The first 88 days of Digital Pulse

88 days ago, Chinwag launched the Digital Pulse, a confidence index for the digital industry.

Why did we do it? What's happened so far?

Early days...

One coffee-fuelled morning at Chinwag Towers, the question was asked, "How do we measure how well the industry is doing?". After much debate, scratching of heads and some number-crunching wizardry (not mine), the Digital Pulse was born.

Confidence is a strange beast. Ask someone how they're feeling about their job/industry/company or the 3:30 at Kempton and you're pretty much guaranteed a wide range of responses. But how do you take this information and build it into a measurement that means something?

The concept was simple: figure out a way to gauge the industry's confidence using a simple monthly survey. The methodology was based on Consumer Confidence Index (more on Wikipedia, stats geeks) used by economists across the world to write bold headlines in the financial press about the state of the economy.

So, each month we're running the Digital Pulse survey, it takes about 25 seconds - honest, we've timed it - to complete and provides really valuable data. As an incentive for your time, we're donating 25p for each completed survey to WWF (pandas not wrestlers).

Take the Digital Pulse Survey NOW!

What's an index?

The Digital Pulse for April 2008 is 125.5. But, what does this mean?

For those not versed in indices (the correct plural, although please forgive me if I occasionally called them indexes, somehow it sounds nicer), an index can be anywhere between 0 and 200. To give some perspective:

  • 0 = "Oh no. It's a disaster. Everything's going to hell. Run for your life"
  • 200 = "Brimming with confidence, nothing's gonna stop us, on top of the world"
  • 100 = a Gallic shrug of the shoulders as if to say, "whatever", neither good nor bad

Responses to the survey (did we mention the survey? why not take it now ;-)) are collected from people working in the digital industry, encompassing agency-land, consultants, client-side digital types, developers, creatives and all stops in-between. In summary, anyone whose day job involves dabbling with digital.


Deirdre's also written a great summary of the results on her blog and if you want my take on it, check out the conclusions of March's analysis.

If you're asking, "why this information is useful?". Well done! Great question, glad you asked.

The Digital Pulse aims to track confidence, which we think is handy for business development planning, company strategy and planning, as well as adding context to news stories.

The future confidence, looking 6 months into the future, also gives a useful gauge of the industry's view of the near-term future. Handy if you're having to make a decision on where to devote time and resources.

Number crunching

The indices are calculated using some dead clever maths by our analyst, Amy who adds everything together and then creates a weighted mean to produce the full index.

As the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed, the index for April is actually higher than the one for March, but confidence has fallen slightly, by 2.5%. How so?

One of the questions used to predict future confidence, was the wrong way around i.e. if people less confident it would actually make the overall index indicate the opposite. Fortunately, with some mathematical magic we're able to adjust the figures so although the index looks different, we can compare them on a like-for-like basis.

The next quarter's analysis will be based on the results from April through to June, which are all identically calculated so will provide us with an in-depth look into how confidence has been affected, or otherwise, by all the credit crunch stories.


This project is still developing and any feedback is really welcome. Particularly:

  • Are you using the Digital Pulse data? If so, we'd love to hear more
  • Other info we should be collecting with the Digital Pulse to make it more useful?
  • Other organisations or companies we should contact about the Digital Pulse