Over the past year, online advertisers and their agency counterparts have fretted, privately and publicly, about the growing concern over the issue of data leakage -- or who has access to online marketing and advertising campaign data. But the part of the data leakage story most have danced around is how advertisers themselves can put their treasure troves of data to work. With the expansion of advertising networks and mobile and social options, along with advertising optimization, determining how to use this vast new data pool is no easy task.
Third-party ad servers like DoubleClick and data brokers like BlueKai have built their businesses on finding ways to put other people's ad campaign data to good use. For advertisers, however, it's a different story. While most are well versed in traditional ad campaign metrics, such as website interactions and click-through rates (CTRs), they're just scratching the surface when it comes to understanding what happens to ads as they cycle through various ad networks, media properties, and other online publishers.
There seems to be two reasons for this lack of awareness among online advertisers. First, until recently brands really haven't needed to dig deep into their data to be successful in this initial wave of cost-per-click, video, and banner advertising. Metrics like CTRs and "last ad view conversions" were sufficient for helping advertisers deliver returns on their campaigns. But in the new world of distributed and social advertising, brands are beginning to understand they need to know a lot more to make sound decisions about what contributed to a campaign's success or failure in order to adjust plans going forward.
Second, brands are facing the fact they may not have the in-house expertise or the technology necessary to mine the salient information they need from the petabytes of complex and rich data collected from ad campaigns. Yes, they may know the value of their data, but putting it to work quickly and effectively is a challenge for even the most experienced advertising team.
As online display and brand advertising enters a new era, advertisers need to take the necessary first steps to better understand how to put their own log file data to work. Here are a few to get you started:
Find the data
If you don't yet have access to your ad campaign log files, you need to change that. Make sure whoever manages your online campaigns (whether it be an agency or internal resource) knows exactly where the data is, who's using it, and how to access it.
Make sure you have resources on your team that know how to curate and use complex campaign data. Whether it's an internal staff member or a consultant from outside the company, you need to assemble a team of people who have a deep understanding of analytics in order to make the most of your ad campaign data.
While an understanding of analytics is a cornerstone to putting data to work, you also need the right tools to help. A simple spreadsheet won't cut it. Ad impression data is large and complex. While many brands and advertising professionals are comfortable with simple analytics tools, such as Google analytics or Omniture (which measures interaction with website performance), they realize these tools only tell them part of the story. To properly analyze large amounts of ad campaign data, a deeper dive and more processing power is necessary. New kinds of easy to use and powerful analytics tools are emerging to help.
Pay attention to new metrics
It's important for advertisers to expand their view of ad performance metrics beyond things like traditional last-click attribution. Most campaign data includes rich information about your campaigns, such as audience type, location, timing, creative, and other factors that contribute to campaign lift and audience response rates. In order to make the right tweaks and adjustment to campaigns going forward, advertisers need to closely examine how this data contributes to its overall success.
While figuring out how to properly use ad campaign data may seem daunting to most online advertisers, it is the necessary foundation for any successful campaign in this new cross-platform advertising era. By taking some simple steps, all online advertises can prepare and make the most of the opportunities proper ad campaign analysis can contribute to their future.
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