all just grist for the content mill. But maybe with a very simple label, they will be tempted to think once in a while. At the least, we could do the thinking with the right information.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Read his new book, “The Genius Box” – details here
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