KILL Your Dashboard

Why kill your dashboard? It’s blocking your view of the road. 

I presume a dashboard is a panel facing a driver containing instruments and controls, like in a car. Last time I checked, my car didn’t have instruments measuring tire rotations/sec or Starbucks passed/gal or even bird poops avoided (or not avoided). In fact, in my car, the dashboard is down below the windshield. That way it doesn’t obscure my view. 

The greater measurability in Digital marketing has made us hungry for more data. As marketers, we’ve gone so many years with the ambiguity about which part of the budget was working that it’s wonderful to have more specifics. As the Digital space has developed, fragmented and become more technical, the flow of real-time data has become impressive, to say the least. The only rocket scientist I know told me that at NASA they say that data is not the same thing as informationInformation is the meaning that comes from correctly analyzing the data. For example, mph (miles per hour) is useful and meaningful information when driving. 

Putting NASA and cars aside to discuss media, an example, why would you tout impressions and CPM of a Search campaign? A lower CPM can indicate low relevance (more ads served yielding less clicks, meaning less investment, and less business results). Do you have a perspective on the difference between clicks, impressions and engagements on desktop, mobile, social and search? Are you weighing all of these equally? For example, many clicks in mobile are accidental, Facebook ad network placements are easy to ignore (but are blended into your Social Media data which muddies the waters because they are not all served on Facebook), text ads are instantly forgettable, and the list goes on and on. 

For every Digital media vehicle, there are far more metrics that are just data and don’t lead to useful information. This isn’t intentional and your brand’s data trash is another’s treasure because each situation is different. There is great value in understanding the dynamics of your brand/campaign/etc and the marketing and media tactics that you employ. 

Lastly, as marketers, we have to be pragmatic about the level of exact detail we need in every aspect of our work, lest the cost of marketing resource outweigh the return on investment. Take a look at your dashboard, whatever form it takes, and make sure it doesn’t have more measures than your car’s does. Then kill it and move on to stronger thinking, information and strategy. Your service provider should never drown you in data and expect you to interpret the meaning.

A Tip: Start with a narrative of how the plan is going and how it is linked to business results. Then gradually add the pertinent information back into your data practice. This is a good starting place to get back your sanity and increase your value and ROI. And the view of the road from the driver’s seat is amazing!