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What’s Going on with Marketing Analytics?

By Martin Kihn | September 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Despite its plaintive growing pains, digital marketing analytics is a seller’s market right now – a gold rush with a pick and pail and scale all laid out at the virtual general store.

marketing anlayticsGartner’s recent Data-Driven Marketing Survey provides a vivid portrait of a wide range of marketers suddenly becoming enraptured with math. Our survey found that 69% of respondents planned to base “most” of their decisions on quantitative criteria within the next few years. Marketing leaders are spending more, and much of this spending is going toward skilled teams. Teams in our survey averaged some five marketing analysts for each $100 million in revenue. Two-thirds of respondents are hiring even more pointy-headed types, and as many plan to have a so-called “marketing analytics center of excellence” in place by 2017.

Woot. As my colleague Christi Eubanks reminded us recently, data science is the latest camp in an impressive march of destiny that started with lowly log file parsers some two decades ago and will no doubt end up with intelligent agents optimizing our efforts for us as we play virtual golf, or more likely, worry about something else.

Last week, Gartner published its first-ever Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Analytics (subscribers enjoy here). As is true with all new MQ’s, the hardest task was defining the walls of the market itself and the precise criteria for inclusion. Marketing analytics could theoretically include any platform used by marketers (including advertisers, who are marketers too), as long as it’s used to analyze something.

What does this mean? If you’re a marketing analyst today and you swiveled your Eames around your lavish pod, you could plausibly be looking at separate screens for:

  1. Web analytics – often two browser tabs, one of which is Google’s free product
  2. Mobile analytics engagement – to see how your apps are doing
  3. Mobile analytics performance – crash testing and so on, for developers
  4. Social analytics – a platform that does fancy text analytics and categorizations on your posts
  5. Testing platform – does AB/MVT and personalization for your sites
  6. Ditto for mobile apps – of course, apps are special
  7. Marketing mix model – probably a consultant, actually, since these are too hard even for you
  8. Attribution platform – also gnarly, but you might be manning up to measure the “true impact” of your ads
  9. Data visualization and dashboarding – to collect outputs from all the above, and more, and do some exploration
  10. B.I. tool – so you can go deeper into the above, using SQL if you’re so inclined, when you’re bored or particularly puzzled
  11. Point solutions for your industry – e.g., lead scoring software for B2B shops or product recommendation optimizers for e-commerce
  12. Windows Power Shell – for your command line data exploration
  13. Anaconda – or whatever you use to flex those Python skills you’re diligently honing after work down at General Assembly
  14. Other dashboards – for your company’s marketing automation, campaign management, email, yaddo boom boom

And let’s not forget our oldest friend:

  1. Excel

So there you have it: put all that into a two-by-two matrix. The easiest course would also probably be the least helpful: an MQ for now-traditional web analytics, the category most free-associators would blurt out if they were fed the words “marketing” and “analytics.” Trouble is, web analytics is a very mature category dominated by two or three vendors. It’s also – just look north, amigos – a particularly partial snapshot of a marketing analysts’ life.

What many people don’t realize is that the Magic Quadrant is a forward-looking document. The horizontal axis in particular represents our assessment of where a particular vendor’s strategic vision sits with respect to the market itself. In fact, it’s our assessment of how closely the vendor’s vision lines up with where we see the market going. Ergo, we can’t put a dot somewhere unless we have a considered assessment of where the market is going.

So: Where is the digital marketing analytics market going?

One word: convergence. Surprised? Of course not. But let me explain.

In the same way our Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs described a vision of the convergence of marketing technology and advertising technology as a future state, our Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Analytics sees a likely future where marketing analytics and advertising analytics come together in a compelling cross-channel, cross-device view of prospects and customers that tracks and serves them coherently through the span of their time with the marketer – from anonymous ad viewer to loyal (or lapsed) customer and back again.

More practically, we see that the market for digital marketing analytics is characterized by consolidation in mature categories, such as web analytics, and ongoing fragmentation in others, such as mobile app and social analytics. In the traditional web analytics – now called digital analytics – category, a handful of vendors led by Adobe and Google dominate enterprise and mid-market users. Google’s free Analytics Standard product is nearly ubiquitous. Specialized channel analytics tools still abound, particularly for tracking engagement with mobile and video formats, but many were too narrowly focused to include in our evaluation.

Concurrently, a large number of point solutions have emerged for specific advanced analytics use cases, like lead scoring for business to business marketers, and predictive analytics to determine offers, product and content recommendations for e-commerce companies and publishers; these were also too narrowly scoped for inclusion.

And finally, media measurement – including attribution, marketing mix modeling and combined solutions – includes a potpourri of point solutions, professional service providers, and nascent features included within broader analytics tools. Google’s 2014 acquisition of Adometry, as well as Adobe’s investment in attribution for its Premium product, signal a slow but ongoing convergence of digital analytics and media measurement.

As the dust clears on the mountain, we’re left with three broad categories of marketing analytics platforms:

  • Diviersified Software Providers: These platforms tend to embed digital analytics within a alrger analytics and media context, providing a modular approach that provides marketing with a menu of products and bundles of features. They are investing particularly in serving the power user, improving decision support and U.I. Examples include Adobe and Google.
  • Media Measurement Providers: These companies focus on providing marketers and advertisers with smart ways to measure the true impact of their efforts and to improve their return on investment. Their high penetration within the enterprise base, focus on white-glove service models, and expertise with high data volumes and advanced modeling techniques, qualifies them to pursue a broader role closer to the core of digital marketing analytics. Examples include Visual I.Q. and AOL (Convertro).
  • Customer Analytics Providers: These companies focus on providing a single view fo the customer based on first-party sources. They differentiate themselves by stressing data quality and hygiene, as well as accurate metadata, and their maintenance of a master customer record that captures key attributes, which in turn forms the basis of the analytics engine. Examples include AgilOne and Pitney Bowes.

As a fast-growing market, digital marketing analytics is attracting attention both from large technology incumbents, such as SAP and Teradata, as well as traditional business intelligence (B.I.) and analytics providers who see marketing as a sensible source of new users. A few B.I. platforms – such as Tableau, GoodData, and QlikView – are already widely used by marketing teams for specific requirements, such as visualization or data exploration.

These platforms currently lack support for some key marketing requirements, but their addition of features requested by marketing users could easily turn them into a formidable new competitive magnet for those ever-expanding marketing analytics budgets.

To hear more about this research and the state of marketing analytics, join me for an upcoming 4A’s WEBINAR: “What’s Going on With Marketing Analytics?” December 8, 2015 @1-2pm EST. Get more information and register here.

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