Tracking First interviewed Dominic Tassone of the Indegene Encima Group for this two-part series focused on the unique campaign tracking challenges faced by marketers in the pharmaceutical industry. Part one covers the challenge, and part two will explore potential solutions. Tracking First: What makes the challenge of marketing analytics in the pharmaceutical industry unique?DT: Within pharma, you find all the usual challenges of tracking digital marketing that any team faces, compounded by an unusual level of added regulatory complexity. The core problem facing any team is keeping all of the tracking codes and parameters used for click tracking organized. This gets very complicated when you have lots of different marketing channels. And it gets more complicated when you start talking about multiple agencies and multiple channel owners, or different agencies for different channels, or potentially multiple agencies within one channel.
When you’re in charge of the Library of Congress, there are probably all kinds of pressing practical concerns. Daniel J. Boorstin, twelfth Librarian of Congress, appears to have made time to consider the big picture as well. He is credited with this assertion: "the biggest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance -- it is the illusion of knowledge."Consider what this could mean for your analytics data and your business. If your analytics relies on legacy spreadsheets developed over the years in various departments, if the uploading of tracking codes and classification tables into your analytics tool is done by hand, if you find that your reports aren’t always capturing the data you want due to corruptions or mis-classifications of your campaign codes, then instead of knowledge about your business, you’re likely laboring under the illusion of knowledge. That’s why you have the sense that your reports aren’t giving you the whole story. That’s why you don’t feel you can trust them.
I recently came across an idea that interested me in The Way to Design, by Steve Vassallo, award-winning designer and entrepreneur. He elaborated on a concept familiar to many engineers (and one that’s increasingly been adopted in the marketing world), that of “T-shaped” people, those who know a certain field very well and have enough understanding of adjacent disciplines to allow them to develop and launch products successfully. But Vassallo says that more is needed. In his words, “if you want to build enduring companies and really earn your seat at the table, I think you need to be π-shaped. That is, you need to have depth in both the creative and the analytical. Left- and right-brained. Empathetic and data-driven” (The Way to Design, Chapter 4). There may be certain people for whom developing strengths in more than one discipline comes easily: not just T-shaped, or even π-shaped -- picture a three-legged stool of talents. But for every person who finds this a breeze, there are probably many more people for whom one area of expertise is plenty. Given the value that such breadth can bring, Is there something that we can do in our organizations to help people get to the place where they have more than one leg to stand on?
Take a look here, to see what we’re reading and talking about. Some of the headlines:--Marketing Technology May Never Consolidate (But That's a Good Thing)Marketing technology has consolidated to the point where it looks like a pyramid: a few billion-dollar giants on top, dozens of $100 million firms at the next level, and thousands of companies with less revenue below that -- with that number increasing steadily. By revenue distribution, the industry is consolidating. But by number of firms, it's expanding: a common market structure in the digital age known as a "long tail." The result could be a market that is consolidated at the platform level, with diverse specialized products available to plug into those platforms.Ad Age(4/17/17)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a digital analyst, with a background in web development and marketing, takes a role heading up web analytics for a Fortune 500 company...and finds himself in the midst of chaos. The business wants to know how their marketing campaigns are performing, and they keep pestering IT for a more nuanced analysis. Meanwhile, tech wants normalized, better-quality data, and labels the lack of these inputs a “marketing problem.” Enter the analyst, trying to steer marketing in the direction of better data capture and IT toward a better understanding of marketing’s challenges -- all while advocating within the global organization for a greater focus and investment in the very data capture and analysis that these stakeholders have grown to mistrust.
It 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.
A 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:
How would you describe your competence at using data to improve your decision-making? How about your organization’s competence? Using information to do something more effectively is something we think and talk a lot about at Tracking First. I’m all about leveraging information so you have a single version of truth within your team. When I owned a tech company in the 90s, people began to approach me for help with job search and business advice. Before long I had a little side hobby, helping friends and family to get jobs, and get their businesses launched. Eventually I decided to compile the things I was telling people in a book.
Have a look at this image. Sound familiar? Web analytics has held out the elusive promise of being a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. “Set up your reports, and the data will fill itself in.” That promise has largely held true -- for every part of web analytics except Marketing. That’s because with marketing, the web page you have today isn’t the one you had yesterday. There’s constant change: new information, new deals, new parameters. What everyone wants is a system that runs itself. Otherwise, as the figure shows, you spend all your time making sure the reporting is right. Spending time on data correction takes time away from the analysis that will really help the company. It’s a necessary evil. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get marketing data to the same set-and-forget kind of place as the rest of our web analytics?
"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.