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Why Cake and Data Layering are More Similar Than You Think

Author: SMI Team

Not too long ago, a friend of mine remarked “this right here is the truth” at their slice of decadent cake, an expression of just how satisfied their taste buds were with the multi-layered masterpiece in front of them.

Well, the same goes for data.

Real and unadulterated data is the closest source to the truth when answering the basics, such as the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ on any given subject. Finite numbers in the form of currency, counts or percentages are the first layer in the foundation of fulfilling curiosity.

With the growing number of data-related resources available, decision-makers have numerous data at their disposal for the pure mission of getting closer to the truth and uncover a multitude of past and even predictive information.

All this access to data is wonderful – and is explored in a recent post ‘The media industry’s answer to ‘Big Data’‘ – but it can be limited at times and have the potential to do more, which leads to the question of “how do I make the most of this information?”

The SMI client engagement team sits at the front seat of the crystal ball when it comes to knowing where advertisers are putting their dollars. We are constantly looking at our data in tandem with other relevant data sets to bring it fully to life, revealing as actionable insights as possible.


One example of how data can be layered for extra (and valuable) insight is through ‘power ratios’, which we undertake for one of our major cable network clients.

To do this, we combine our ad spend data with audience ratings to deliver some great insights on audience monetization, ranking and trends. A Power Ratio effectively measures a media company’s advertising revenue in comparison to the audience share it controls. It shows how much revenue a media company earns compared to how much it should earn given its market share.

Here’s an example of what a power ratio calculation looks like:

Company Revenue Share / Audience Share =

(Company Revenue/Total Market Revenue) / (Company Audience/ Total Market Audience)

  • If PR > 1 = a greater amount of revenue received from the company’s audience share
  • If PR < 1 = the company is not efficiently monetizing its audience share.


Combining data and technology to uncover truths is not only limited to the media and marketing sectors. In thinking about this piece, I stumbled upon a neat project by Duke University and the North Carolina Museum of Art, see more in this Times piece.

Bringing together art curators and mathematicians, the museum and university project layered talent and expertise together to find new ways to not only conserve masterpieces but to dive deeper into their history and truly demonstrate the combined synergy of the disciplines.

In our experience, being proactive and open about combining different data sets can be much more revealing than a single set and lead you to uncover a thought you may have easily missed.

Just like a delicious mouth-watering layered cake… it brings the truth!

Do you have any of your own data-layering examples?

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