Thursday, April 17, 2008

Data Representation/Visualization

Data can be seen in many forms but how easy it is to interpret to make business decisions is the key. A CEO or CMO cannot be presented to look at 100s or 1,000s of rows of data in excel or a SAS output which even analysts find it hard to read.

Not even CEO or CMO, presenting data (1,000s of rows) to someone who is not playing with the data on a day to day basis is not fair.

One would then argue oh! I will summarize the data and bring it down to a table. My thought would be great, but there is something called Data Visualization. Let's take an example, below is a table showing spend and revenue. The ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) in the table is defined as Revenue/Spend.

This shows the data but it is not very easy to visualize in a table. Now, look at the charts below.

This chart shows the % spend by site and the % revenue generated due to advertising at each of those sites. It is very easy to visualize that MSN was the most efficient site in terms of generating revenue. MySpace had the lowest efficiency.

The chart below is another way of showing the spend efficiency by site.
Aren't the two charts a better way to look at the data?

1 comment:

Ben Kunz said...

Excellent post. The challenge I see is that business people who are very strong in numbers often aren't good at visual media -- charts, graphs, PowerPoint. And the artists who are good at visuals often don't understand the key points of the data.

Hard to find the guru who can sit on that knife's edge. Time for me to go re-read Edward Tufte.