Opinion

Eight priorities for advertisers investing in analytics technology

Erik Mikisch reveals eight essential elements to ensure that marketers will get analytics they need to perform meaningful data analysis.

Relentless streams of information lead to data indigestion. Effective analytics, which allow advertisers to prioritise and filter their data, should enable advertisers to easily interpret and analyse their streams of data and ultimately enhance their decision-making.

Erik Mikisch - performance horizon

That said, there are a number of key considerations for marketers who seek to truly benefit from their analytics systems and perform meaningful data analysis.

These marketers should prioritise the following needs when it comes to the systems they invest in:

Compelling Metrics

Marketers should consider the granularity of their reporting. The last-click rewarding mechanism by itself is increasingly seen as insufficient; a topic captured well by Benjamin Dick, director of industry initiatives at the IAB.

Benjamin Dick - Director, Industry Initiatives - IAB

Dick: “We need to evolve beyond simplistic last touch methodologies”

Brands should ensure they have access to as many meaningful data collection points (i.e., engagement with content assets, dwell time) and insights into the consumer journey as possible.

Brands such as Neiman Marcus are increasingly using analytics, attribution models and technology to help drive business. The retailer was a 2015 Genius Award Finalist for Excellence in Digital Marketing Analytics.

ANA Genius Awards

Transparency and Control Visibility

Given that brand marketers and partners share the same goals, it is critical that all parties have access to performance data, including clicks, conversions and payment/commission data. Transparency around shared metrics ensures open communication and better optimisation aligned with all parties’ goals.

Conversely, you may deal with highly confidential and sensitive information, depending on your vertical. In these cases, it is also important to mask and share properties, when needed, with key stakeholders, including partners.Partner Interaction

Performance Horizon Partner Interaction

Visualisation

Although raw numbers may certainly contain compelling information, it can be difficult to get excited about row after row of monochrome text. A visual representation of data resonates immediately and allows you to identify trends easily, digest key takeaways quickly, and act accordingly.

Performance Horizon seasonal heat map

Performance Horizon – Seasonal Heat Map

Real-time Reporting

With e-commerce traffic flooding through at an ever-increasing rate, retroactive batch uploads and data lags can be frustrating, to say the least, and inhibit your ability to make informed decisions. Real-time visibility into consumer behavior is vital and a must in today’s market.

Accessibility

Advanced analytics should significantly reduce administrative efforts and time spent manually pulling reports. Among the many benefits of easily accessible analytics, this will provide more time to focus on strategy as well as more nimble decision-making.

Encryption

Secure, encrypted data is particularly important when dealing with sensitive data or information. This is especially relevant for brands in highly regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare, but is increasingly important for all brands that collect and use DMPs (data management platforms) to collect and store first-party customer data.

mobile phone graph analytics business data - thinkstovkIntegration with other systems

Advertisers who work with numerous types of software and third-party systems often find it useful to easily pass data streams to other systems. In a market where legacy investments are commonplace, compatibility is a core strength. In today’s environment, compatibility is typically achieved with server to server integration (S2S) via open APIs.

Post-Transaction Analysis

Real-time or near real-time use of data to optimise conversion activity is critical in today’s fast-moving digital environment. However, data mining conversion actions, consumer journeys, audience, channel, device, and location data—especially of performance over time and at regular intervals—can identify non-obvious trends and point to medium and long-term business opportunities.

Where are we heading?

Exciting times lie ahead with predictive analytics, machine learning and sophisticated methodologies changing how savvy marketers make decisions in today’s information-overloaded environment.

Applying these advances to data provides advertisers with a much richer understanding of past customer activity and allows them to anticipate future behavior.

Effective data mining enables marketers to recognise patterns around customer preferences, product performance, and customer segmentation. Machine learning algorithms and predictive models further allow advertisers to proactively categorize all products according to customer preferences, which typically results in eliciting desirable consumer responses.

For example, Pinterest is using machine learning and crowdsourcing to help surface more interesting content.

trending query pipeline - image pinterest

Figure 1: V1 of Pinterest’s trending query pipeline. Source: Pinterest Engineering Blog.

Figure 2- Trending query pipeline with automated human evaluation - pinterest

Figure 2: Trending query pipeline with automated human evaluation.

When all parties – including marketers, their agencies, and partners – understand and effectively harness the power of customer segmentation, the chance of conversion increases considerably.

Moreover, marketers can expect exciting developments from the continued advancement of sophisticated measurement methodologies which provide with critical new insight into their businesses.

As these methodologies continue to advance across all marketing activities, channels, and devices, marketers gain greater clarity around customer journeys and conversion paths as well as greater insight into the contribution associated with each of the activities along the way—bringing us ever closer to realistic, multi-touch attribution.

Once marketers effectively harness this rich insight to better align their campaigns to their business objectives and integrate their learnings into creative delivery so that the optimal property results can be delivered to their customer, the subsequent business impact should speak for itself.

Erik Mikisch is vice president of marketing at Performance Horizon

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