This headline reminds me of the old principle that I emphasise:
Money is the final metric
If our metrics don’t directly correlate to, or convert into money1 in the near term, then they are not the correct metrics.
Too many metrics, in my experience, are designed for being:
- easy to measure (or easily available),
- easy to improve, and
- comfortable to explain
What they are not designed for: being strongly correlated with current or future supply of money.
For growth, revenue (total, unit, net unit) is the best metric.
Views of our videos2 can be good metrics if they convert directly into money:
– product sales show a direct correlation, or
– advertisers accept them as proxy for ad views, or
– investors require them as a valuation input for the next raise
Views of our videos are a bad metric when they aren’t directly impacting revenue. If sales aren’t growing in proportion with the views, then counting views is of no relevance to the health of the business.
The availability bias trip-wire
The availability heuristic operates on the notion that if something can be recalled, it must be important, or at least more important than alternative solutions which are not as readily recalled.
Most online advertising platforms understand this well, and use it to hook their customers (advertisers). If they show us good3, clean and easily accessible metrics of their choice, we will give those metrics more weight than they deserve.
The views count is right there – in the analytics dashboard. While finding the correct metric that actually correlates with sales, and then tracking it, can be hard.
This also ties in the second part of the hook. The view count number is also easily movable. Spend some money on advertisements, the view count will go up. Voila! View counts – a metric that is easy to measure, and easy to improve!
Those money-correlated metrics, they are even harder to improve than they are to discover and track. Oh look, the views went up again!
We all have heard of ‘Our viewer/user/visitor numbers were amazing, but the money ran out before…’
This is why the money ran out. Because we chose the easy metric, over the metric that really matters – money.