The art of analytics: moving from numbers to insights

Last year, the term ‘Big Data’ was thrown around a lot, but few companies have won the battle to stay ahead of this trend. In the digital age, it has grown increasingly important to stay relevant and connected to an audience. Gloo@Ogilvy has not only identified the importance of mining big data, but has added a Data Analytics and Planning division to its team, which helps the efficient analysis of data to provide real insights.

At the beginning of every year we are inundated with a barrage of trends articles that set out to predict the ‘next big thing’ for the year ahead across every category; from food through to finance. And in the marketing world, there was no doubt that ‘big data’ – a broad term for large or complex data sets – was a 2015 buzzword.
But the battle to mine big data is far from won.

The below summarises the art of effectively mining data into four simple steps.

1. Present insights, not numbers

Data scientists are excited by numbers – it’s why we do what we do. But bombard clients with graphs and figures without providing clear insight, and you have lost them already.

The biggest challenge is that far too many agencies and clients are still providing only ‘descriptive’ analytics; ‘these are the stats, this is what happened’. However, numbers are just numbers; without analysis they don’t have much meaning.

It is crucial to move past merely holding up a mirror to actual diagnosis, which provides clients with real intel which can be used to the benefit of their business.

It means moving beyond descriptive analytics into a more diagnostic space – understanding why there was a certain outcome. It means integrating and collaborating, and finding new ways of working altogether. It means spending less time on formatting and inserting Excel spreadsheets into PowerPoint (gasp!), and more time on analysing data and extracting real insights.

2. From ‘afterthought’ to ‘thought leader’

In the marketing world, analytics is often an ‘afterthought’; it’s not part of project plans, not incorporated into project briefs, and mostly only referenced once the campaign has run its course.

Analytics should not only be included at the end of the campaign (as many believe), but right at the briefing stage. “Too often we parade our lofty goals and KPIs in front of clients before a campaign kicks off, but without incorporating analytics into the process from its inception, how can we plan and anticipate possible scenarios and outcomes aligned to the campaign’s objectives?

Analytics need to come in from the start, throughout the entire process, and right through to the finishing line. A data analyst can provide input into guidance for the strategic, creative, UX and development process, and we should take advantage of this. The days of using our ‘gut feel’ exclusively are long gone, as we embrace a new world where creativity and science (which informs strategy) go hand in hand.

3. Sexy little numbers

There is a massive opportunity for us to make reports and reporting sessions more interesting, insightful and beautiful. If we accept that many people don’t like numbers, putting together lengthy PowerPoint documents with lots of figures and ugly pie charts isn’t going to work. So how do we turn our boring presentations into sexy little numbers that grab attention?

A lot of people think ‘infographics’ when they hear ‘data visualisation’, but there are many ways to illustrate what the numbers reveal.

Think about how you can beautifully present your case in a story that will resonate with and capture the attention of your clients. If you can pull in a designer to help your audience to focus on the information that’s important – even better. Creative agencies particularly should work a little harder in this area; they owe it to themselves and their clients.

4. And lastly…just get started! (at the start)

The most challenging part in mastering this is just getting started. Pick an area that you know is of interest to your clients – for example, campaign reporting, content analysis, competitor review or Always On analytics – and simply get started. Refine. Evolve. Make sure you understand your clients as well as your audience and take them on a journey that will ultimately help your client to better understand their customers and make them more valuable.



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