Recent Blog Posts > On the dangers of observation.
Dan Cobley, marketing director, Google, believes there are similarities between physics and marketing (see his Ted video below which Martin Bishop has summarized on his blog, “Brand Mix”).
I love Dan’s use of Newton’s Law to explain why it is difficult to shift perceptions of big brands, but I think his conclusion based on Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is wrong. Relying on observation alone can be just as misleading as relying on questions.
According to Dan, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that it is impossible to measure the exact state of a particle because the act of measuring changes it.
Dan suggests the marketing equivalent is that the act of observing consumers changes the way they behave. He recommends that we try to measure what consumers actually do, rather than what they say they’ll do.
I am reasonably sure that the Heisenberg lack of precision arises when trying to measure two related properties. The more accurately you measure one, the less accurately you can measure the other. Now that is true in marketing. Think of all the hoops statisticians put themselves through trying to deal with collinearity in a time series model.