Connecting Data With the Analytics Selfie

People usually want to achieve business success, and analytics is meant to provide guidance in that regard.

Unfortunately, most data doesn’t provide enough guidance and neither does analytics; that is why various analytics platforms are employed to being with, though they often don’t live up to their marketing hype (which was the subject of my first book).

What people really need now is the self-confidence to come up with their own answers, through using the various data sources available, whatever they may be, and visualizing it for best outcomes. In the context of this column on convergence analytics that means knowing what actions to take to best layer data. Too often this data layering is a costly and fruitless exercise.

That’s why I decided to take a trip to London this month to work with the chief data scientist of Atypiko, Adi Andre, who helped me refine my initial idea on how to best use data to inform our own decision-making, and, among the names we came up with was The Analytics Selfie (which could have also been called “The Data Selfie“).

Selfies have become popular with the rise of Instagram, but the concept, while perhaps sounding narcissistic, is probably much deeper, addressing a hunger many of us have for meaningful data that we’re too often not getting enough of.

So while we are drowning in data, we’re starving, because we hunger for the data we need, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

What the Analytics Selfie Is, and Is Not:

Using the “Analytics Selfie,” we assemble whatever data we can get hold of to provide future directions that are meaningful for us, but the Analytics Selfie should not be confused with business intelligence dashboards.

The former is focused on a personalized approach to data, which has endless possibilities in how it can be applied, while the latter is focused on a specific set of business applications and data, often inflexible and abstract, even to those for whom it was designed to inform.

Using the Analytics Selfie in a Business Context

I wanted to work with well-known examples first such as automotive manufacturers, but I believe the approach could be useful to any business or individual. Using the comScore AdMetrix, I was quickly and easily able to pull the advertising spend (estimated) for Toyota automotive and compare it with many of its top competitors across online and offline media spends (see below).

Figure 2: ComScore AdMetrix Advertiser – May 2014 US Data

As an outcome of using this dataset, I assembled a chart of automotive manufacturers from the AdMetrix data, above, but it doesn’t really tell us what the information means, or what to do next, but that’s where the Analytics Selfie comes in – a way of looking at the data and making sense of it for one’s personal or business use, whatever that may be.

Figure 3 – Percentage of Automotive Spend

In figure 3, so much of the marketing spend is on TV spend, that it dwarfs everything else, even though it is unclear that TV spend drives automotive sales directly.

According to a recent study promoted by Wes Nichols, chief executive (CEO) of global predictive analytics company MarketShare, digital advertising generated 25 percent of all product sales for a large client, though only 6 percent of the marketing budget was spent there.

“….TV ate up 85 percent of the budget in one new-product campaign, whereas YouTube ads – a 6 percent slice of the budget – were nearly twice as effective at prompting online searches that led to purchases. And search ads, at 4 percent of the company’s total advertising budget, generated 25 percent of sales.”

The Analytics Selfie, in this context, suggests the size of your business organization (and its marketing spend) influence how it will be utilized – the smaller your business is, the more likely its advertising will be concentrated in digital ad spend. As a result, one of the important questions to ask here is, “How big is my organization?” There are many questions like this to ask, and having the right questions with the right data leads to the right decisions (for the stakeholders – which could be anyone).

Figure 4: Analytics Spend Excluding TV Advertising

ComScore AdMetrix data can also provide some insights into programmatic spending, both direct and through ad exchanges.

Figure 5: ComScore AdMetrix – May 2014 US Data – Percentage Programmatic Spend

It appears that Honda is taking a more cautious approach to programmatic spend, splitting it equally between direct and ad exchanges, whilst Ford and Volkswagen are utilizing the ad exchanges almost exclusively.

This leads to the question of what spending in programmatic ought to be, in turn leading to further questions and the ability to connect the dots. Using the Analytics Selfie, we answer our own questions in a way that is much more “actionable” – what we craved for all along.

Using the Analytics Selfie Outside of Marketing

I tried an experiment in my Web analytics (WA) class at Baruch Zicklin last week, normalizing and coding introductory discussions from my MBA and MS students across six dimensions so as to better understand my class and where I wanted to lead them.

class-vs-instructorFigure 6: Web Analytics Class at Baruch Zicklin School of Business

The students (N=12, though the class contains 44 students, not all were sampled) appear to want familiarity with Web analytics, perhaps more than wanting to be hands on experts in it, and are split between using WA in business or personal context and are more marketing than IT oriented. In addition, most of the class are newbies to the Web analytics platforms, though some have used them in their business roles.

Next Steps

Using the Analytics Selfie approach, I can foster my students to be “experts” in Web analytics by providing more hands-on examples of WA and providing business insights in a business context along with creative and fun exercises in Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics so the students can practice and bounce off of each other and me.

To Sum Up

The Analytics Selfie approach leads to answering all kinds of questions, such as the types of people businesses should hire in a particular context, the kinds of solutions one needs to put in place, as well as personal decisions on how to balance out your activities, and so on.

Certainly, the approach needs to be further developed and to go more in-depth – I will need to write the Analytics Selfie text or workbook about using data to drive intelligent decisions. Readers, I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Stay tuned.

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