As marketers, we are constantly being asked to do more with less — whether it comes to paid media campaigns, email marketing or creating world-class websites — so how do we maximize our return on investment? Industry experts will share strategies & illustrative case studies focused on creating the right digital mktg measurement, ensuring your …

As marketers, we are constantly being asked to do more with less — whether it comes to paid media campaigns, email marketing or creating world-class websites — so how do we maximize our return on investment?

Adam Cossman, Chief Digital Officer of W2O, Chuck Hemann, Managing Director of Analytics at W2O, and Jessica Williams, Senior Director of Global Brand and Digital Products Marketing at Visa, will share proven strategies and illustrative case studies focused on employing data-driven approaches to maximize return to your marketing investment. Register today!


If you’re interested in knowing more about W2O, check out our About page or learn how analytics powers everything we do.

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Our brains are the most powerful “computers” on earth.  We store memories from childhood onward that stick with us for the rest of our lives.  We create habits that shape how we think for decade after decade.  We’re exposed to thousands upon thousands of images, articles and ads every day that refine how we think.   …

Our brains are the most powerful “computers” on earth.  We store memories from childhood onward that stick with us for the rest of our lives.  We create habits that shape how we think for decade after decade.  We’re exposed to thousands upon thousands of images, articles and ads every day that refine how we think.   Our brains are always on and they are capturing far more information than we realize.

We create our subconscious mind for our entire lifetime.  It drives our intuition.  It helps us form our immediate first impression.  It causes us to flinch or laugh immediately.  Our subconscious drives more of our decisions than we truly appreciate.  It is the best partner of our conscious mind.

Of course, we don’t often appreciate this as intensely as we should in the marketing world.

We often ask questions of our potential customers, which means that short-term memory kicks in and we can only remember an average of 3-7 items per topic.  So, our life’s knowledge reservoir remains largely untapped.

We monitor conversations of our customers to judge how they view our brands, yet 90% of us don’t engage in writing content or speaking online on a regular basis.  We are really analyzing the 1% and the 9% who do shape the market, but don’t represent the total market.

Too often, we focus on the conscious mind and forget the subconscious aspects of reaching our customers effectively.

The cynic might say “yeah, but if we really know exactly what everyone is saying, we basically know all we need to”.   My simple response is the following: “Would you mind sharing all of your political, religious, familial and other personal updates on all social channels every day?  If you have any health questions or issues, could you share those with us also?”  All of us know we don’t do that.  We ask our “friends” at Google or Bing to help us out in private.

In the future, we’ll think of search as not a tool to just reach people who ask questions, but as a body of evidence that shows exactly what the subconscious mind is of a customer or a market segment or even an industry.

It sounds daunting, but it isn’t that bad at all due to the simple fact that human beings always follow predictable patterns.  When it comes to queries, you can usually focus on about 100-150 queries made for any topic, look at as many screens as you like (let’s say 10) per query and then analyze this body of content to come up with a gold mine of insights.

We can see which outlets matter and why.  We can see which people and organizations drive the SEO experience.  We can see which topics are trending well before they make a difference in the mainstream.  And more.

We are basically peering into the subconscious mind of our customer.  If we look close enough, we can find new answers and see what’s next a tiny bit earlier than our peers.

The result is that “search” is really about to become (Re)Search and it will lead to a series of new models that improve media relations, issues management, media planning, trend analysis, competitive intelligence and, of course, search itself.

My colleague, Alan Garcia, is pioneering a new suite of models that can address many of the core customer experience issues raised for years by luminaries such as Pete Blackshaw, start to build new media efficiency models that will make it far more clear where waste exists for advertisers and it will make it easier for all of us to create solutions that represent the whole brains of customers.

It also means we need to stop thinking of search in the way we’ve been taught and start thinking of search as a gold mine of customer experience and a way to increase our knowledge base.

In Prince’s case, he changed his name to disassociate himself from his record label.  In this case, we just need to stop pigeon-holing search as “one tool in the toolbox” and realize it is a Permian Basin of insights ready to tap into.

Will be fun.  More in posts ahead.

PS/Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers out there.  Make sure you thank the Mothers and Grandparents who make it possible to be a decent Father.

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Today our own Chuck Hemann, sat down on Nasdaq Speed Reads to discuss all things digital marketing analytics.

He dives into:

  • The second edition of his latest book, Digital Marketing Analytics
  • The inevitable marriage between data and marketing
  • How the analytics industry has shifted for analysts and brands
  • GDPR (of course)

Check out the interview below.


If you’re interested in knowing more about W2O, check out our About page. Interested in learning how analytics powers everything we do?

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I ask a lot of questions throughout my day that relate to a wide range of topics. These topics include restaurant recommendations, product reviews, health related research, and even financial advice. The questions I ask, and the information I use to answer them, are a reflection of who I am. I go to search engines …

I ask a lot of questions throughout my day that relate to a wide range of topics. These topics include restaurant recommendations, product reviews, health related research, and even financial advice. The questions I ask, and the information I use to answer them, are a reflection of who I am. I go to search engines to get that information, and so do countless others.

Search is a fundamental pillar of digital interaction. It taps into a low-level of human behavior that comes before conversation. The intellectual capital gained from the careful study of search can drive entire market strategies. In fact, massive giants like Amazon attribute early success to an effective organic search strategy centered around leveraging their enormous product taxonomy. Well-informed search strategies can be used to reduce barrier to entry in new markets, secure market leadership in existing, and maximize return on your media investment.

Keywords are half the story

Search engines are smart enough to know that when I ask a question about “black sand,” I should get back “beach” related information. That’s because, machine learning aside, enough people asked the same thing and found “beach” related media to be relevant. At their core, search engines draw connections between questions (in the form of keywords) and content (in the form of articles, videos, and other media). This is becoming more and more relevant as people become more and more comfortable asking their questions to search engines in natural language.

We put emphasis on keywords for a good reason. How people choose to phrase their questions, and how many questions they care about for a given topic, are valuable insights. After all, asking a question is the first point of interaction between a person and a search engine. But, that’s only half the story.

The search engine takes those keywords as an input and gives the user back a set of results for their consideration. Users interact with search engines a second time when they decide, with a click, which specific result was most useful. This second step closes a feedback loop that allows search engines to optimize their output for relevance. Search engines are essentially super-gigantic, human sorted, information libraries that contain deeply nested insights about our audience.

Keep your eye on the ball

If we put our focus on search results, we can start to see how they mirror our audience and their underlying intent. We can ask questions like what people, brands, competitors, and topics (including sensitive issues) are present and what share they have of your audience’s attention.

Not only can you measure your share of search visibility, you can assign it a dollar value. How much would you have to pay to buy back your organic presence on search? In other words, what is the media cost equivalency of your organic search footprint? This is an important value to keep an eye on as it is a measurable reflection of your brand equity and reputation. Executive leadership, investors, and clients gain strategic advantage by monitoring and optimizing against this core KPI.

What is your strategy?

In “Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works,” Roger Martin frames strategy as a set of choices that determine “where to play and how to win” for a brand. The intelligence you base these choices on should strive for completeness of perspective, relevance with your consumer, and ultimately provide a reliable bedrock on which to center your strategic activities. If you plan on playing in digital media markets, your market intelligence should include all relevant digital media, with search at its core.

Are you actively incorporating search into your market research? Do you know your brand’s share of search media value in your category? Do you have a plan to nurture and protect it? These questions, and your answers to them, significantly impact your competitive advantage in digital markets and determine whether or not you will win.

Keep as close of an eye on your search value as you do your bottom line. Why? Because, search is money.

~ Alan

In our next piece, we’ll discuss the value of plotting and analyzing the search media landscape for competitors, people, and topics. We’ll also talk about how these insights reduce market-entry barriers.


If you’re interested in knowing more about W2O, check out our About page.

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Digital marketers intuitively know that a personalized and seamless customer experience is more effective, more engaging, and ultimately good for business. Personalization at scale is not easy though, and it’s a significant investment for brands in people, process and technology. To compound the personalization challenge, online privacy concerns are at an inflection point. GDPR regulations …

Digital marketers intuitively know that a personalized and seamless customer experience is more effective, more engaging, and ultimately good for business. Personalization at scale is not easy though, and it’s a significant investment for brands in people, process and technology.

To compound the personalization challenge, online privacy concerns are at an inflection point. GDPR regulations in Europe and any number of recent data breaches and privacy scandals in the United States are creating a situation in which the detailed individual data that brands need in order to achieve that personalization is becoming more expensive, legally tricky or impossible to get.

Does that mean brands should give up on personalization? Absolutely not!

To prove the point, the software and technology giant Adobe recently tried to quantify just how much more effective, engaging and good for business that personalized experiences can be. At their recent Adobe Summit Digital Marketing Conference in Las Vegas, they highlighted the performance of businesses that focus on customer experience over other priorities, and that they can expect serious results compared to companies that don’t. The report conducted in conjunction with Forrester noted that experience focused businesses saw a 1.6x increase in brand awareness, 1.9x increase in average order value, 1.6x increase in customer lifetime value, and 36% faster revenue growth rates among others.

Source: Adobe

Connected, consistent and memorable customer experiences that drive results like Adobe is touting require marketing technologies to know who you are and to be able to provide content that is relevant and personalized to you at that moment.

Knowing who you are across every digital device you interact with is no easy feat – and MarTech is now rising to the challenge with CDPs (Customer Data Platforms), DMPs, and more advanced CRMs. These platforms organize first, second and third-party data cross-channel and cross-device, and attempt to link it all to unified customer profiles. Even when on a different device or logged out, these systems will attempt to identify website visitors via other identifiers such as browser configuration, social handles, behavioral patterns and so on.

While knowing who you are is key, companies then need to be able to deliver relevant and personalized content to you. Massive content libraries with proper taxonomy and meta data are needed to meet the needs of 1-1 personalization at scale, and that requires significant investment in content itself in addition to new systems technology. AI and Machine Learning tools are now starting to play a role in creating all that content, enabling companies to generate the needed content in far more efficient and surprisingly automated ways.

Once a brand has a centralized view of their customers, and has the content to deliver to them, then they can take advantage of the thousands of solutions that connect to and use that customer data and content to personalize the customer experience. This kind of ecosystem is what drives significant business results.

All that being true, in an age of increasing privacy concerns it makes sense to now consider the balance between expected privacy and the personal data required to deliver highly personalized experiences.  The European Union’s GDPR regulations become enforceable this May, and they very clearly state that explicit permission must be given to collect and use personal data. Marketers may be wise to assume that similar regulation will happen eventually here in the United States, and this will put second party data sharing and third party data under the microscope.

If that happens, we can expect that audience and customer data will become less accessible due to the difficulties in obtaining and documenting consent. The large martech stacks have already begun making potentially sensitive data less available – reports now indicate that Google will no longer let buyers pull DoubleClick ID from DCM. While they point to GDPR as the reason, this move will certainly result in other large vendors making similar moves, and this will start pushing brands more fully into their ecosystems in order to continue to take advantage of personal data.

In addition to vendor consolidation, websites and owned digital properties – which primarily rely first-party and completely anonymous behavior tracking data for personalization and optimization – will become even more important in ensuring the quality of the overall digital experience. Consider these changing privacy concerns when designing your brands personalization data, tech and content strategy.

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Organizations of all types and sizes are under increasing pressure and scrutiny to locate and make best use of as much data as they can to inform decisions of all kinds. From initial discovery and exploratory topics specific to customer or patient optimization paths, internal and external data can illuminate many issues for marketers and …

Organizations of all types and sizes are under increasing pressure and scrutiny to locate and make best use of as much data as they can to inform decisions of all kinds. From initial discovery and exploratory topics specific to customer or patient optimization paths, internal and external data can illuminate many issues for marketers and communicators at all levels. But what does that really look like? What kinds of data should teams consider, and what can it do to improve their advantage?

Most marketers (well over half of surveyed B2B and B2C respondents) think in terms of traditional sources when they think ‘data’ – online analytics, email data, survey or CRM data*. However, we at W2O have worked with a wide variety of clients and platforms to identify unique sources of input that are quite revealing, especially when looking at unstructured data that can provide hints at language or a decision process we can’t see in another way. Sometimes the best insights come from the most unexpected touchpoints.

With over 75K installs of forum management software and massive group forums like Reddit, even Facebook, and specialty groups like Cancer Survivors Network or Stack Overflow, it’s easy to see why forums seem like such a rich target for us to try to understand. However, contextualizing this unstructured, freeform language into more structured data that we can use and understand can be a real challenge. Integrating this data so we can align it with other, more structured data can make it even more useful as we think about how to craft KPIs and firm reporting, too. eMarketer reported that nearly 60% of B2B Marketing and Sales professionals in the US consider actionable analytics and reporting functions very important when selecting a marketing vendor. This is where smarter tools can come into play as we look to understand how customers or patients speak in real life – to each other, about their situation, and with a trust because they know that everyone else in that forum is there for the same reason.

At W2O, we rely a lot on making inferences from on how people talk in this way – “I have lung cancer” instead of, “I am a small cell cancer patient” – and creating labeled groupings from there. We can use these language insights to help clients understand their patients/customers better and relate to how they use language in a natural way. “It’s helping us build a more complete patient lexicon that not only helps us relate to patients better, but also lets us improve and expedite future research – when we know what we are looking for, it’s much easier to find,” says Kevin Johnson, W2O President of Marketeching. Johnson shared that while we spend a lot of time with trained Linguists combing through and analyzing written copy, we are also working to eliminate entries that are clearly off-topic with automated Data Sciences tools. These insights also help frame messaging in a way that is truly audience-first, since we are able to speak their language.

While many marketers and comms pros think we need a large sample set to make our data worth investigating, W2O teams have found a different result when evaluating specialty audiences. The best data for deep insights often comes from the most detailed and specific data that lets you see your audience clearly, and that often comes where they are speaking to like-minded peers. Johnson shared, “For us, it’s often Facebook or advocacy groups – those people that understand themselves best. Even with a sometimes-smaller group, it’s more accurate, and we can build to volume over time”. Statistical relevance is key.

Internal data like online or app analytics, or purchase and transactional data can be extremely valuable in this regard, too, since it shows you the actual behavior of your customer. However, connecting that end-point behavior back to intent can be very difficult, especially if you are in a B2B or complex environment. Regardless, every small indicator can provide a clue to what your audiences are thinking and how they will respond to your changes. Even in siloed organizations, every clue will help you assemble a little more of your audience picture so you can continue to drive toward your own advantage.

As Brad Feinberg, Senior Director: Media & Consumer Engagement, MillerCoors put it at our recent W2O SXSW events,”it can be a challenge to get data from the silos inside your organization, but when you make it happen, it’s completely worth it.”

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This, and other takeaways and tips from the PR News Measurement Conference The W2O Group and I were grateful to have been asked to speak at  The PR News Measurement Conference recently. PR News brought together speakers, sponsors, and attendees representing a cross section of private and public-sector communicators, agency, academia, and research foundations for …

This, and other takeaways and tips from the PR News Measurement Conference

The W2O Group and I were grateful to have been asked to speak at  The PR News Measurement Conference recently. PR News brought together speakers, sponsors, and attendees representing a cross section of private and public-sector communicators, agency, academia, and research foundations for two full days of programming.  I spoke about the importance of influencers (identifying, understanding, engaging, tracking).  I also had the honor of helping to close the conference with a Baker’s Half Dozen observations, key moments, notable quotes and emerging themes.   I’ve adapted those here and added four more to round out a list of top ten takeaways and tips.

Top Ten Takeaways & Tips

  1.  Make management a part of your measurement journey.  If there was a single most frequently recurring theme at the conference it was to do with senior leadership into whom communicators report.  Concern over what senior management expects, understands, aligns with and supports.  Panelists who raised this (and attendees that asked about it) all described themselves as being on varying stages of a journey.   Panelists and attendees both described a need to evolve their measurement to position communications less as a cost center and more as generating value for their organizations.  Communications is under increasing pressure to use data (the lingua franca of senior leadership) and scorecards (the visual vernacular of senior leadership) to help tell a c-suite, boardroom-ready story of progress.  In this context, measurement is best seen–speakers suggested–as improvement not justification.  And to improve, what we as communicators put in front of leadership has got to surface insights that lead to conversations about strategic and tactical adjustments.  Key to this, however, is support from management on and alignment with a rigorous approach to measurement that is mindful of objectives, regards a framework, includes multiple meaningful metrics and leads to a culture that is open to acting on the results.  It’s a journey W2O is helping clients with.
  2.   Start somewhere. What’s that saying about a thousand-mile journey beginning with a single step?  One delegate noted that the conference was like a giant support group with those further along on their journey comforting those not quite so advanced.  The tip here is to start somewhere, start small and evolve over time.  Test and fail.  Fail fast.  One panelist encouraged delegates to “pilot the seemingly outlandish and impossible.”  W2O client Aetna has been on a journey to get to an ever-more data-driven communications operation.  Kieran Fagan, VP of Communications at Aetna presented a case study ( How Aetna is Transforming its Communications with Consistent Metrics  ) that outlined a six-step plan.   1)  State your intent about shifting toward being data-driven.  2)  Answer the big question:  so what?  3)  Count what you can but don’t overdo it.  4)  Tie it to your story; your narrative themes.  5) Bring it to the business.  Socialize it.  Solicit feedback.  Acclimate to it.  6) Don’t run a victory lap as measurement is an ever-evolving journey.
  3. Start with the start in mind. It’s corny, but I like to say that KPIs are easy as pie if we’ve done the harder upfront work of clearly identifying objectives.  I was once a PRSA awards judge and noticed so many plans confused goals, objectives, strategies and tactics into one big aspirational slide.  That confuses measurement.  Clarity helps us measure by objective not tactic, nor channel.  It helps us put the audience at the center.  KPIs, scorecards, dashboards, and reports are far easier to design with that clarity.  A former colleague coined a hashtag that’s fitting here:  #YOMO:  year of the measurable objective.
  4. Embrace a framework. An audience, funnel, journey, path to (purchase or some other appropriate action and advocacy) can be enormously helpful in organizing objectives, KPIs, methods and data sources as part of a measurement framework.  And it helps PR align with colleagues in marketing.  There are many such funnels out there.  Some from the measurement-centric industry associations.  Many variations of which, conference speakers presented.  I was encouraged so many presented at this conference; many more that I’ve seen in similar conferences past.  At W2O we use a funnel (Awareness > inter-Action > Attitude > Action > Advocacy) to help challenge ourselves and clients to think about outcomes as much as output.  A framework encourages us to think more broadly and avoid thinking about a specific touchpoint or the effect of a single post.  Despite Kylie Jenner’s ability to drive down Snap’s stock value by $1.3 billion in a single day with a single Tweet, we’ve got to be thinking bigger.  The long-standing preference for measuring every individual touchpoint at a user-level misses the forest for the trees.
  5. Stop looking for a single, killer, ROI metric.  Nope, no thanks. Don’t do it.  It’s a race to the bottom.  It limits our thinking before we’ve even started.  Rather, let’s think about multiple metrics in each tier of the funnel, journey, path.  Let’s think about demonstrating multiple tiers of shift, progress, and value using multiple, increasingly sophisticated methods to do so.  Impressions were frequently cited at the conference as the most commonly used but most problematic and least popular metric.  One metric on a slide at the conference caused a bit of a stir and spurred a tweet from Katie Paine that sums up the challenge nicely: “for the record, re: impressions, there are 7.4 billion people on Earth. Less than half have computers, access to the internet or electricity. Even fewer care about your brand/message/product. So when you say you’ve reached 10 billion people, you have lost all credibility.”  No question the metric has a credibility problem.  I think impressions do have a place in measurement with two very important caveats:  1) that we look it as one among multiple metrics, not THE metric, and 2) that we look at impressions among very specific target audiences we want to reach (via audience/stakeholder/influencer-specific listening panels) and that we look at impressions for only those media outlets (and influencers) that matter to those audiences and that generating sharing.
  6. Embrace ever-more audience specificity. While there were occasional hints of this at the conference, I expected to hear and see more focus on audiences.  Delegates seemed, in principle, to recognize that the days of “spray and pray” are over and that we’re in a new era of focusing on who matters, who matters to them, what matters, how and where it will matter.  We’re seeing an acute shift from a coverage model to a community and conversation model.  But there seems to be a gap between acknowledging the challenge and addressing it.
  7. It’s time to face the fear. There were several moments and remarks at the conference that surfaced challenges with peers in marketing.  I think a certain amount of tension between the two can be healthy and productive.  I was a touch surprised not to hear more calls from either panelist or delegates to face the fear of marketing, fix the friction, embrace integrated marketing communications (as graduate degree programs did 20 years ago) and be comfortable in their new cross-PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) context.  There was a surprising sense of us vs. them or otherness in the room.  It’s time to break through that.  It’s where the industry has been headed and where W2O has been headed for some time.
  8. Skill sets for the next generation communicator are shifting:  It comes up at every measurement conference typically as someone is asking one of the first questions of the day.  “I went into PR because I hate math.”  Those days are gone, in my view.  I’m not about to tell my six-year-old daughter that it’s OK for her not to worry about math if she wants a career in PR.  Major organizations are hiring staff into corporate communications departments at the director (or higher) level with a mandate of driving more data-driven communications.  They are auditing then augmenting headcount, staff skills, tools, methods, output and processes.  This theme came up several times throughout the conference with a call for hiring more resources with blended backgrounds, curiosity, critical thinking, a willingness to test hypotheses, a basic grounding in research methods, some knowledge of business intelligence tools.  We’re practicing that preach here @ W2O.  Out of our 600 agency staff, more than 100 are analysts, some of whom are account – analytics hybrids.
  9. Get to know your in-house market research folks. Some PR practitioners in large organizations haven’t met their own internal market research groups.  Agencies often play the role of matchmaker in suggesting that connection.  It’s commonly the case when you get these groups together and talk about wants, needs, challenges, and ideas that good things happen.  I didn’t hear as much on this as I’d have hoped at the conference and it is so crucial.  One example:  it’s important to align one’s media content analysis with the brand and reputation tracking studies that most organizations have running.
  10. Measurement isn’t a cost.  It’s cost-saver.  This, too, comes up at every conference.  The idea that a client can’t afford measurement.  And that if they did some measurement, it would mean less tactical programming.  Fewer releases, events, pitches, opeds, whitepapers, influencers engaged and so on.  That’s a justification not an optimization argument.  Most who do measurement for a living have evidence that suggests that measurement helps fine tune execution and that there’s ample room for both measurement and smarter, data-driven execution.  I always counter the “I can’t afford this” with “can you afford not to?”  Measurement helps keep and grow headcount, it grows budget and it helps communicators so no to tactical ideas that data shows isn’t optimal.

I’ll leave off where we began and that is to suggest, that, like happiness, measurement is a journey not destination. Are you on a measurement journey?  Where are you on your journey? We’d love to hear from you.

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Having been in the analytics and digital marketing fields for the last 15 years, few industries have changed as much as digital marketing, advertising and analytics. When I started my career, most of us in the analytics profession were spending time measuring the output of very traditional campaigns. We certainly weren’t tapping into social media …

Having been in the analytics and digital marketing fields for the last 15 years, few industries have changed as much as digital marketing, advertising and analytics. When I started my career, most of us in the analytics profession were spending time measuring the output of very traditional campaigns. We certainly weren’t tapping into social media data like we do today, and much of the digital marketing research was done utilizing syndicated research tools exclusively. Today, there’s more data than we could ever possibly utilize, and there are more analytics pros adept at taking advantage of multiple data sources in order to develop actionable insights.

Those changes that we’ve seen over the last 15 years were the impetus for us to write, “Digital Marketing Analytics: Making Sense of Consumer Data in a Digital World” back in April 2013. Our intention then was to provide a guidebook for marketers and communicators to navigate an increasingly complex ecosystem of data sources, tools and techniques to understand the impact programs were having on their businesses.  We also wanted to show those audiences how they could use those tools and data sources to better understand content performance, how their audience behaved and where information was being shared that was important to the company’s they worked for. Because of the state of the industry at the time, we spent a considerable amount of time focusing on tools that marketers and communicators could use in order to scale. We also spent a lot of print real-estate on social media because we understood it to be something these audiences were struggling with how to harness.

Toward the end of 2017 we reviewed where the industry was and what the book covered, and decided it needed a refresh. The tools were out of date, there was more of a focus on paid media than ever before and some of the frameworks that we captured in our first book were now in need of a refresh. Thankfully, the good folks at Pearson agreed with our assessment and we began to write, “Digital Marketing Analytics: Making Sense of Consumer Data in a Digital World (2nd Edition).” Our aim for the book is still the same: to provide marketers and communicators an opportunity to understand their audience, develop the right sorts of content, distribute it across the right channels and measure the right metrics. That being said, if you do decide to purchase the book (thank you), you will see seven major shifts from the first version of the book.

Those seven major shifts are:

  1. Tools and technology have changed dramatically over the last 5 years, but what hasn’t changed as quickly is the ability to use those tools to scale people and process. You will notice that we’ve eliminated all of our tools chapters, and instead focused the discussion on how a marketing technology stack should come together, how it should be rolled out and how it should evolve over time.
  2. Digital media channels have truly converged, which makes understanding how the audience behaves through analytics even more crucial. It isn’t enough anymore to use only one data source in order to answer critical business questions. An appropriate approach utilizes data across paid media channels, earned media channels, owned media channels and shared media channels.
  3. Most organizations are still struggling with how to measure their digital marketing programs, but it doesn’t need to be that way. There are more ways than ever to measure marketing effectiveness, and the data is more than available. Unfortunately, many businesses have been duped into measuring the wrong things. It doesn’t need to be that way any longer.
  4. Taking a channel-first approach to developing insights is dead. Taking an audience-first, or integrated campaign view to insights generation is the new normal. Every digital strategist that I’ve ever worked with always tells me the same thing: “Tell me something about my audience that helps me reach them more effectively.” Thankfully for all of us, the data exists to do just that for our digital strategy partners.
  5. The tension between privacy and the growing volume of data that we can use as marketers is going to continue well into the future. We close the book, much like we did in the first version, with a look into the future. Privacy is something we only expect to intensify over the coming months and years.
  6. Paid media is an even greater focus now versus five years ago. Admittedly, the first version of our book talked more about earned and shared media activities versus paid, but with organic reach becoming increasingly impossible (if it isn’t already) we thought it was important to spend more time talking about how paid media analytics fits into the overall analytics plans of an organization.
  7. The usage of digital data is more strategic than it was five years ago. While the application of this data for measurement, audience and content analysis is important, it’s simply the tip of the spear. We’re seeing more companies than ever feeding this data into product development, customer service and strategic planning. A trend we expect to only continue from here.

The shifts in digital marketing, advertising and analytics are only going to intensify over the next five years, but it’s our hope that “Digital Marketing Analytics” provides marketers and communicators alike a foundation to navigate those choppy waters. We’re excited to hear what you think!

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One of the most common questions we get from clients heading into HIMSS is: What’s trending? After all, booths, badges and general bacchanalia at the world’s largest healthcare technology conference don’t come cheap. It helps to know what topics, issues, executives, media, speakers, influencers and brands are trending up…down…or in between. Smart marketers and communicators …

One of the most common questions we get from clients heading into HIMSS is: What’s trending? After all, booths, badges and general bacchanalia at the world’s largest healthcare technology conference don’t come cheap. It helps to know what topics, issues, executives, media, speakers, influencers and brands are trending up…down…or in between. Smart marketers and communicators and their CEOs invest in these insights to inform their message, cut through the clutter and make stronger connections.

So, on the eve of HIMSS18, me and my fellow army of digital health nerds at W2O Group thought it would be worthwhile to share some such insights. HIMSS itself does provide a bit of a petri dish to understand how market conversations are trending.

Like kids in a candy store, the W2O Group analytics team dug into the data, comparing social discussions in the weeks and months before HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17. [i]  More specifically, they viewed public data through the lens of the MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem, which maps online behavior and digital footprints of more than 870,000 stakeholders worldwide, including doctors, patients, industry CXOs, hospitals, payers, technology vendors, advocacy organizations, media, analysts and among many others). For this particular analysis, we analyzed tweets mentioning HIMSS from verified authors in the Health Ecosystem.

Below are five takeaways from W2O’s pre-HIMSS18 social conversation analysis:  

1. The unofficial HIMSS prom court: If HIMSS had a prom court, Rasu Shrestha (@RasuShrestha) and Geeta Nayer, MD, (@gnayar) would be dubbed King and Queen, with Janae Sharp (@CoherenceMed), Danielle Siarri (@innonurse), Nick van Terheyden, MD (@drnic1), Charles Webster, MD (@WareFLO), Linda Stotsky (@EMRAnswers), Colin Hung (@Colin_Hung) and Max Stroud (@MMaxwellStroud) rounding out the group. The qualifier for this particular court is most mentioned handles within the HIMSS conversation from January 2017 to February 2018.

2. Social communities are thriving: Social groups and Twitter-based movements are a staple within the broader HIMSS conversation and engagement landscape. For example, #hcldr, which represents the weekly healthcare leader tweet chat/community, #HITsm, which is related to the healthcare IT social media gang and weekly tweet chat, and #pinksocks, which stands for the “PinkSocks Tribe” (whose members you’ll see wearing said color socks with curious mustaches on them at conferences) are all among the top hashtags in the HIMSS conversation both pre-HIMSS 2017 and 2018.

3. Conversation topics on the rise:

  • Precision medicine: From advances in genomics to the necessity that is taking a patient-centric approach to care delivery, use of “precision medicine” increased nearly 200% pre-HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17.
  • Patient centric: Both “patient centered” and “patient outcome” were used 55% and 48% more, respectively, in the weeks leading up to HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17. With HIMSS providing scholarships for patients and advocates at this year’s event (YES), and groups like the Society for Participatory Medicine playing a role, it’s great to see that the social conversation are increasingly mapping back to the patient.
  • Workflow technology: Someone tell @WareFLO that HIMSS-focused discussions mentioning “workflow tech” increased 90% leading up to HIMSS18—though perhaps not surprising, given the renewed industry focus on finding ways to alleviate the administrative burden and burnout on clinicians through better designed systems and solutions.
  • The artificial era: The AI revolution is very much alive and well. Conversations related to AI and machine learning were on the rise in the weeks before HIMSS18, with AI-related conversations increasing 19% pre-HIMSS18 compared to last year.
  • Analytics: None of the above are possible today without accounting for the role that data analytics plays. HIMSS-focused conversations referencing “data analytics” were up 20% leading up to HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17.

4. Notable hashtags support rising trends:

  • Reinforcing the patient-centered takeaways above, it’s great to see #patientengagement used 84% more this year in comparison to pre-HIMSS17.
  • #AI and its variants also increased in use prior to this year’s event as opposed to last, with many sessions in the HIMSS18 agenda focused on case studies of success and lessons learned from AI innovations in action. Related, #radiology is becoming a bigger part of the pre-HIMSS conversation, used 150% more compared to last year pre-event.
  • #VR, #AR and #IoT are even trendier this year, increasing in use upwards of 100-200% pre-HIMSS18 versus pre-HIMSS17.
  • #Aim2Innovate, #TransformHIT, #RethinkRCM, #EmpowerHIT and #Nurses4HIT all picked up steam this year leading in to the event in comparison to social chatter pre-HIMSS17.

5. What comes up…

As telling as it is to see what topics are trending up, those trending down can help tell a different story:

  • Policy-focused staples such as “MACRA” and “ACA” died down in use pre-HIMSS18 in comparison to the post-election year prior
  • Perhaps a bit more surprising, “healthcare costs” were mentioned 92% less leading up to HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17
  • While AI is heavily represented in the pre-event social conversations this year, blockchain in healthcare was mentioned 93% less pre-HIMSS18
  • Mobile apps are also not as popular in the pre-event chatter this year, mentioned 95% less ahead of HIMSS18
  • The patient-first narrative is seeming to take hold, with consumer health and customer experience being discussed 95% and 96% less, respectively, before this year’s event versus 2017.

Lastly, when looking at the audience breakdown of those driving the conversation (below), stakeholders that fall within in the health industry segment of the MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem—e.g., health system CXOs and technology decision makers—are the main conversation contributors, responsible for 40% of the HIMSS related posts, but only making up 27% of the authors.

U.S. Physicians are the opposite, contributing just 6% of posts but making up 23% of the authors. The takeaway? While doctors are present and accounted for, the health industry rules the HIMSS social discussion, contributing nearly seven times more than their caregiver counterparts.

What will the post-HIMSS18 story be? Stay tuned and we’ll tell you!


[i] Comparing conversation leading up to HIMSS 2017 (1.1.17 – 2.15.17) to conversation leading up to HIMSS 2018 (1.1.18 – 2.15.18)


 This blog was co-authored by Steven Cutbirth, Product Commercialization Lead, Healthcare Analytics Innovation at W2O 

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