Saturday, February 16, 2013

Uploading Costs to Determine ROI

      So what it the point of all of this analytics? Is it to run frequent reports and setup custom dashboards? Is it to print fancy infographics that tell a story without providing any real insight? Analysts need to realize that the reason why companies invest efforts in employing these tools is to simply generate more money. Sounds obvious. Yet many organizations blindly implement web analytics tools without developing strategies and measurements that allow for insight into the effectiveness of marketing campaigns across all ad networks. Without an effective way of measuring the ROI of all web based advertisement campaigns, companies can not gain insight into which techniques are generating the most money. 
     Google Analytics provides plug-ins that provide easy ROI reporting for advertisement campaigns that are generated through Google's online marketing tools. Information about advertisement campaigns implemented in Google Adwords can be linked to a GA account to allow for the baked in reporting tools to be used in Adword ROI analysis. But what about other online advertisement campaigns (Facebook,Bing, partner sites)? If the goal is to utilize analytics to make money, then organizations need to analyze which advertisement campaigns are the most effective across all ad networks .
       GA provides tools for users that allow for non Google ad network cost data to be uploaded from files (excel spreadsheets) into the GA suite. Uploading daily costs data allows for a one stop web analytics experience where all relevant online advertisement costs and statistics are merged together, allowing for reflection on the effectiveness of specific marketing efforts.

Where to Start?

        Before we can start uploading data into GA, we need to make sure our advertisement links are created in Google's URL builder tool. Utilizing the builder allows us to maintain effective management across campaigns, mediums, and sources[1]. Please refer to Bryce Bagley's excellent post excellent post on how to accomplish this.

      Once our URLs have been built, we then need to develop a spreadsheet that contains information that will allow us to track what campaigns we are currently running, what kind of traffic they generated, and how much they cost. Advertisement tools outside of Google’s ad network also can provide these same statistics. Google provides guidelines on what data can be uploaded and it's format.[2]

     Before we can start uploading data into GA, we need to make sure our data is formatted in a specific way that allows for Google's API to read it. Companies should format spreadsheets according to the dimensions and metrics shown in the table above. However, many companies may have spreadsheets that look similar to this one.

      Google’s data upload API is unable to read the file due to the titles in the columns being unrecognizable by the tool. However, it is easy to reformat into a API friendly file.

     You will notice that the spreadsheet contains aspects such as source, medium, and campaign name which refer back to the original URL that was generated for our advertisement link. The data will upload and associate itself to the specific campaign that we created. [3]

How to upload the Data

     Before we can upload the data, we must make sure that our spreadsheet file has been formatted appropriately and saved in the .CVS file format. This format is an option when saving files in excel. Once our files are ready, we can upload our data using Google’s free self service API or an independent GA application provider for a cost.

Google's Self Service API:

This method involves an intermediate knowledge of how to utilize API's and a small bit of scripting logic. Due to this falling outside the realm of this course, I have attached several tutorials on how to set up API access in Google's developer tools and how to enable data uploading in GA. [4]

API Demo

Independent Application Providers.

     Many companies have developed tools that allow for easy data integration from excel into GA. These tools provide the same functionality while providing an easy to use graphical user interface. A tool provided by Next analytics provides the ability to pull informaton from the web into excel for analysis, while another another application by GA DataUploader pushes data from excel into GA. For more information on applications that provide additional tools in GA please visit the App Gallery. [5]

GA Data Uploader Demo

Analysis through Reporting

     Once the data has been uploaded (which can take up to 12 hours) we can take a look at the effectiveness of the campaigns in relation to one another using the built in GA tools.

     Organizations must look at ROI holistically. Viewing a report showing the ROI analysis of a single advertisement campaign only tells you only a part of the story. It is through the compiling of all advertisement endeavors that allow for an understanding of how our efforts are effecting the bottom line. Yet even then, organizations need to continue to revisit the ROI that the analytics team bring to the table.


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