What is Multi-Channel Analytics? Is it just a Glorified Dashboard?

Google Analytics: Tracking Online and Offline Worlds

For some time now, Google Analytics have offered the ability to track both website visits and television commercial impressions (views), if the commercial was bought via Google.

The graph has always shown a peak of what multi-channel analytics can look like: a single dashboard to see everything from TV commercials to mailed newsletters influences your website traffic and online sales. But TV Impressions v. Website Visits graph also begs the question:

What’s the correlation between TV Commercials and Website Views?

Understanding correlation and causation -essentially, understanding your media mix – is the holy grail and end goal of Multi-Channel Analytics. It’s one thing to track something and say “Gee golly, I can see my radio audience reach and PPC campaign on one sheet!” and it’s another to solve Wanamaker‘s question: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Solving “How does this offline channel affect my website?”

For very easy graphs like the Google Analytics graphs, the equation is easy for any statistician to derive (yes, marketers need to re-read their college stat books):

  • Total Website Visits = ~1.90 * TV Impression + 340,566.1 website visits

And here’s equation applied against my version of the Google Analytics graph:

Not bad, huh? Unfortunately, the real world is different with a lot more variables: multiple marketing channels, geographic differences, seasonality, public relations efforts, multiple cross-channel campaigns and more introduce a host of variables that effect a websites traffic and online sales.

Huge companies like Proctor & Gamble have entire teams dedicated to media mix modeling with some even using something called “agent based modeling” (used by the military) to determine how their massive multi-million dollar and cross-channel marketing campaigns effect sales.

So the question is: how will analytics companies like Omniture and CoreMetrics be able to extend multi-channel marketing tools into solutions that can solve the question:

“What types of marketing campaigns mixes generate the most sales?”



Where did I get the data?
I carefully recreated the television data based on the 4,444,444 impressions over 30 days and created website data that would fit the Google Analytics graph. See below:

What analysis did I do to get the graph?

A simple linear regression analysis that any Microsoft Excel or TI-83 calculator can do.

How accurate is your analysis?
In real world applications? Probably not very. The equation works if we assume the relationship between the television commercial impressions and website visits is overly simplified: if you get X many commercials impressions, you’ll get Y amount of website visits.



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2 responses to “What is Multi-Channel Analytics? Is it just a Glorified Dashboard?”

  1. urban_ mermaid Avatar

    Daniel, I agree that this is one of the trickiest things to get a handle on — measuring the effectiveness of any medium on a desired business action is always much more an art, although there’s a heavy dose of science too.

    Most of the companies I’ve worked for have been concerned with properly getting the amount of traffic from brand advertising & pr activity. These have generally been credited with what’s “left over.”

    It’s somewhat easier in the web world, since the direct marketing vehicles such as SEM & display can be connected with a click (and let us not speak of the actual user intent or branding effect of these vehicles). Then you have to look at new vs. existing users. within existing users, drilling down into when the last time the user was on the site is useful. Traffic quality gives you a sense of the advertising is not only effective, but effective at driving the *right* kind of users.

    Going back to the broader question, there’s a ton of tools to bring all the data into one dashboard – for CPG companies, it can include things like FSIs, coupons, along with TV, competitive activity, etc. For us, I might include competitive product launches, big events that drive search activity (e.g. back to school, breaking news stories), along with all the marketing activities. You also have to take a healthy dose of reality and historicals to see if these are trends or real movement.

    We develop complicated models to reflect the totality of the experience, and then have to augment with a series of qualitative measures to really assess the actual performance.

    We should have a round table discussion on this at some point.

  2. Daniel R Avatar
    Daniel R

    Hi Urban_Mermaid,

    Thanks for commenting. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that I have general sense of hesitation over the increasing push to put offline/online marketing data on one dashboard.

    It is helpful of course, but what is implied is that if you can have your offline and online data in one report, you can easily see what channels are most effective.

    As you said, to make it work requires effective coordination, planning and modeling (trackable URLs, coupon codes, scheduling launches), but I think mid-sized companies see the dashboard and not the planning behind it to make it effective nor that analysis on them to get actionable intelligence.

    This has been a challenge for me, as mid-sized companies look to do bigger things but may not be prepared to build the process in place to take that on.

    As for panels, that would be great. I’ve been to 1-2 media mix case studies sessions, which was nerdy fun for me.

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