Marketing Analytics & Industry Evolution
Recently, several of my colleagues and I participated in a summit put on by our friends at Google with a focus on Marketing Mix Modeling. It was designed as a day to bring in some of the best practitioner and academic minds on the topic to share some examples of successes, surface some challenges in the industry and embark on dialogue for how we can collectively continue to enhance the value of marketing analytics as an industry and to our clients. One of the key themes discussed throughout the day pertained to adapting and evolving our insights in the face of massive changes associated with the increasing availability of big data, particularly the need for greater openness and standards.
Big Data = Bigger Expectations
The volume of data available to analytics leaders is impressive in its breadth, depth and timeliness, particularly with respect to digital activities and assets. As new and informative sources of data come “online” regularly, analysts in the field of marketing analytics are increasingly tasked with using the data to provide more profound and actionable insights covering a much broader range of marketing activities than the pre-digital age. You could say that “to whom big data is granted, much more insight is expected”.
Data Transparency leads to Better Insights
The key challenge many analytics practitioners face in the digital era is they spend increasing amounts of time navigating, evaluating and preparing the large volumes of data available to them. The consequence is the time spent on data “activities” is typically 5x more than the effort available for analysis and insights development. Ponder that for a moment; more time is spent on identifying appropriate data sources, determining formats and reconciling seemingly similar but different inputs across multiple sources, than on generating the value add and directive insights that business requires.
The result is an environment of shifting standards and skewed perspectives where ROI assessment is often a subjective exercise, dependent on the choice of analytics provider, agency strategy and the interests of media providers.
Now, it is entirely reasonable for objectives to be different across clients or agencies, however, we believe the measurement of effectiveness and efficiency of those objectives should never be subjective. At the same time, the industry should avoid a mass movement towards the creation of standards organization, accreditation agencies and by all means no more syndication. Instead, the focus should be on a universal acceptance of this age of data openness.
Rather than force standards, there should be a greater emphasis on data accessibility and the sharing of ideas across industry for data management and transformation. Reducing the influence of form factor, opening access and sharing usage guidelines for data will enable analytics agencies to focus more on value add activities such as analytic method innovation, insights delivery, consulting services and decision support. Differentiation across firms will then be based on the real value delivered, as opposed to data and story manipulation.