Firms grow to meet analytics needs

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Firms grow to meet analytics needs
Firms grow to meet analytics needs

EBay uses sophisticated analytics data to understand the impact of its marketing across all digital media. The online auction site works with San Francisco-based integrated agency Signal to Noise on digital marketing, including analytics. 

Analysis has become more important to marketers as digital media has grown to include social media. 

"As Internet advertising has evolved, multichannel attribution is an even hotter topic in the industry," said Daphne Sacco, head of display advertising at eBay. "Partnering with an agency that really understands the digital industry and what is important to our campaigns has been key in helping us reach our analytics goals." 

Digital agency T3 has worked to turn its own analytics team into what director of analytics Christopher Macauley, called "connective tissue" that permeates every aspect of the agency's work. T3 bolsters its analytics services to give clients improved intelligence on their marketing initiatives. 

For Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, launched last December, the T3 analytics team continues to monitor and track social media comments and blog posts to see what consumers and tastemakers say about the product. 

"The community is very strongly opinionated, and it's up to us to pick up their insights and get them to help us make the launch of the phone as targeted as possible," said Macauley.

The agency's analytics capabilities "have been instrumental in providing guidance drawn from the online communities' discussions of Windows Phone 7," said Ada Agrait, director of digital marketing at Microsoft.

Several direct marketing agencies and service providers have boosted their analytics capabilities through the acquisition of other firms and hiring sprees. NSI Marketing Services bought marketing data agency Razor in January to beef up its analytics credentials, while the analytics team at CRM agency Merkle has grown by at least 20% every year since 2008. Ogilvy & Mather expanded the size of its analytics team by about 40% from 2009 to 2010, and it created a data analytics hub in Bangalore, India in 2010.

Yet, collecting data is not enough. Many agencies need to connect the dots of existing marketing data, but not many are doing so. 

More than half (57%) of interactive marketing professionals measure each channel, but a mere 28% gauge the influence of one channel on another, according to a December 2010 survey from Forrester Research.

"When clients get four reports from four different channels, unless someone brings it together, it becomes less useful information," said Marc Schwartz, global lead for data and analytics at SapientNitro, adding that his agency is hiring analysts with a range of professional experience to scrutinize the big picture implications of client data.

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