Jan 2015

As we come to the end of another wonderful year, it seems like a perfect moment to start looking ahead to see what’s in store for the digital industry.

Here’s presenting 10 awesome predictions related to Analytics.

Do visit our section on the Google Analytics workshop we offer?

1. Real-Time Analytics will Rule

We are going to move ahead from simple data recording to getting actionable insights in real-time. Brands, I believe, will understand how to better use real-time web analytics to evaluate the impact of TV Ads on online traffic. This can transform the whole TV or any other offline medium’s strategy. Just like conventional A/B testing, this process can also help to understand the performance of any ad message on diverse demographics in different time slots.

Also, the need for real-time data and capabilities will continue to increase with the desire to enhance efficiency of online advertisements. Real-time Analytics or RTA helps in understanding the quality of traffic almost immediately and thereby, will also help to make quicker and improved business decisions.

On the Social front, I believe that 2015 is going to see a growth in predictive analytics in Social. Real-time social analytics dashboards have led to the brands going from ‘what happened’ to ‘what’s happening’. They may very well give us the opportunity to discover ‘what is going to happen’ as well.

2. Geo Analytics – Era of Mobile Phones

I believe 2015 will be the year in which brands will reap extra benefits thanks to that little something in the phone that communicates with GPS satellites aka. geo-tagging. Brands will be able to convey the right message at the right place and right time.

These days we longer depend on our desktops or laptops to plan a dinner outside. Rather we take out our phones and begin searching for a local place to dine. Local listings have helped businesses to target such searches, and it’s just going to increase as we move forward.

Also, I can finally view location-based data getting mature in the next year. With this upsurge, both in quality and quantity, we will see higher data usage and businesses seeing better insights. Right from what makes customers in a particular outlet click and upload more pictures, to them voicing their complaints with pictures & moods – location is going to be a very important piece of meta-data.

3. Cross-Device Analytics

If there is any way to prove that an advertisement seen on smartphones has shown a rise in the purchase of items, then it is obvious for marketers to spend more money on smartphone ads. However, things are not always so simple. With consumption of multi-device becoming a standard for users, it becomes essential for marketers to be aware of their customers’ device usage habits and associated detailed analytics.

Identifying users on grounds of desktops vs. tablets vs. smart-phones vs. wearables can make marketers’ understand about their customer’s behavior on all such devices. Also this will help the brands to understand about which devices are more used in research phase, versus in consideration or to make the final purchase. The more a marketer becomes confident about advertising expenditure; easier it becomes to justify more ad spend across devices and channels.

This year platforms will become mature enough to provide such insights. For instance, Facebook now offers targeting, delivering and conversion of measurement of a particular user across multiple devices. This new cross-device report helps advertisers to understand who sees these advertisements and the particular devices wherein conversions subsequently happen. For example: an advertiser is able to see a large number of users clicking advertisements on their iPhones but later on converting via their desktops. It’s only time before other platforms follow this path.

4. Multichannel Analytics – Transmedia Storytelling

Bryan Kramer predicted that the 2015 will see a great push pertaining to Transmedia storytelling. Rather than making a new story limited to actions like tweeting something or making a blog post, marketers will evolve to develop stories that can be consumed across different media. The concept of Transmedia storytelling is connected with a shift towards holistic marketing campaigns.

The journey of a customer begins with the first touchpoint on any media via any device. This can be as simple as mentioning of a product on social networking sites. However, this path flows across different media and traverses devices until that particular customer’s needs change or she dies. And this is the journey multichannel analytics aim to capture. Just like businesses calculate a customer’s TLV (total lifetime value), similarly, marketers will start to create a total media story which will envelop multiple media and devices and different stages from awareness to post-purchases evaluation.

5. More Intelligent Attribution

Founder of Growth Pilots, Soso Sazesh, said that 2015 is the year when businesses will start paying higher attention to multi-channel attribution. It has been seen in the past that attribution modeling is merely touched upon in several organisations due to difficulties in assessment and visibility of the entire conversion path.

As analytics platforms get more and more mature, they make it possible for brands to identify a particular customer’s interaction with the brand. Today, even ad networks allow marketers to get clear depiction of how consumers interact with the brands before and after conversion.

Marketers have been forever stuck with the default last click attribution or sometimes with a mere first click attribution. But recently, I have seen marketers get more and more interested in various other models – right from time decay and U-curve to custom models where a mix of channel and the time spent together decide the contribution of that channel.

And it’s not possible to talk about attribution without mentioning Avinash Kaushik. He has been at the forefront in educating the world about attribution. Get more of the details about attribution modeling on his blog.

6. Increased Acceptance of ‘Marketing Middleware’

Gartner’s Martin Kihn very rightly talks about DMP (data management platform) to be the ‘middleware’ of modern digital marketing. A middleware acts like a bridge and essentially helps to make a connection with 2 or more different systems. DMP, in the last couple of years has come up as a layer and is able to bring together two types of information:

  • Anonymous information identifying users across various channels
  • Non-anonymous information via company databases

As businesses try to reach their customers across various channels, the need of a single repository – a single source of truth and a way to identify its users becomes imperative; with DMP being a feasible solution in most cases. Read more about this awesome analogy from David Raab and Scott Brinker.

7. Predictive Analytics

Google Analytics (or lets say, Web Analytics in general) makes it possible to collect and analyse historical data with regards to user behavior on a website and to some extent social networks; but in most cases, businesses miss a key step when it comes to formulating strategy – predictive analytics.

The interest in predictive analytics has increased as we can see on Google trends. The Reason? I believe the advertisers are starting to need to know as to how the forecast models play in testing and optimization of strategies and thereby ad spend. The days of trial and error are slowly passing by. Marketers are moving towards getting substantiable insights to predict behavior from existing data.

8. Advanced Analytics > BIG Data Analytics

Big data, as a buzzword has been around for the longest time but only a handful of enterprises actually understand how to make the best use of it. Most of you will hate me for saying this, but businesses are now actually getting to understand the importance of only what is called “small data”.

As per a new report resulting from a study commissioned jointly by Dell and International Institute for Analytics, only 20% of the companies they interviewed have made use of any form of big data analytics. However, nearly 71% said that their company is actively participating in near-term strategies to utilize analytics (aka small data) in the decision-making process. Also, almost half reported that they have utilized the advanced analytics (again “small data”) in order to assess and even improve financial performance of a business.

Big data, for most, is still a giant leap. But companies have started to understand that there are intermediate steps to the nirvana called Big data and these interim milestones also present tremendous opportunities.

9. Internet of Things

Advanced analytics will take centre stage when we start to analyse data coming from embedded systems, including wearables, refrigerators, air conditioners and so on. Advertisers will definitely be interested in understanding detailed habits of their customers – on a micro level.

However, what I am looking forward to in 2015 is brands understanding the macro trends when it comes to IoT – say, what change in weather will result in what kind of electricity consumption across a city or a country. Or how can usage of parking spaces be optimized based on the habits of car drivers. IoT needs Big Data as an enabler and it can then start to answer questions that we haven’t even managed to ask.

10. Storytelling – A New Job In Analytics

This should sound interesting. One of the significant attributes required in folks to be employed in the jobs of big data analytics will be their communication skills. As business establishments face obstacles in understanding and adopting analytics, they lay emphasis on the story being told by data, which is unfortunately not a typical strength in most analysts. Hence companies are going to value an expert storyteller – someone who understands the problem, finds it’s answer in numbers and then, is able to present it with a story for you and me to understand and digest. Burrp!

Master your digital marketing analytics in 2015 with our Google Analytics workshop in Singapore.

Image Credits: Hubspot, Tapoueh, Googleapis, Revinate and Zippykid

Sanchit Mendiratta

Sanchit is a Partner at Happy Marketer.