When Intentional first started in 2010, there was only really one digital advertising channel of worth (at least in Australia) – Adwords Search.
As such, data analysis was quite simple as all we needed to do was use Adwords’ native reporting.
Apples and Oranges
Today, however, we have not just Adwords but multiple platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the list goes on, not to mention private 3rd party media placements. Indeed, not even Adwords is simple anymore since in the same interface, we can now control Search, Shopping, Display Network and YouTube.
It’s convenient to just use each platforms’ own native reporting to analyse – but the problem comes when you want to analyse across platforms: eg. How is YouTube performing vs Instagram? How is Display performing vs Facebook? Should budget be taken from Search to go towards Pinterest? Or Vice Versa?
Since each platform measures data slightly differently, the same numbers across different platforms don’t actually mean the same thing.
We are not comparing apples with apples.
Apples and Apples
At Intentional, we’ve chosen to tackle this by instituting Google Analytics to be the primary measure for all channels.
What we mean by this is that we won’t use Adwords’ data about Adwords, or Facebook’s data about Facebook.
Instead we’ll import both Adwords and Facebook data into Analytics and compare both against each other in the same platform. To be sure, using Google Analytics data isn’t without its problems (there is no perfect outcome), but at least this way, we can compare (& report on) all platforms to each other on an apples and apples basis.
We call this philosophy, our Single Source of Truth, or SSoT.
Because Google Analytics can only measure sessions generated from ad clicks, Analytics misses out on an extremely important aspect of Advertising: Impression Assisted Conversions (When you see an ad, don’t click on it, but it reminds you to go to the website organically).
The best that Analytics can do is measure Click-Assisted Conversions (When you do see an ad, click it, but don’t convert straight away, yet do convert at a later time).
Because of this enormous limitation, and because we use Google Analytics as our SSoT, this means that we will always optimise to the most conservative data. It is possible to use a different SSoT, and therefore optimise for Impression Assisted Conversions – but in that case, you’re optimising to the most optimistic data.
At Intentional, we choose to be more conservative – because we would rather your actual sales revenue be greater than our data suggests, than the other way around!