Author: Joseph Riddle

27 Apr Fishing for Data Freedom, Landing an Unwelcome Surprise

fish-1013690_960_720It was a staple of the cartoons from my childhood: Seated on a river bank, an eager fishing enthusiast casts a line into the water and begins reeling in the line, imagining trout for dinner. Cue the laugh track -- what breaks the surface of the water is a sodden old boot. And so it is with marketing teams, enjoying the newfound freedom being pitched to them by various ad platforms. These platforms emphasize their ease of use in launching new campaigns. “You don’t have to wait for internally-generated Tracking Codes to deploy your marketing,” they say. “You can get the data you need with no hassle.” And marketers respond to it, because it’s mostly true. The vast majority of campaign tracking codes are no longer generated by human analysts, but by the Facebooks and Doubleclicks of the world. Within their ecosystems, these platforms accurately track and monitor, dutifully feeding data into the tag manager. But this presents a challenge to marketing analytics, one that can sneak up even when the tag management system is humming perfectly. When it comes time to analyze performance holistically, it works against your integrated marketing picture to have outside ad platforms creating cloned variations of codes that were carefully designed by the analytics team. Marketing teams don't realize that in reaching for "freedom," they’re also pulling in a lot of noise.
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20 Apr Tracking First: Company Update

Tracking First is hitting a growth spurt. Since the new year we’ve renewed six annual contracts and brought on three Global 500 clients, two financial services companies and one leisure and hospitality provider.  We are actively seeking agency channel partners to help us develop a white label partnership model that will allow us to work seamlessly with other analytics consultants.
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05 Apr Signs that this Job may not be for You

No EntryA friend of mine recently shared a post about what it’s like to work for one of the Super-Innovator companies: Google, Apple, etc.  It’s a great read (you should check it out), but one paragraph in particular jumped out at me “At Netflix...there is no expense policy. The only policy is, ‘Act in the best interest of Netflix.’...They tell employees to assume their best judgment, and they can be more productive if they’re not held back.”   Think about that for a minute. What would it be like to work for an organization that truly prioritizes innovation over cost controls? It means the company trusts and values their employees enough to empower them to act on their unique insights. Kinda makes me want to cry. Maybe you’re lucky enough to work for such an organization. In reality most companies, for one reason or another, can’t follow this model fully. Tracking First for example, is a lean, boot-strap startup. I hope we get to the point where innovation is our most advantageous use of funds. I expect it to be a while. If you’re not one of the lucky few who ends up working in a super-innovator culture, there are still guidelines you can use, to evaluate if the culture is a fit for you. Here’s what I watch out for:
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13 Mar Interview with CEO/CFO Magazine: Craig Scribner

"Companies have an ongoing challenge handing over all of the right pieces of information to their analytics system, in order for the system to tell them how their marketing campaigns are performing... We allow analytics pros or the BI team to go in as administrators to set up patterns that are relevant and targeted for the different marketing teams." Read the full interview.
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15 Feb The Importance of Data Cleanup

cleaner-1816361_960_720 One of the biggest changes in the world of marketing technology in the last decade has been the rise of Analytics. We’ve arrived at a point where Analytics is an accepted word and a legitimate specialty. But (and I know I’m preaching to the choir here), we shouldn’t break out the bubbly just yet. As it turns out, it is a lot more difficult than anyone thought it would be to reap the benefits of all our new data streams. To put it simply: though we have the tools to create bits of data, making the bits work together is hard. Jim Sterne, founder of the Digital Analytics Association and Tracking First advisor, recently shared a startling anecdote. The good folks at Analytics Demystified have created the Analytics Exchange, a place where analysts can meet up with like-minded industry colleagues, to find mentorship around analytics best practices. According to Jim, almost everyone comes to the forum for the first time with questions about how to streamline and synchronize their various data flows, in order to make sense of it all. And virtually every time, the answer is, “Your tags are a mess. You have to redo everything.” Every time.
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08 Feb Get to know the team — R. Craig Adams

Craig Adams croppedWe are proud of our team at Tracking First — collectively we have decades of experience in digital media and technology. I recently sat down with our Chief Information Officer, Craig Adams, to learn about what led him to Tracking First. JR: Let’s start with a bit about your background. Tell us the story of your career. CA: My degree is in Civil Engineering, but early on I was drawn into programming. Right out of college, I was a freelance contract programmer. I began to make business connections and eventually formed a corporation called Rhyse Development. Seven years later, we were on the Utah 100 (list of fastest-growing companies). We figured out how to make Rhyse grow, but in a competitive industry profit was a challenge. We eventually closed the doors, but it was a terrific learning experience.
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19 Jan Get to know the team — Craig Monson

C MonsonWe are proud of our team at Tracking First — collectively we have decades of experience in digital media and technology. I recently sat down with our new Vice President of Sales, Craig Monson, to learn about what led him to Tracking First.  JR: Tell me a bit about your background in the digital analytics world. I know you’ve sold analytics tools to a lot of big companies over the years.  CM: In 2001, I was hired at MyComputer.com, the predecessor to Omniture. MyComputer.com mostly built tools for mom and pop websites. One of these tools was a small web-based analytics application called Super Stats. During that time most analytics were clunky, IT-driven and run off log files. Because it was web-based, real-time, and meant to be utilized across the wider base of an organization, Super Stats was compelling. Even so, compared to today it was really basic.  
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04 Jan Campaign Analytics Tracking – How did we get here?

Increasing ComplexityLooking at the world of campaign analytics in 2017, it can be challenging for anyone who didn’t grow up in the industry to make sense of its complexity. Seasoned analysts and marketers have a history with the technology, but they've often witnessed so much change so quickly that it can feel at times like someone snuck up and piled a bunch of new challenges on top of old ones, before solutions to the old problems were fully worked out. When it comes to URL tracking and campaign analytics, the tools at our fingertips are impressively precise. Not that long ago, the only data you could meaningfully derive from a referring URL was how much traffic you’re getting from various websites. At a high level it allowed companies to see which partnerships and publishing platforms were bringing eyes to their sites, but that’s about it.
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