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Is It Wrong to Love Analytics This Much?

  |  October 17, 2013   |  Comments

Digital marketers share what they love about analytics and the industry in general, with columnist Jim Sterne.

shutterstock-52824967The new Digital Analytics Association website includes an Open Forum for members. In an effort to help get the conversation started, I asked what people love about their job and about the industry in general.

Christopher Berry, chief science officer at Authintic and co-chair of the DAA Research Committee, rigorously enumerated his top three reasons:
1. The Solution Set
2. The Problem Set
3. The Market Set

Christopher loves the fact that digital data and the tools we use to understand it change frequently and that often, people invent solutions before there's even a stated problem. In his eyes, "Every time your understanding of the universe changes, you change. So, on any given day, you can change a little. Or you can change a lot."

Christopher also loves the evolving and changing problems facing digital analysts. "Change creates a lot of problems. Some of those problems are like knots that just get tighter the more you tug on them. Others get looser." Christopher is a puzzle fanatic.

shutterstock-145496086Along with the ever-changing raw material (data) and tools, and the wonderful mysteries Christopher loves to unravel, he loves to have a material impact on the world around him. "There are so many different markets in analytics... where a flow of people, a flow of money, a flow of problems, and a flow of solutions all converge together. The ability to nudge some of those flows in different directions, to shape them, is especially interesting."

Dave Gatdula, web analyst at Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, has not been in digital marketing as long as Christopher, but also relishes the amount he has learned. "After about a year (and an incredible #eMetrics Conference in San Francisco last year), I am able to actually understand what is happening in the Digital Marketing and Analytics world, and I am able to say that it's truly a fascinating environment."

Dave is enamored by consumer behavior - how they respond to content and marketing efforts. And best of all for Dave is, "There is nowhere to go but up. The industry is always changing, and knowing that the more I absorb and learn along the way, the more valuable I become wherever I am in the field of Marketing and Digital Analytics."

Helene Cameron-Heslop is a senior manager in eCommerce Analytics at Expedia in London. She comes to digital analytics with a love of numbers and is excited by the unexpected. "You put an MVT (multivariate test) live, certain that a particular version will win, and people hate it, at other times you think there may be a small difference and there's a landslide victory. In the world of DA - expect the unexpected!"

Thomas Jørgensen, consultant, NPS & Digital Insights at LEGO (yes, in Århus, Denmark) agrees with Helene. And, like Christopher, loves that new tools and methods for better insights and understanding of consumers are introduced on a regular basis.

shutterstock-155746937Garrison Cummings says, "At the heart of it, I'm a data geek with a passion for hitting business objectives." Garrison is a digital manager for the Green Bay Packers. He loves trying to understand what motivates fans/customers to connect on a frequent basis. "Honestly, how cool is it that we get to use numbers to help create digital experiences that fans/customers will consume (and give their feedback)?"

On the business objectives side of things, Garrison loves proving that he is being a key producer in driving results for the organization. "When threats to hitting business objectives arise, I love digging into the numbers to find opportunities to grow the business. How many other areas of the business are able to look into the digital numbers and let the President know, if we invest X amount here, I'm forecasting we will create Y in revenue with a high degree of confidence? In many ways, I feel like I'm running my own business because of the degree of investment I have in it."

I think Garrison speaks for all of us in his love of being both Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson:

"Ok, crazy analogy, but I'll explain. I loved Sherlock Holmes growing up (and renewed it thanks to the latest BBC version). Now, I feel I'm in a career where I can be both Sherlock and Dr. Watson on so many different levels. The Dr. Watson side of me gets to dig into numbers and find insights through the numbers. A bottoms-up approach. I have found many valuable insights doing this. On the flip side, the Sherlock Holmes side of me (loves creating hypothesis on why certain types of events are happening and gather evidence to support it. Or the top-down approach. Either way, I get to test out these insights/hypotheses through various tests. Jumping into digital analytics has been the most rewarding career choice. I honestly look forward to getting to work every day."

Like Christopher, above, Paul Taylor (account manager at Adobe Systems) created a list: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. 

"I've encountered a number of references to Dan Pink's work on motivation recently (though his '09 TED talk on the topic is hardly recent in digital terms). His analysis of the tripartite composition of motivation speaks well to the benefits of digital analytics as a vocation:

Autonomy

The field is sufficiently new and dynamic that while stakeholders or senior leadership may be able to (ideally, but not always) define a set of requirements (or the problem at hand), they generally lack the expertise to dictate approach. Though DA practitioners are hardly immune to micromanagement, they are well inoculated.

Mastery

Opportunities to grow breadth and depth of knowledge in tools, tactics, industries, technologies, etc. are endless. Daily learning is not only possible; it's almost inevitable.

Purpose

While in certain contexts there may be some basis for negative tropes (big brother, unscrupulous marketer, etc.) sometimes associated with measurement and analysis, digital analytics is, at its best, an unprecedentedly empowered (contrast the traditional focus group) exercise in removing pain and frustration from everyday human experience in the digital realm, i.e., (and perhaps I aggrandize slightly) its aim is to make people's lives better."

I couldn't agree more. I love digital analytics because it seems to be the most demonstrable way to make the online experience better. Heaven knows there is room for improvement!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne is an international consultant who focuses on measuring the value of the Web as a medium for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, is the founding president and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association and produces the eMetrics Summit and the Media Analytics Summit.

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