Marketers fall into the same traps over and over, not realizing that they’re sabotaging themselves. Digital advertising has made marketing more fast paced, chaotic and confusing than ever before. Below are the top 7 analytics pitfalls that advertisers fall for, sometimes without even knowing it.
Over-Reliance on Incomplete Platform Data
Ad platforms report only on what happens inside of their platform. For advertisers who are running multiple ad channels, ad platforms can’t give you the whole story. To get a complete picture of your ad performance, you need to understand how and when users are interacting with multiple channels.
Over the last years, tracking limitations have also made ad platforms less accurate at conversion reporting. You need to be aware of where you have holes in platform data and begin testing solutions that can help you fill in the gaps.
Using Google Analytics for Cross-Channel Decisions
Google Analytics is a great tool for measuring individual visitors, but it doesn’t tell the whole story when you’re buying ads programmatically or on a CPM. It will only show the last click on your ad, not other paths to purchase. The tool is also limited in that it cannot measure medium- or long-term effects of advertising campaigns.
If you are trying to do cross channel budget allocations or heavy optimizations, be aware of Google Analytics’ limitations and don’t rely on it as your sole tool informing your decision making.
Blindly Trusting Agencies with Internal Multi-Touch Attribution Tools
Many agencies have developed multi-touch attribution tools and offer it to their clients, but there are two fundamental problems with this.
The first problem is that every attribution model is biased. If you’re using the model built by an ad agency, it will reflect their biases. If they prefer programmatic or video, they’re going to give heavier weights to those channels.
The second problem is that the agency is grading their own homework when they offer internal multi-touch attribution. Owning the analytics lets them control the story around performance. This is in their interest and they have something to gain from controlling the narrative – to get more ad dollars.
Blindly Trusting Ad Platforms That Offer Cross-Channel Measurement
Ad platforms offering cross-channel measurement are very similar to agencies that offer an internal MTA. They have a financial interest in where ad dollars get spent, so you have to take the data with a grain of salt.
If you receive a quote from an advertising platform that promises to provide advanced analytics for free, consider their motivations. They’re likely providing this service in order because it lets them control how performance is reported so they can earn more of your marketing budgets.
Buying ‘Holy Grail’ Solutions
If you’re looking for a marketing solution that will provide everything you need, consider looking for something that doesn’t exist yet. Anyone who has spent more than a few months in marketing knows that there are no silver bullets – no solution that will magically fix everything. No technology is perfect.
If a DSP, reporting platform, or attribution tool claims they can ‘do it all’, they’re likely overstating what they can do. Rather than trying to find one tool that does everything, focus on finding the right tools for each stage of your campaign.
Ignoring Internal Benchmarking and Incentives
Marketers, and especially agency marketers, need to be aware of what your clients, managers, or leadership is being graded on. How are they being judged?
If they’re graded on driving site traffic or minimizing CPC, you need to make sure your recommendations will align with what they care about most. Understanding this means you’ll work better and get approval from clients faster.
Ignoring Changes to Identity and 3P Data Practices and Regulations
Even though Google delayed the death of 3rd party cookies, there’s a lot that is still unknown, but these changes are inevitable. It is likely that there will be further changes, more privacy updates, and new solutions introduced. What might be best for brands is to watch carefully what new solutions come to market, and which ones rise to the top as the best ways to solve the current and future problems.
A lot of these bad practices are things that I’ve been guilty of in the past, and over time, I’ve made it a point to adjust my strategy. The main thing is to make sure you understand the nuance and shortcomings of each data source, so you can have the right data for your campaigns.