Originally Published in: The Exchange Lab

January 23rd, 2018

There are several critical dimensions to delivering an effective and efficient marketing campaign, but the most important and misunderstood is the activation of data.  The three key dimensions to data activation are:  clearly identifying objectives, recognizing gaps in data availability with an action plan, and turning the power of data into fuel for the campaign, driving its success.

Clearly identifying objectives is not only the key to activating data well, but fundamental to executing any campaign effectively.  Clear objectives are often assumed or taken for granted, but if adequate time is not taken up front to ensure that they are well defined for everyone involved then all subsequent efforts cannot be as effective as they could be.  Defining objectives along the SMART principle (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Timely) for all parties is the key to sustainable success. The advertiser has clear business problems they’re trying to solve for, sharing these in a SMART framework with partners ensures everyone is driving to the same end goal.

Even with a good SMART framework in place those well-defined objectives often fall short when it comes to having a robust measurement plan. A common omission we see in objective planning is the assumption that gaps in measurement can be filled along the way or after the fact, when this is often not the case.  Best practice has proven out that a data test period is ideally conducted before a campaign begins to ensure that data being collected turns up as expected, and can be properly joined to other relevant data sets, enabling accurate measurement against objectives.  It is all too common to implement tags and set up databases only to discover that critical data points are missing; causing the situation where results need to be simplified or estimated.  A situation that can be easily resolved via SMART objectives combined with a clear and robust data collection plan mapped to those objectives.

Finally turning this carefully prepared data into real insight before, during and after the campaign will ensure that objectives are met.  By surfacing impression level campaign data in near real-time from the test period before the campaign begins, as it launches, through campaign close, can add tremendous value with the right tools and skillsets in place.  This can take the form of effective dash boarding, directly placed into the hands of those executing the campaign and the advertisers themselves, as well as through advanced analytics performed by data science professionals.  This will ensure that the full value of the data being collected is extracted.

If objectives are clearly identified, all relevant data points are collected properly from the first impression served, and that data is surfaced effectively for all stakeholders, the campaign is set up for maximum success.  This framework enables a thorough analysis of products or services being sold, creative performance and other campaign and external factors at play.  Without proper consideration of these three critical steps to effectively activate data, the campaign will likely not succeed, and your ability to measure it will be murky at best.  Finding the right partners, skillsets and tools are key to properly activating data and none of these elements should be treated lightly as your results depend on them.

Written by:

Chris Hopkins

Senior Director of Analytics, North America at The Exchange Lab

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