3 Tips to Stay Ahead of the Data Analytics Wave

An abstract architectural wave.

As a media planner who relies heavily on data for setting up and optimizing her clients’ paid media campaigns, I consider it my job to be well-informed on the topic of media campaign performance metrics and web analytics. Sure, keeping track of data can be time consuming, sometimes even complicated, and the benchmarks are constantly changing. However, there’s really no excuse for even the busiest media folks not to stay on top of the latest metrics. A lack of knowledge is entirely avoidable.

Here are three tips to stay ahead of the data wave:

  1. Get Google Analytics certified. If you haven’t done this already, it’s a good place to start. Having a handle on website traffic and user behavior is essential while evaluating media campaign performance. No surprise, Google has done an awesome job preparing and delivering online tutorials to help media experts, like me, get and stay up to speed on web analytics. Google Analytics Academy courses are divided into four parts, and you can go as slowly or as quickly as you want. There’s a short review “quiz” at the end of each part that you need to pass (80% correct) in order to move onto the next stage of the curriculum. Google presents information using both video and text to appeal to different types of learners. On the whole, it’s a fun and worthwhile exercise.
  2. Choose to work with media vendors who take data seriously. Familiar media brands may be a more comfortable choice for clients who aren’t as well-versed in the media marketplace. Yet, I would never assemble a media plan based solely on a media outlet’s popularity. Media representatives who want me to buy their product simply because they’re an established brand raise a red flag in my mind. I will always push back and demand to know why it’s in my client’s best interest to buy space on their platform. Media vendors have heard the call for better reporting, and I’m seeing more effort towards accountability, even from those in the traditional realm. A vendor needs to show me the data that proves my client’s target audience spends time on their network or channel. As planners, we owe it to our clients to ask these data-driven questions.
  3. Educate your clients. Over the years, I’ve grappled with a few clients who’ve flat out told me they want to “do radio” or “be on television” because they want their friends and business associates to see or hear them on air. Those are tricky conversations because I know immediately that catering to someone’s ego will not produce an effective campaign. Treading lightly, of course, I’ll do my best to educate my clients about the way ads behave across different media platforms, and explain the types of data we can expect to gather on campaign performance. Whatever media combination we settle on, there should always be data to back it up.

Whether your media plan contains traditional vehicles or leans towards an all-digital mix, or somewhere in between, data is everywhere and accountability is the name of the game. I wouldn’t think of making recommendations to my clients that didn’t have some sort of data tracking element included. Establishing good communication amongst my vendors and clients is key to getting the most out of the metrics. Both groups should be on board with regards to data, have realistic expectations for media plan performance and understand and appreciate the effort that goes into using data to evaluate and optimize a media campaign.

Anne Richardson

Anne Richardson is the owner and media director of Richardson Media Group, an agency specializing in media planning and buying, advertising campaign management, and SEO.


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Anne outside the door of the Richardson Media Group office.

In addition to her role as owner and media director here at RMG, Anne authors the majority of our blog posts and hosts our BSuite podcast. Favorite topics for both platforms include the entrepreneurial journey, sustainability + social responsibility, media planning, media buying, and forming productive agency partnerships.