Reporting isn’t the problem.

by | Oct 17, 2019 | Insights

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The amount of time you put into reporting isn’t worth it. A report should be a receipt — or snapshot — of your campaign effort, not the bulk of it. 

Unfortunately, reporting is a huge burden for most of the media and data/analytics teams we talk to. One quote we heard that really stuck with us is:

“Reporting is 1% of my job that takes up 50% of my time.”

There are a lot of reasons for this, as we’ve covered in many previous articles:

If there’s one thing all this should articulate, it’s that another reporting tool is not necessarily the solution. 

The problem is much bigger. Let’s dig into why.

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Reporting is seen as a catchall solution. 

Reporting holds a special place in the campaign process as the articulation of what happened in the campaign, why and what you can learn from it.

If you can follow through on this, reporting is an incredibly powerful tool that shapes not only future campaign performance, but the future of the organization. 

So, why not use it to solve some of your organizations biggest issues? Some are doing just that. 

Transparency is one such issue. The thought is that better, more comprehensive reports will provide insight into where exactly each dollar spent on advertising is going.

In fact, Digiday reports that

 

64% of media buyers “instituted more frequent reporting” to solve for transparency issues.

But let’s take a step back here. If most media buyers are similar to the one mentioned earlier, who spends 50% of their time reporting, is more reporting going to help?

 

Which is why it’s easy to see reporting as the problem. 

It’s too time consuming.

At this rate, all your time is sucked up into wrangling reports while critically important steps of the campaign process go unchecked. 

For instance, if you’re looking for more transparency, the campaign won’t be set up to provide it from the start and there will be hardly any work done while its live to understand what’s happening. 

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This issue compounds as you move forward to new campaigns — you don’t dedicate the time they deserve to be set up properly because you’re stuck on reporting your last campaign. When it comes to report on the new campaign, improper setup makes it even more time consuming to build reports and on and on.

All the while, you’re never getting to the true problem you want to solve: transparency.

 

Bottom-up thinking.

Because this time spent on reporting takes time away from planning and monitoring the campaign, any understanding of what’s going on often has to wait until after it’s over. 

 

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We liken this process to a metaphorical “bucket.” Teams will allow the campaign run however it wants to run and let all the data dump into this big bucket. Once all the data is there, they’ll sort through that bucket to try and make sense of the campaign in reports.

This incentivizes a way of thinking that’s exemplified by this quote from a media director:

“We just turn [our campaigns] on and hope it works.”

Hardly any work is done before the launch of the campaign to ensure it’s run well. Most of the work is done at the end of the campaign by painstakingly sifting through that data “bucket,” which takes time away from preparing for future campaigns. And it all rolls on from there. 

This leads to a pretty straightforward realization: if most of the work is done towards the end of the campaign, the problem must also be located at the end of the campaign as well, right? 

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Current solutions incentivize this way of thinking.

Many business intelligence and marketing intelligence tools build their solutions around this “bucket” approach. 

They might focus on building a bigger bucket that’s much larger than you need or they may focus on giving that bucket certain bells and whistles to help you sift through the data.

OK, we’re stretching the metaphor a bit here, but our point is: there is no incent ive to think about digital advertising problems in a new light. It’s easy to pin it all on reporting because you’re sold tools that are supposed to improve or speed up reporting.

The biggest problem with this is that it locks teams into this perpetual cycle of dependency on this technology. As described by anonymous users in Fishbowl:

Reporting becomes the scapegoat for most of the problems media and data/analytics teams face on a daily basis: proving ROAS, establishing transparency, troubleshooting issues, etc.

They seek solutions for these issues and end up even further locked into this bottom-up process that only exacerbates their core problems

 

But reporting isn’t the problem.

So, reporting is the convenient scapegoat. What’s the core problem? 

Advertising management

It’s the overall process of managing digital advertising campaigns that’s broken, and all the problems it causes piles up at the end when you’re trying to make sense of it all.

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Prioritize planning.

We go much more in-depth in our Media Plans Need to Evolve article, but the gist is to frontload the work of your campaigns. 

You should put much more work into planning, laying out and QA testing your campaign than you do reporting. 

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Know that you want your first report to look like before you launch.

One way to prioritize planning — and a step we highly recommend you start doing  — is to plan out how, exactly, you want your first report to look.

This will ensure you’re building your campaign around your core business objectives and not just “setting and forgetting.”

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Treat reporting as the receipt.

When a properly set up and run campaign (using the right technology) reaches reporting time, it should take no time at all. 

In fact, when we asked our team how long it takes to report using LumenAd, they had trouble answering the question. 

The time has been cut down so much, it’s difficult to estimate the exact amount of time spent on reporting. It just takes a few clicks and you have a report that you can customize to your heart’s content. 

From there, you immediately move onto the more important duties of managing performance, leveraging insights and communicating to campaign stakeholders. 

How good advertising management changes reporting.

A phrase we often use when talking about LumenAd’s reporting capabilities is “roll right into reporting.” Because that’s exactly how it feels. 

It’s no longer the behemoth task you’re dreading. It’s a small part of your campaign management that becomes downright enjoyable. 

Good advertising management makes reporting 1% of your job that takes 1% of your time. This is what LumenAd’s Present Feature Set is designed to do. 

View our Present Feature Set page for an overview →

 

Later this week, we’ll dive deep into how exactly the LumenAd software achieves this. Subscribe below or schedule a demo today to see it in action.

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