Einstein was an “average” data analyst, with tendency to make trivial arithmetic mistakes and some clumsiness in data recording.

How much time do you dedicate to making sure you have checked and looked under every stone – piece of data available? Or are you just taking what you can gleem from the surface and running?

Recently I bought some TV advertising in Houston. It was a standard cable buy, nothing fancy, just :30 second spots up and down the spectrum to build awareness about an upcoming event. It was not a large buy about 10 spots a day from the Weather Channel to What About Raymond and everything in between. I had negotiated to be in the filler and extra spot rotation as well – something one should always get in writing. This turned out to be a fairly lack luster campaign, essentially a failure. event sales stayed about the same with no real growth. I checked every day sales vs. times of spot rotations vs. web site traffic vs. call volume leads and nothing was showing an increase. It was a failure.

Or was it?

Taking one last look at the data, I discovered something interesting. It seemed we had more in sales on the Monday and Tuesday after the last weekend spot had aired, 300% more! Taken as a whole over the week it was insignificant, but when I dove down just one step deeper I discovered that this Saturday and Sunday advertisement just might have been the tipping point. 

On each weekend day the cable had run the free rotator ad insertion on ESPN and FOX SPORTS – just 1 advertisement on each day vs. 10 on other channels.

Essentially what I discovered was that by buying just weekends, and just sports, I could see a dramatic growth in sales, and lower my costs by only having to buy TV on weekends. I tested my theory in Atlanta. Event attendance is usually between 300-400 but is currently on pace for 1000. In one week alone with a synergized email, radio and TV push there were over 150 sales, almost half of the total attendance from the previous year in just one week!

So are you an average data analyst?

ALWAYS dig one step deeper – the numbers can often times reveal more than meets the eye.


* Image quote from From Iglewicz, B., (2007) “Einstein’s First Published Paper,” The American Statistician, Vol. 61, No. 4, 339-342. – thanks to Bruce Ratner.