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The Future of Digital Measurement and Personalisation

The Problem

Digital measurement at the enterprise level has been driven by two major trends - the use of tags to collect user behaviour and the reliance on SaaS vendors to provide aggregated reporting on digital marketing - both of these trends are at crisis point in 2012.


Tagging represented a significant breakthrough in measurement data collection, enabling widespread access to Web analytics data throughout the organisation. Unfortunately, customised tagging has turned out to be cumbersome, time-consuming process and never-ending. This drives IT organizations crazy and raises the cost of switching tools - locking many enterprises into unwanted measurement solutions.


Web analytics tools, too, are in something of a crisis-moment. When a measurement vendor is collecting vast amounts of Web data for thousands of clients, providing deep access to that data isn't easy. Vendors focus on providing the set of reports that meet the needs of most clients but, as a consequence, Web analytics tools provide little or no access to detailed data, customer level analysis, and little or no ability to do advanced analytics or customer-based testing.


What’s the latest?

Organisations have rapidly started to investigate internal and cloud-based warehousing solutions that provide much deeper data access and integration.


Today's warehousing technologies provides rich, flexible integration of virtually any form of data. This makes it much easier to drive outbound services and if your organisation is interested in actually using Web data to drive personalisation, targeting, or CRM support, this outbound capability is critical.


The #1 priority in enterprise marketing is to increase the relevancy (and, thereby, the efficiency) of digital communications. To do this, data is used to generate "micro-decisions" about what to show or offer the customer. While these micro-decisions are based on rules that don't need to be developed in real-time, the data used to make each individual decision must be available in real-time. The single most important thing to know about a customer is "what they are doing right now."


There's a perception that this real-time decision-making is the domain of black-box optimisation techniques; however a good analyst with the correct tools is far more capable of building meaning out of data.


We have a problem...

In digital analytics, two huge challenges face any technology designed to support digital marketing analytics. First, there's the small question of getting the data in to the warehouse. Nearly all current digital data warehouses rely on data feeds from existing tagging systems. Not only do these systems carry-forward the problems that have brought tagging to a crisis point, they introduce severe delays into the system - making real-time decisioning impossible. If you're building an infrastructure to support marketing personalisation, you need to look beyond your Web analytics tool to an infrastructure specifically designed for the task.


Equally problematic is the question of how to understand digital data. You can't build effective marketing campaigns that focus on how many pages a visitor viewed or how long their visit lasted. If you don't have a meaningful data model for incorporating digital data into your view of the Customer, your data warehousing effort is going to fail.


The future of digital measurement

Web analytics tools have expanded their range and sophistication dramatically but still deliver only a small fraction of the analysis capabilities necessary for segmentation, personalisation, or interesting site testing, and provide virtually no customer-level analysis.


Collection, aggregation, and segmentation/personalisation/testing have all, to date, been too generic, too focused on levels beyond the customer, and too siloed. As organisations embrace the analytics warehouse, there is an unprecedented opportunity to solve all these problems in new ways. Organisations should be thinking about the long-term measurement infrastructure: one that will provide robust data collection in a truly maintainable fashion and that will support real-time data collection and the robust digital data model necessary to take advantage of all that capability.


Semphonic is hosting X Change Europe, the premier conference for Web analytics professionals, in Berlin from May 29-31, 2012.