DRTV Analytics and the Chocolate Chip Cookie


By: Jeffrey Fine

DRTV Analytics and Baking the Perfect Batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies. Hopefully one of these two subjects garnered your attention (we won’t ask which one). These seemingly disparate topics actually have many things in common.

Start with Quality Ingredients. The best batch of cookies begins with having the right ingredients – butter, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, chocolate. The better the ingredients, the better the final product. Analytics is the same way – the key ingredient being data! The better the data, the better the insights. Quality phone-call data, detailed web data, granular post-log airings data all help us deliver better insights to our clients.

Use the Best Tools Available. The more advanced the tools, the easier it is to deliver a superior product. It is much easier to bake with a digital scale, parchment paper, calibrated oven and commercial grade mixer. While everything may start with the data, analytics is fundamentally about the ability to manage, organize, summarize and glean insights from that information. Tapping industry-leading tools in data management, statistics, and dashboard development is critical to this objective.

There’s math involved. In baking cookies, it is important to understand things like the ratios of wet ingredients to dry ingredients or the optimal amount of chocolate chips per cookie. Want to triple a batch? There is math involved.  For analytics – well, obviously there is a whole lot of math there too!

Simpler can be better. Sometimes less is more.  A great cookie can be made with fewer than 10 ingredients.  A cookie with 20 ingredients may be overwhelming.  When analyzing data, less is often more, too. A simple visualization, like a 2-slide correlation, may deliver more insights than a table of 1,000 numbers. As they say, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Part Science. Baking cookies starts with science. What role does butter play? Should it be softened or cold? How are the eggs used? What is the difference between baking powder and baking soda?  TV analytics also begin with solid data science and statistics – managing data and understanding how the different pieces work together. A facet of analytics is often referred to as “Data Science,” the practice of extracting insights from large volumes of data. 

Part Art. Baking cookies calls for a little artistic ingenuity, too. What style of vanilla? Dark or semi-sweet chocolate? Should I add other (try sea salt!) flavorings? Likewise, analytics is very much an art form. We need to answer questions that have not been asked before. We need to build models that see through the complexities of the data. We need to create interesting dashboard visualizations that craft a story. Right brain thinking helps tremendously in these endeavors.

Different definitions of success. Chewy or crunchy? Sweet or Savory? Everyone has his or her own definition of what makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie. TV analytics is no different. It is common for two analysts to build two very different models on the same data set. Frequently the analysts on my team will design dashboards that look different from the ones I design. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to these types of questions. The same data can lead to insights that are equally good, but totally different at the same time.

Learn from successes and mistakes.  Finally, in both areas, there is always room for improvement.  Analyze what worked and what did not. Then, use that information to guide the process going forward. There is always new data to mine and new ingredients to test.

To learn more about how Eicoff approaches TV analytics, contact Sue Schell at 312.396.0322 or visit our contact page. Book a meeting and we just might bring some fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.