An obsession among marketers with what can be measured is leading to a dangerous artifice of certainty and a mistaken belief that martech provides magical solutions to brands’ problems.

That’s the view of Tricia Wang, who describes herself as a global tech ethnographer and co-founder of Sudden Compass. She told Nudgestock, Ogilvy’s annual behavioural science event (Folkstone, June 2019), that organisations are deploying big data tools in a period of “quantification bias”.

Measurement mania

This, she explained, is the unconscious valuing of the measurable over the immeasurable, with the effect that specialists in observing human behaviour – experts in their field who have hunches or who make observations that could inform powerful business strategy – are being silenced because their expertise doesn’t fit a mathematical model.

The business of marketing technology has become so complex and so opaque “that it just kind of feels magical”, Wang said.