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January 29, 2021

Is It Time to Audit Your Agency?

Media metrics and data on paper can be deceiving, especially if they’re reported incorrectly or are being embellished to make results look better. As a Performance Media Agency we’re forensic media auditors by nature.

By Kelly Maguire

Consumers prefer ads tailored to their interests yet want less invasive advertising. Marketers and advertisers need cost-effective ways to achieve their financial objectives but are moving toward less data to validate campaigns, without access to third-party cookie data. These factors combined with the importance of privacy, requires marketers to get even more creative in their approach toward digital marketing strategy.

Data is the lifeblood of any quality digital campaign.

The following are three questions to ask yourself and your team:

  1. Has your data and campaign structure been through a forensic audit and gap analysis?
  2. Has your data and tracking structure been engineered to measure business impact in addition to media delivery metrics?
  3. What is your quality assurance plan and system to ensure data integrity?

Data is the lifeblood of any quality digital campaign. It provides the insights, blueprint and information needed to make the right decisions and consistently improve. Accurate data is what allows media buyers to make informed decisions instead of “guessing” or “assuming.” All the “strategy” and machine learning in the world can’t compensate for poor data that leads to poor decision making.

Without good data, a campaign will never achieve maximum effectiveness and will struggle to achieve any degree of real effectiveness. The problem is that data isn’t as easy to collect or interpret as is often thought or portrayed. While it’s easy to place pixels, there are many complex layers that need to be inserted to ensure data is collected and analyzed accurately.

What is your quality assurance plan to ensure data integrity?

Whether it’s ensuring that Google Analytics is setup using the right data layers, naming conventions, and firing rules; or making sure that hard coding versus tag managers is done right – accurate campaign tagging and data gathering is complicated. Beyond these basic concepts which are critical and often as far as most media agencies bother to go, there are myriad advanced data options that can bring value depending on the goals and objectives of a campaign.

Determining what data options to use, what costs to consider, and how to make sure that all data is not only informative but actionable, is one part of the equation. You must also have a skilled, knowledgeable, and motivated team that understands data and analytics; and is empowered to dig deeper to ensure the highest performing campaign. It’s not enough to “talk” about data, it must be a core value. Becoming a data expert in relation to campaign performance, requires time and experience.

The reality is that data and analytics are quite difficult and complex to implement and maintain. It’s much easier to talk about data than it is to truly execute on it. The closer an agency can stay to media delivery metrics, the easier it is for them to “look good” and maintain clients and billing based on perception.

Without good data, a campaign will never achieve maximum effectiveness.

It requires a significant amount of time creating the right environment for data to be collected and used for a client’s best interests. The costs and time associated with these processes are prohibitive for most agencies to incur. The darker truth is that it’s often in a media agency’s best interest to limit the amount of data and tracking available because the more insight there is, the more accountable they have to be.

The problem with superficial media metric “wins” is that they exist only on paper and do not translate to the bottom line. These media metrics do not push the business forward. At best they might maintain status quo of just good enough while missing out on key opportunities; at worst they waste a lot of a client’s money.

Inaccurate or insufficient data is probably the most common and most detrimental issue facing most digital media campaigns. Unfortunately, data is most often a talking point. Data and numbers are used to secure a new client but fall by the wayside when it comes time to execute.

Inaccurate or poor data will create a gap in reporting, leading to a lack of valuable insights. Poor or missing insights lead to poor targeting or inappropriate optimizations. Falling short in setup and accuracy, leads to misinformation and inaccurate perception of campaign effectiveness.

It’s better to be aware than oblivious to a problem.

The key takeaway:

Make sure you have the ability and expert knowledge to know how media metrics are generated, tracked, and most importantly how the data is structured and collected. It’s very easy to skew or misrepresent numbers.

If your media metrics look great on paper but it’s not reflected in your bottom line, you’ve most likely got a campaign execution issue that should be audited independently. To be 100% confident your campaigns are set up or tracking data with accurate tagging and data capture, we’re happy to do a forensic audit of your campaigns. You decide what to do with the results. It’s better to be aware than oblivious to a problem. Feel free to reach out – we’re here to help.

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