According to published reports, brand marketers aren’t at all thrilled with the reaction their ads are receiving on Facebook Timeline.

Such things as awareness, recognition, likeability and other objectives that make most marketers’ mouths water are far higher on the ORIGINAL FB than on its new cousin. To which I respond, “And, this matters because?”

It goes without saying that chief marketing officers (CMO’s) and their C-Suite siblings, chief communications officers (CCOs) are absolutely enamored by data. So, when they hear a new shiny object, such as FB Timeline, is underperforming, they freak out.

That’s understandable since the average CMO’s tenure makes that of a May Fly seem Methuselah-like in comparison. It also makes sense in light of the recent findings of an IBM Global Consulting survey of 1,700 chief marketing officers. According to IBM, the average CMO’s number one pain point is too MUCH data. So, while they love statistics, trends and reports, marketers also hate them. Sounds like many marriages, no?

Whether it’s Facebook Timeline, a 30-second spot or, in the CCO’s case, a survey of 800 consumers, I believe CMO’s and CCO’s are TOO reliant on data. Quantitative data, that is.

Too few CMO’s and CCO’s ever take the time to step outside their insular worlds and experience the organization from an audience member’s perspective. That’s where true insights are gleaned.

Quantifiable data from the yes and no questions of traditional market research only provide answers to the who, what, when, and where questions that companies think to ask. No doubt that is useful up to a point. But taking one-on-one quality time to observe some of the actual human beings as they receive all your marketing genius, and observing what they do, and listening to their deeper answers to the critical why and how questions, is both more efficient and more revealing than relying on quantitative data alone. This going-the-extra-mile, pro-active approach to listening to your audiences effectively opens up the windows and doors of the insular corporate world and lets in fresh air and sunshine from the outside. In the process, it provides any number of eureka moments for data-overloaded executives that they could not get at in any other way.

If a brand manager or marketer had taken the quality time to experience FB Timeline alongside some consumers –in their own spaces and in real-time, not in a focus group — and delve into the hows and whys of their actions and reactions, she probably would have known in advance that it simply didn’t stop anyone, much less improve favorability and all that other jazz.

Give me one hour (or two) to ask why and how questions of a few members of your most important audiences and I bet I’ll unearth some rich insights that all of your incredibly expensive and incredibly dense quantitative data will not. In the meantime, stay away from FB Timeline. Its time, clearly, has not come.

By Steve Cody
Co-founder and Managing Partner