Carpenters Are Lousy Media Buyers

Why the woodworking adage of ‘measure twice and cut once’ doesn’t work in digital media

If a carpenter was to manage a digital media campaign his first instinct would be to use as many measurement tools as possible before cutting a publisher/network from a plan. However, when he starts to compare the data from his ad server to his site analytics or to his sales reporting tool he is going to be flabbergasted that nothing matches.

For over a decade digital media has touted its measurability as a key benefit. Marketers and media buyers have latched on to that promise and now employ everything from third-party ad servers, site analytics, sales analytics and more to generate a sea of data.

With multiple tools measuring the same key performance indicators marketers and media managers have the difficult task of reconciling data from these varied sources. What they have learned is that site analytics and ad serving data will not match click_for-click, visit-for-visit. There are a variety of reasons ranging from differences in counting methodologies to how each tool defines something as simple as a “visit”.

Hell, if Google can’t get its ad serving data (from DFA) to seamlessly match its site analytics data (Google Analytics) no one can. The best that one can hope for is that trending aligns; if it doesn’t then you have a problem.

So what’s a marketer or media manager to do?
Start by deciding what business actions will be measured by what tool. Now stick to that decision. For example, if you want to make a media decision on what publishers/networks to include on a campaign then look at the media tool, in this case the ad server data, to make that decision.

If a carpenter wants to make the move to digital media he will have to curtail his natural instincts and measure once before making any cuts.