This morning’s (Wednesday 7.5) New York Times carries a David
Carr Leonhardt column on Battelle’s meme of the “database of intentions.” In that column, Hal Varian, probably the smartest media and content economist in the country, predicts that online metrics are about to do to advertising what the spreadsheet did to corporate finance in the 80s. I wholeheartedly agree. The precision of the medium and its measurements will drive online advertising to the top of any marketer’s bag of tricks over the next two years. While this promise has been held since 1995, it’s coming into fruition now thanks to easily accessible tools such as Google Trends, and high end metric services such as Omniture, Coremetrics, and Hitbox.
“Hal R. Varian, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who advises Google, predicts that online metrics like this one have put Madison Avenue on the verge of a quantitative revolution, similar to the one Wall Street went through in the 1970’s when it began parsing market data much more finely. “People have hunches, people have prejudices, people have ideas,” said Mr. Varian, who also writes for this newspaper about once a month. “Once you have data, you can test them out and make informed decisions going forward.”