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Ask, Measure, Learn by Lutz Finger, Soumitra Dutta

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Chapter 8. Ask the Right Question

Once, a leader was the person who could convince others to act in the absence of data. Today, the leader is the person who can ask the right questions.

You have data and you have metrics based on this data. But neither will help you to get the value of data if you do not have the right question. Let’s look at a typical example of a metric: views on YouTube. What do millions of views on one YouTube video mean?

  • It could mean a hit music song at the top of the charts. For example, Justin Bieber’s Baby was the most-watched video on YouTube as of late 2012, with over 800 million views, and was a triple-platinum hit, selling over 3 million digital downloads.

  • It could mean a successful product. After Utah dentist Dr. Bob Wagstaff tried and failed to market his Orabrush tongue brush through traditional advertising, a series of quirky YouTube videos about how it cured bad breath helped it launch as a successful online product and later gain national distribution in chain stores. Today Orabrush has sold over two and a half million units, and its videos have been watched more than 50 million times.[155]

  • But it could also mean very little. The music video “United Breaks Guitars,” a song detailing Canadian musician Dave Carroll’s failed attempts to get compensation from United Airlines when baggage handlers damaged his expensive guitar, was a runaway viral hit with over 10 million views and a major public relations disaster for United, ...

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