Digital marketers often wrestle with the myths and truths of "big data", and what to do with it. But data is just numbers until used to answer questions. Then it becomes insight. Luckily there are many new, yet familiar tools to help. One of the newest, PowerMap, lets you leap from data to insight shockingly fast.
Mapping data geographically can paint a stunning picture that actually tells you what you need to do to market smarter. PowerMap is likely the most beautiful insight tool you've seen yet, and can unlock insights to drive campaign performance. It has to be seen to be believed.
Excel Charting plus Bing Maps on Steroids
Think of PowerMap as Excel charting plus Bing Maps on steroids. Before PowerMap was PowerMap, it was GeoFlow Preview for Excel 2013 created from a Microsoft Research project. It can chart data with 3D columns overlaid on a map over time. And as of early September new features make PowerMap even stronger:
Applying Insights to Advertising Campaigns
Here's an example to illustrate the value of PowerMap. Did you know that different parts of the country (and the world, of course) have different start-dates for school? This year, all of Hawaii's public K-12 students went back to school August 5, while New York went back September 9.
If you're targeting the back-to-school audience, you'd want to know precisely when school starts at different places across the country. This information is publicly available. Since there are over 15,000 school districts, it's easier to work with a third party data provider, in this case MCH Strategic Data. A distinct geographic targeting strategy emerges when you combine the first day of school data with PowerMap, something even MCH Strategic Data hadn't seen before.
We're working with two data points: Date and geography. It looks like this:
Visualizing the data on a map and over time drives home many insights. One key insight: A nationally targeted campaign won't allow you to differentiate your ad copy to cities or states which are already in school. If Los Angeles' 640,000 students go back to school on August 13, you'd have to have the same ad messaging and bids until New York City's 1.1 million students go back on September 9. So switching from a nationally targeted campaign to a region-specific campaign makes more sense.
Data is just numbers. Tools like PowerMap unlock insights by visualizing lots of data in an intuitive manner. You can then focus on understand how everything fits together, plus where and when you should take action. This is a new tool, and right now it's only available for Office 365 Pro Plus on a PC. It's a free download for those users, hopefully coming to more users soon!
What's the first thing you'd want to plot using PowerMap? What are the questions this tool can answer for you?
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John Gagnon is a Bing Ads Evangelist (aka “search nerd”) at Microsoft. He has worked for both Bing Ads and Google AdWords, and is a frequent speaker at digital marketing conferences such as SES, SMX, and others. He has advised hundreds of clients ranging from Microsoft teams like Windows and Internet Explorer to small businesses like local garage door repair shops just getting started.
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