The Future of Analytics – Ask the Experts

The Future of Analytics – Ask the Experts

19th April 2016

If we look back over the past five years, we have seen some huge changes across the digital marketing landscape and one of the areas that we have seen significant changes is in the world of analytics. From call tracking and tag management to attribution and DMPs, we have seen them all make their way into our day to days lives as marketers.

I wanted to find out from some of the experts in these core areas what they think the future looks like for the analytics world. In this post you will hear from the following:

  • Russell McAthy
  • Jim Sterne
  • James Cornwall
  • Jac Priestland

Let’s get cracking….

Russell McAthy – The Future of Attribution

russell_1Russell has been working in digital for over a decade with data analytics at the heart of his career. Working with businesses from startup to FTSE100 he has guided teams to improve their marketing performance through data led insight.

Following positions in-house, agency and consultancy side he now leads a team as CEO in building a marketing attribution platform. CUBED Attribution is supporting a new view of digital data to enable brands understand how consumers truly interact with their marketing activity both on and offline.

When it comes to Attribution – what does the future look like over the next 6-12 months?

Attribution has gone from a buzzword that “everyone” needs to do, to a minor established function of analytics and marketing teams. We’re seeing brands start to invest in a new understanding of their activity, especially when they spend significant budget in paid media. The next year will see more brands with this vision start to ask better and more complex questions of their available data.

The true future of attribution is not about budget manipulation or revenue redistribution; it comes down to true understanding the ‘why’ on how consumers engage with your brand. This will help businesses change their messaging, better manage consumer perception and re-structe their business around customers – from acquisition through to post sale engagement.

What can businesses do today that will help them be ready for attribution?

Attribution today lives off a model, a tool, a function and then a different cut of the dataset. In reality what happens is that businesses have to fundamentally change their mindset of consumer engagement. This is not just a new set of data to compare or contrast to. Attribution shows you the way consumers and customers have engaged with you to help you adjust your approach.

Brands need to start asking questions of their activity. What types of customers am I trying to approach with this? What KPI’s actually make sense for this type of activity? If I was to better understand the impact this message or creative has, would I be able to change it to target a more efficient route to sale?

Businesses who are considering Attribution now (or already have it) – what do they have to look forward to in 12 months plus? What’s the next big things you’re thinking of and building right now?

We’ve got big plans at CUBED Attribution for how to work with brands, agencies and tech partners. There are 3 core areas in which I see significant change coming with the support of attribution


We already support businesses to understand the potential of their marketing. This is something we know is incredibly important and is a core function of all of our development roadmap moving forward. It’s how businesses can better understand what they can do to get the best return for their time and media.

Real Time Marketing

Plugging into Call Centre IVR’s and RTB software is still only in its infancy. We expect brands to want more and more integrations to understand ‘on the fly’ the potential future of a consumer. This approach may be slightly controversial but it’s something that the market (and each brand in isolation) should be testing. VIP service already exists for the haves and have nots – what if we were able to prioritise this into multiple categories?

Understand the value of Brand Advertising

The big question that is constantly unanswered is in the understanding of the true value to a brand of their own brand advertising. This question is never going to be truly answered, but the journey we want to take with brands to better understand it will open new avenues and insights to improve their knowledge of the consumers.

Jim Sterne – The Future of Analytics & Community

JimSterne300Jim Sterne is an international consultant who focuses on measuring the success of digital relationships with customers. Sterne has written ten books on interactive marketing, is the Founding President and current Board Chair of the Digital Analytics Association and produces the eMetrics Summits. In his spare time, he does silly stuff like the Devil’s Data Dictionary.



When it comes to analytics – what does the future look like over the next 6-12 months?

Over the next 6-12 months, those who are not using analytics will continue to not use analytics. Those who have free tools installed but are not really getting any traction will continue to spin their wheels. Those who are getting some interesting insights will find even more value. Those who have started the process of corporate change management will continue to find it frustrating that it takes so long to turn an aircraft carrier. Those who are making great strides by adopting analytics will find that their lead over the competition is growing. Those who are playing with cutting-edge tools and techniques will run into hurdle after hurdle but will find bright spots with astonishing success that will make the pursuit worthwhile. In the meantime, the world of start-ups will roll out hundreds of business models that offer data-as-a-service and analytics-as-a-service with varying success, but within 12 months, one of them will have coined a new term that will crush Big Data and supplant AI and Machine Learning. Perhaps a Human Algorithm Language (HAL) or Cognitive Construct for Cooperative, Personalized Output (C3PO).

Over the past 12 months, what new analytics initiative has excited you the most and why?

Machine learning and AI are poise to lend a crucial hand with Big Data. Too many hyped-up buzzwords? We have more data than humans can wrangle with more attributes than we can juggle and more permutations than we can fathom. But a machine can find correlations for us and point us toward relationships we hadn’t noticed or even thought to examine.

How do you see things changing in the way in which the analyst community is educated in the coming years?

We’re still asking race drivers to be auto mechanics. Do they need to understand how the race car works? Of course. Do they need to build engines and write the diagnostic code? Of course not. In the coming years, we will find better ways to teach critical thinking along with analytical thinking and train people to ask better questions. We have the data and the algorithms, now we just need to be smarter about what we want them to do for us.

James Cornwall – The Future of DMP & Customer

james-cornwall-minAs head of members, insights and analytics for Zipcar International. James is responsible for Zipcars global measurement and performance worldwide. In his role he is leading the measurement strategy and optimisation framework to drive international business customer performance and acquisition analysis. James’ has previous experience as data & analytics manager for Fiat-Chrysler group and head of global analytics at Shell International.

When it comes to DMP – what does the future look like over the next 6-12 months?

DMP’s will become a vital part of business’ technology stack. Many businesses are harnessing the power of their first party data through data warehouses but when combing first and third party data that is controlled by the business, this opens the door to much deeper real time opportunities.

I believe the biggest improvements for DMPs should be the advances in CDIM. Many DMP’s have multiple ways of delivering deterministic matches but as technologies improve we should see these matches continue to improve, especially in the post cookie environment we are moving towards. Reconciling users and stitching behaviour together accurately will allow us to not only better understand behaviour but allow us to better manage cost and ensure better personalised messaging regardless of the channel.

Another area we will see an increase is DMP to DMP data delivery for 2nd party data where publishers are sharing added value data with customers to help build better understand and targets for users intent and behaviour.

What are your thought on the new Google Analytics 360 Suite?

We are seeing Google’s response to Adobe. For me personally it’s a logical next step for Google and it will allow them to make significate and continue stride into the Enterprise market. There is no doubt in my mind that Google analytics is a more user friendly solution but the power of Adobe is it integration with its own industry leading tools. I am personally very excited to see what tools like Audience Centre and Optimize have to offer. Also how deep they integrate with each other (and how well). In my mind if Google can start to make serious money from there data solutions then investment into the solution can only be good for us in digital.

What can we expect to see from the DMP technology vendors over the coming 12 months?

I think the race is now on. We are going to see DMP’s everywhere. All marketing tech solutions are going to offer DMP like solutions (ESP vendors, display vendors, CRM etc). There will be heavy investment in front end design to make these DMP’s more user friendly and easier for non-technical people to use. Open secure API’s rather than direct integrations will also make it more viable for businesses to make a DMP the real heartbeat of data driven marketing. It will change the game and minimise the need for manual targeting and analysis. I also think we are going to see cloud solutions push the DMP as a leading product and real solution for their clients, which means pure players will need to invest heavily, create a cost effective solution that continues to develop ahead of the larger solutions.

Jac Priestland – The Future of Tag Management

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 15.21.47Jac heads up the client facing data and insight team at Yard Digital, part of his role involves working with clients such as British Gas, Sainsbury’s, JP Morgan, and Burberry to implement web analytics, improve web site performance, and seek to solve problems that are traditionally impossible or impractical without use of a Tag Management System.



When it comes to Tag Management – what does the future look like over the next 6-12 months?

I started my career in the digital industry 6 years ago where I came across tag management systems due to the fact that the company I joined developed a TMS called SiteTagger. I believe TMSs were relatively new back then and the only other one on the market was TagMan, now Ensighten. SiteTagger worked very well for what it was 6 years ago and eventually it got acquired by BrightTag, now Signal.

Since the days of SiteTagger, TMSs have been popping up everywhere from free to paid versions, I believe within the next 6-12 months most or all major websites will have implemented a TMS or will be looking to.

This is due to the fact that it’s a must have these days as companies have realized it could save them thousands of pounds in development costs as you can implement an advanced Google Analytics implementation within days using a TMS rather than weeks without one.

Within the next year I believe TMS will have cemented themselves into three categories:

  1. Free service – such as Google Tag Manager, as it’s a free service I believe the ‘big companies’ won’t buy into it due to the fact that it has limitations such as making it difficult or impossible to implement other non Google products such as Adobe Analytics.
  2. Free service within a bundle – such as Dynamic Tag Manager, DTM is provided free of charge when you purchase Adobe Analytics. This will be welcomed by new companies purchasing Adobe Analytic without a TMS.
  3. Paid enterprise packages – such as Signal, ‘big companies’ will use these packages due to the fact they are always evolving and have advanced features such as Signal’s server-direct functionality.

What are the benefits of using a third party platform over Google Tag Manager? Which would you recommend and why.

The benefits of using an enterprise package such as Signal or Ensighten is that they’re ever evolving, these packages are always updating their tags and templates to match the ever changing technologies out there. You also get more than just a TMS, with Signal you have extra benefits such as server-direct tags.

Server-direct enables its clients to transfer data from a website to third party partners without the use of their tags, so without placing unnecessary load on browsers. To collect and share data without tags means server-direct enables clients to collect data where tags don’t exist, establishing the foundation for omni-channel data collection and marketing campaigns….this is why I love Signal.

Businesses who are considering moving across to a Tag Management system now (or already have it) – what do they have to look forward to in 12 months plus?

As said previously I believe all the big companies will move to a TMS in the very near future…. with Google and Adobe offering free solutions, the enterprise level TMSs will have to be one step ahead, and develop technologies that aren’t present in the free solutions in order to justify the cost of one of the big players in the tag management sector.

Within the last 12-24 months is where the free systems have really come into play. Companies will always look to go with the free versions if they can so in the next 12 months, the paid enterprise packages will need to release new technologies included in their normal cost in order to justify the money that they charge.

I believe the future is having a consolidated view of the users across all of their devices, similar to Adobe’s new ‘co-op’ feature whereby it basically ties the same person/household together across device if they login to an Adobe ‘co-op’ enabled site. These types of features will give the marketeer a true attribution and insight.


Written By
Samantha Noble is the founder of Biddable Moments and a former editor and contributor to State of Digital.
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