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 covered the challenge, and part two explores how pharma marketers are tackling it.Tracking First: Thanks for your helpful explanation of the unique tracking challenges facing pharma marketers. Can we talk a bit about the regulatory environment that impacts drug advertising, and how they work with it?DT: Pharma and medical device companies need to be very careful, particularly about how they market to consumers and to a lesser extent to physicians. All drug marketing has to pass medical, legal and FDA reviews. The regulatory hurdle creates another trickle-down of complexity, like requiring different collateral for consumers and practitioners. The drug companies have to be transparent and consistent with messaging to practitioners, while simultaneously working to create demand or stimulate interest on the consumer side.
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.
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.
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.
In the 2017 world of IT and systems engineering, Test-driven development (TDD) is quickly becoming the new mantra. No one writes a line of code these days without the intent to have that code check/test itself. If there is bug in that code, it gets caught and fixed before it goes live, reducing any risk of breakage.This kind of system has never been deployed on the analytics side. By convention, analytics work has relied on hacks; quick and dirty patches that frequently go awry, and are just as likely to backfire and cut down the analyst, as to cut down her obstacles. If the analyst is winging it, to fill in a little gap in the proverbial data wall, he can unwittingly create a huge chasm with a single stroke. Bringing a TDD approach to analytics would go some way in changing that. It would require that whenever you make any change to your analytics, you make sure the change is fully tested before it’s deployed. This method takes more time -- and may frustrate management -- but will result in better quality control.
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 atAnalytics 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.
Often, when companies release a marketing campaign, their analytics teams spend the next few days scrambling. As quickly as possible, they need to make sure all the data is pulling correctly. Are the tracking codes working? Are the expected data reportable? When something goes wrong, as it often does, it’s hard to know who made the mistake and where. An experienced analyst can sometimes decipher from context. They may see that the broken code came from an email, or a specific social media channel, but it’s challenging detective work -- and it’s a huge pain. Anything you learn may not help anyway, because the data is already damaged.Some companies have taken the lead and tried to solve this by creating their own governance systems to monitor the generation and management of Tracking Codes. Companies like Salesforce and HP have developed their own tools. That’s been their only option up to this point. However, these systems are typically expensive and not core to their business. With maintenance and development time devoted solely to maximizing investments they’ve already paid for, these systems can be a real money pit.
Looking 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.