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Data to Insights – The journey of intelligence (Part 1 of Web Analytics Series)

For the marketers out there, I empathize with you. Considering the speed of digitization, keeping up with trends is quite a challenge and being on top of them is a considerable feat. To master the new social and mobile channels with a need to identify perceptive and pervasive insights, marketers are in the quest of ultimate knowledge about the customer and the data seems to be the answer. It’s on everyone’s minds, lips and presentations! Product vendors, agencies, clients and digital marketing ecosystem partners seem to understand the point of data quite well. However, it seems we lost our way while searching for answers and therefore are unable to reach the pinnacle of customer wisdom. This blog is an effort to make the data easy to understand and more meaningful.

Data is ubiquitous so ask the right question

The advantage of digital marketing over traditional is traceability. We can track customer interactions, measure output and calculate returns. Recorded by different data systems on our servers, data is omnipresent today. New age systems are making it simpler to store huge amounts of data and so we will not miss a single piece of information to solve the jigsaw puzzle. Consider the scenario of a digital marketer for an e-commerce site. While measuring the success of a 360 degree campaign with an objective of increasing sales, he/she will have to consider a minimum of three to four data sources i.e. sales data, display ads data, site side data, search data etc. It becomes difficult and trickier with increased operations. This decentralized and non-standardized data formats are the biggest pain points for marketers than the data itself. So it is very important to identify the purpose of collecting data before the actual collection process itself. It helps to identify the objective, in creating a centralized data source, in structuring formats and most importantly while setting the expectations. More detailed is the problem statement, simpler is the solution. Bringing this data silos together is much more important for the organizations that needs to combine the offline and online world.

Data is insight, provides the context

Data is an absolute necessary to see trends, patterns and user behaviours but data by itself is not useful. One million impressions on 22-8-2012 for a placement on Yahoo! with a CTR of 0.5 percent is an example of available data. Seeing that the CTR has seen increase of 25 percent over the last week on same publisher is information. Knowing that ad placement (with a new and related Call to Action) has changed to make it more interesting for users to click, has caused this increase is an insight. A creative need to communicate a clear and unique campaign value proposition is knowledge. As you can visualize there are many elements that influences customer opinion on different touch points before making the actual purchase. Missing media data can end up in wrong conclusion or not having information about changes in a media plan can cause lost insight.

Data is abstract information where an insight is a clear meaning driven by human intelligence.  A best example can be taken from the stock market. Company stock analysis is driven by the Profit/Earnings ratio - but no two analysts make the same conclusions as they use their own experience and available information to consider the possibilities. The same is applied to digital marketing as well. Below is the insights pyramid which explains this of intelligence in marketing context. 

Data is a supplement, not a substitute

Let me make my point. Data is not the idea. It is a means to reach the end. Sixty percent of male deodorants are bought by women in the household category in the United States is the information provided by data. However using this in a creative way is the source of huge success for Old Spice commercials. It’s safe to say that data is not a replacement for creative briefs or the big idea brain storming. Data helps to drive the idea in a most appealing fashion. To state in another way, consumers don’t fall in love with your database but they fall in love with the experience created by the brand. But for that experience to reflect the needs of consumers, you need the insights provided by the data.

Please share your thoughts, comments or examples.


Gayathri Choda

Gayathri Choda is  Head of Analytics at Mediamind. She has 6 years of experience across digital analytics, marketing strategy development. Before joining Mediamind, Gayathri worked with Wunderman (WPP), Singapore as Insights and Optimization lead for SEAP countries. Her clientele includes Microsoft, Nokia, Xbox, Time group, JP Morgan etc.