Your Opinion is Worthless: Why Numbers Matter

It's easy to forget that we are just one amongst many

You and I always make the mistake of thinking that our opinion is representative of everyone else’s. I think this sucks, and therefore, nobody in their right mind could possibly enjoy this. Thanks to the internet, everyone is suddenly a righteously indignant critic.

The problem is that the internet is an echo chamber. With good reason; we only visit sites that we want to visit. If I love Sarah Palin, am I have going to have Huffington Post in my RSS feed? No, because I wouldn’t even know what the Huffington Post is to begin with.

This thinking reduces an infinite internet into something very, very finite: your own narrow point of view, made even narrower by biases and experience. This is incredibly dangerous for anyone, especially if you’re a marketer. The world shrinks to your own prejudices, preventing you from seeing trends, shifting demographics and understanding the big picture. The only way to combat this restrictive mindset is to constantly shock it with something objective and powerful: the jarring reality of numbers.

Let’s examine a few things that are commonly believed to “suck” or to be things that “no one cares about” — as well as the astonishing numbers behind them.

1. Farmville

Farmville“That farming game” on Facebook…only people with no lives play that, right? Who the hell would want to click on animated farm to collect virtual crops?

To answer this question, we need to take a moment to imagine every single person in the 8-million-strong city of New York. They’re riding packed subway cars, they’re watching the Yankees play and they’re jogging around Central Park. Now imagine that all of those people will play Farmville at least once in the next 24 hours.

Now, imagine every single person in the city of London doing the exact same thing.

This is roughly how many people play Farmville every day. Who wants to collect their virtual crops? 15 million people do. Every single day.

For a quick reality check: go to Farmville on Facebook and check out how many of your friends already play.

2. The Twilight movies

TwilightThe successful Twilight film series is perhaps best known for capturing two lucrative demographics: tweens and undersexed American housewives. It is also known for being critically panned. Despite critics’ vitriol, the series has amassed 1.8 billion dollars at the box office.

If we compare that to Oscar-winning movies — movies that “don’t suck” by anyone’s measure — you would have to sum the box offices receipts of the last 7 Oscar winners to surpass Twilight’s total.

3. Non-English-speaking entertainment

Who is TVXQ?If we evicted everybody in the city of Seattle to house the fans of Asian mega-group TVXQ, we would have a dramatic housing shortage.

You think the Backstreet Boys or New Kids on the Block were popular? TVXQ holds the Guinness world record for world’s biggest fan club with 800,000+ members. TVXQ also holds the Guinness world record for “most photographed celebrity of all time”, having been photographed half a billion times.

There are gigantic entertainment ecosystems elsewhere in the world that we don’t explore because of our Western ethnocentrism. The people that realize this first can study their successes and get a headstart over everyone who had their blinders on.

4. Kidz Bop

Kidz Bop 14 (Yes, 14.)Have you seen those ads where kids sing karaoke to a popular song? That’s an ad for Kidz Bop, one of the best-kept secrets in the music industry.

The formula is simple: obtain distribution rights to pop songs, hire some singing children then sell the CD for an insane markup. The producers of Kidz Bop have been riding this formula to the tune of 8 Gold certifications in 11 years, along with a handful of top 5 showings in the Billboard 200.

I abhor this business model, as it completely strips away every semblance of artistry in a song and reduces it to its commercial core. I am certain that I am not alone. I am also certain that whenever the producers hear criticism, they simply recall of 50 Cent’s timeless phrase:

If they go’n hate, then let them hate, and watch the money pile up.
- Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson

Why numbers matter

  • Everyone lives in their own echo chamber. For marketers, this means we get lots of practice reading about marketing, writing about marketing, thinking about marketing, and discussing marketing…with other marketers. At the end of the day, who are you selling to? Is it possible to communicate effectively to an audience that you never even knew existed?
  • Preventing blindness to opportunities. Just because you personally dislike or do not understand something does not mean it will be a failure. Imagine if you invested in Farmville when “only” 2 million people played it every day.
  • The forest, not the trees. As a marketer in these times, keeping cognizant of the big picture is the name of the game. For example; you may personally love using Twitter; but if your target market isn’t…is it really worth your time?

Pic thanks to TheBigTouffe

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  • http://www.campuscommandos.com Adam Grant

    Great article. I have also seen this trend pop up on Facebook with its fair share of people saying “thats stupid.”

    You’ve probably seen on Facebook a lot of trends like Celebrity Doppenganger Week, Yearbook Yourself, and most recently people changing their profile photo to cartoon characters. Once these trends catch on EVERYONE does it. They spread like wildfire. It seems, though, that no one has tried to leverage these trends for business.

  • Elizabeth Beadon

     Really interesting article. I’d never thought about it like this. I guess these products (e.g., Farmville, Twilight, etc.) are further demonstrations of how niche products can mean big business like Apple and Moleskine. 

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