The day that Google couldn’t save

Holding the warm cup of tea in my hands, I try desperately to survive the cold in the meeting room. The notepad in front of me is full of scribbles that I can barely read. I have a bad handwriting under pressure.

The girls in front of me have spent the last two hours running me through the slides of the presentation I built for them a few days ago. They have changed the layout, added one or two slides and carefully built a few transition effects. Naturally they have made sure to take full ownership of my work.

‘We definitely need to caveat this’, one of them says.

Caveat. A word is used so often now that it almost tastes of sick. Nevertheless I move my hand away from the comfortable warmth of the cup and seize the pen next to me.

‘What do you want on the slide’ I ask.

‘We need to caveat it’, she repeats.

I take a long look at the slide again. It’s a slide they added themselves. It demonstrates the expected performance in paid advertising for the client. In principle it seems sound. In practice, everybody in the room knows that the graph on the slide is a work of fiction.

‘How do you want to caveat it’ I ask, half curious half scared in advance at the prospect of an idiotic answer.

‘We need to indicate to the client that we can’t promise a conversion rate of 4.38%’.

‘Indeed we can’t. I don’t even know how we calculated it’, I reply.

‘We benchmarked it against existing case studies.’

‘We don’t have relevant case studies for this client’ I interject.

I am getting tired of this.

‘This is why we need to caveat it’, she concludes with the smile of someone who has just won a battle.

Inwardly, I am crying tears of despair.

‘Also it is really important that we justify everything with the right benchmark data’, the other one adds.

‘What would be the benchmark data for this?’

‘I think it would be interesting to benchmark their performance against their competitors, especially their conversion rate’, she explains.

‘I agree completely. Do you have access to the competitors’ data? Because I don’t’, I ask, sarcastically.

‘We can use industry benchmarks.’

I look blankly back, wondering what they could possibly mean.

‘Can you search on Google’, they suggest.

‘I doubt competitors publish their metrics online’, I sigh.