What Scanner-Panel Data Tell Us about Advertising: A Detective Story with a Dark Twist

Scott Koslow

Waikato Management School, University of Waikato

Gerard J. Tellis

Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California

INTRODUCTION

Round up the usual suspects.

—Casablanca

Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

—Chinatown

Scanner-panel data and advertising have long had an uneasy relationship. If they were characters in a film noir movie, advertising would be the beautiful, young femme fatale being investigated by the cynical, hard-boiled detective of scanner-panel data. Although the early years of scanner-panel data seemed to suggest that advertising clearly was an unfaithful wife of the brand—with hardly an advertising effect to be found—more recent evidence shows something more complex. Rather than being a fully objective private eye, scanner-panel data’s character flaws make them certainly as complex a character as advertising itself.