Monday, November 05, 2007

Google to Dominate Dashboards?

Having conquered the worlds of web search and analytics, is Google about to corner the market on marketing dashboards?


What Google is doing is coordinating online ad display data with offline (TV) ad exposures. Google is partnering with Nielsen to take data directly from Nielsen’s set-top-box panel of 3,000 households nationwide and mash it up with Google analytics data to find correlations between on- and off-line exposure. The premise is, I’m sure, to help marketers integrate this data with their own sales information and find statistical correlation between the two as a means of assessing the impact of the advertising at a high level. By using data only from the set-top box, Google is able to present offline ad exposure data with the same certainty as it does online – e.g., we know that this ad was actually shown. Unfortunately, we don’t know if the ad (online or off) was actually seen, never mind absorbed.

However, with the evolution of interactive features in set-top boxes, it won’t be long before we begin to get sample data of people “clicking” on TV ads, much like we do online ads. So we’ll get the front end of the engagement spectrum (shown) and the back end (responded). But we won’t get anything from the middle to give us any diagnostic or predictive insights to enhance the performance of our marketing campaigns.

A full marketing dashboard integrates far more than just enhanced ratings data and looks deeper than just summary correlations between ads shown and sales to dissect the actual cause of sales. Presuming that sales were driven by advertising in the Google dashboard model would potentially ignore the influence of a great many other variables like trade promotions, channel incentives, and sales force initiatives.

Drawing conclusions about advertising’s effect solely on the basis of looking at sales and ratings would quickly undermine the credibility of the marketing organization. So while the Google dashboard may be a welcome enhancement, it’s not by any stretch a panacea for measuring marketing effectiveness.

It seems to me that Google has created better tools. But through their lens of selling advertising, they’re perpetuating a few big mistakes.

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