Beware of the giraffes in your data

Once the analyst drills down and removes the giraffe from the data (the registered users), he sees a view of the data that is much more revealing as to the visitors’ areas of interest. Specifically, we see in the following heatmap a dozen red areas instead of only one. By separating out just one portion of the data (the registered users), the analyst uncovers the important information that will lead him to better decisions about how to improve the website.


Marketers and analysts are always on the lookout for exciting new insights which can translate into action items and provide strategic advantage, but they often miss them. They can even make the wrong decisions – because they fail to account for the “giraffe effect” in their data.

Giraffes are what I call portions of data which dominate the rest of the data – and hide important insights. Sometimes they even lead to wrong conclusions. For example a gaming company client looking for the highest value customers thought the data said it should market to men, when women spent twice as much as those with a Y chromosome. How could the data lie?

The truth is, it didn’t. The company was just distracted by a giraffe.

The giraffe, the fox, the cat and the mouse

Let’s say you’re out watching animals in a nature reserve. Undoubtedly, when you spot a majestic…

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