Visualization & Reporting

Monitoring marketing investments using agency reports

A digital wallet client used custom dashboarding to monitor the ad spend of competitors and benchmark RoI

The digital wallet client was one of the early movers into the business. They were the market leaders, but fast losing market and volume share to emerging players. The competitors were using digital promotional activities, TV and Print ads to woo and acquire customers. They were looking for an executive dashboard to monitor the ad spend and performance of their competitors and benchmark the return on investment (RoI) against the competitors.

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Who is the strongest of them all? The client looked at digital, TV and print campaign positioning and spend by competitors to understand – and then counter competition

Designed and developed a dashboard with custom visualizations

Dynamic ranking & colour coding of legends and visuals based on spend

Functionality to share & download the entire page or the desired visualization

The study helped the client identify the target groups, the promotions they were running and use these info to create strategies to retain and win customers.

The battle for attention

The digital wallet client had a dominant market share owing to their first mover advantage. They had already captured more than 80% of the market share. The newcomers were challenging the client with some differentiated offerings, positioning and increased ad spending on digital, TV and Print. The client was ceding space and business to the newcomers and was looking for solutions to monitor, react and maintain dominance.

They realised that a fool proof strategy was not just monitoring and matching competitors dollar for dollar. They wanted to look at the positioning, creative content and the target group, spend distribution and the impact each competitor was having on their business. They needed a solution to capture and process the raw data on daily ad spend by channel and their creatives in near real-time.

Beyond being pretty

The volume and pace of digital ads, TV and print were creating challenges in monitoring the competitor strategies and which ones to respond to with a short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies.

The client commissioned the study to better monitor their activities and spends, benchmark the segment marketing activities and assess their performance against the competition. The customized executive dashboard enabled them to:

a. Monitor competitor activities more efficiently

b. Categorize competitors

c. Analyse and understand competitors’ strategies

The client has been able to reduce the turn around time (TAT) for these reports by 70%.

A digital wallet client used custom dashboarding to monitor the ad spend of competitors and benchmark RoI

Visualization & Reporting

Influencer analysis and segmentation of social media celebrities

The media agency had engaged with an ecommerce platform that is into kids apparel. They were planning to launch a campaign across major Tier II cities in India and looking to identify and engage with the right set of influencers. They wanted to develop a proprietary index based on engagement of fans on content relevant to their line of business, understand their differentiation and identify micro influencers. The index should also help them measure engagement on sponsored posts.

Doing small things in a great way

The agency was able to identify influencers and segment them based on the fan engagement, content focus, geography and other relevant metrics.

Removed bias in influencer selection based on proprietary Influence Index

Optimize costs of influencer sign-up and maximise return on investment (RoI)

Segmented influencers as micro, mini, regional and national

The analysis enabled the media agency to identify the right set of influencers to maximize the reach among fans, generate engagement and awareness.

Multiple objective. Unstructured scope.

The media agency had formulated the campaign with marketing through influencers as the central theme. There were multiple challenges with this approach. They needed to identify the right platforms and forums on which the target customer base was active. The vernacular mode of communication across platforms was not helping them in making an objective decision. Besides, the motivation of users on each of these platforms was heterogenous.

One of the major challenges was to identify influencers across platforms – and compare them on a common scale. The primary focus of the agency was to reach the target audience through these influencers. We proposed a data driven proprietary index design to measure influence with a set of metrics that was easy to capture – despite the heterogeneity of the platform and diversity of fan base.

A proprietary influence index

The proprietary Influence Index is based on machine learning algorithm, utilizing natural language processing that measures the degree of influence.

With Influence Index, the media agency was able to :

a. Use the index and segment influencers into Micro, Mini, Regional and National

b. Index based monitoring of week on week variation in the engagement level and influence score

c. Measure of how well each category of influencers performed on campaign posts and sponsored content

The Influence Index based monitoring enabled the media agency to identify, monitor the engagement and performance of each segment of influencers at a monthly level and align them to campaign objectives.

Visualization & Reporting

Highlight racism and discrimination of migrants in Europe

The non-profit European Network Against Racism (ENAR) compiles annual reports based on information and data collected by member organisations. These reports are based on many sources of data, official, unofficial, academic and experiential. These allow access to information, provides the perspective of those directly affected by racism. ENAR was looking for a more impactful and effective story telling platform to capture the realities of racism in EU member countries.

A non-profit perspective on migration

The dashboard is a tableau based representation of the those who either are or work directly with those affected by racism.

The rise of far-right parties using racist/xenophobic idea and policies

Discrimination, labour market access leading to lower employment rates

Rise in racially motivated crimes across EU member states

The dashboard highlights some of the key findings on racism and discrimination in the context of racism and discrimination against migrants.

Multiple Countries. Multiple sources.

Racism is an everyday reality for many ethnic and religious minorities in the EU. The extent and manifestations of this is often unknown and undocumented, especially in official data sources. There are variations in the data being reported officially and those collected by the civil society organizations. The objective of ENAR is to highlight the racist structures and practices across member states and address them.

ENAR collects data for 24 member states. The form and reporting of these crimes have huge variations across member states. Data and statistics on prosecutions are hard to collect and often not publicly available, therefore it becomes difficult for them to offer a EU wide perspective. Due to the variety of audience accessing the report, ENAR was looking for a visual reporting of the issues.

Perspective of those affected by racism

The dashboard on reporting racism and highlighting migrant issues helps ENAR convey their findings in an intuitive, easy to understand visual form.

With Tableau dashboards, ENAR is able to:

a. Integrate the visualizations on their website

b. Download, attach and share visuals in reports

c. Interactive and appealing visualizations generating better engagement

d. Responsive and mobile friendly

e. Faster conceptualization and implementation

ENAR is able to highlight bias and under-reporting of crimes motivated by racism more effectively.

Visualization & Reporting

Avoid being Data Fashionista. Focus on visualizations that matter!

Generating eye catching visualizations and charts is becoming easier by the day. With the data deluge, and the pervasion of data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence without an understanding of where the data is coming from or existence of bias in the way the data has been collected is leading most (if not all) of us being a victim of unconscious propaganda and digital activism. Add the need to grab attention in the content based marketing world – driven by obsession with search engine rankings and grabbing most views, likes and shares on professional networking platforms – we have the perfect recipe for disaster.

Having more data doesn’t make it easier to communicate. It makes it harder!

The root of all evil

In schools, we have language subjects and then we have math subjects. It is rare that anyone of us were taught how to combine these two. And that leaves us undercooked for one of the most important tasks for the digital world we live in today – making sense of all the data. Being able to process these data, visualize it and developing a compelling story on it will enable us to fulfill our desire of evidence based decision making. Being adept in Tableau, Power BI or R Shiny is not a differentiation – being a storyteller is.

Key considerations for compelling data storytelling

a. Setting the context: The first item on this list has nothing to do with visualizations. To communicate well, we should know who we are talking to. And why. If you were talking to a brother versus the dad – about a school game you won, you would choose different words, tone and details in the conversation, wouldn’t you? Same goes for a dashboard or a report. Is the dashboard for use by the sales team or for the Chief of Sales? And then, we should consider how is it being done – whether it’s a conference room presentation, just and email or a monthly report

b. Knowing how to show results: I have personally used more than 100 different visualizations in my 10+ years of professional work. If I were to analyze all the work I have produced, the results might follow the Pareto principle i.e. 80% of my work would be based on only 20% different visuals. Broadly speaking, we should know when to use tables, pie-chart family of visuals, bar-graph family of visuals, line graphs. It would also be valuable to know the purpose of showing a visual – is it a comparison across years or growth over the years that you want to highlight? What visuals to choose if the growth numbers are low in absolute terms (but might not be a poor achievement) vs. if the scale of growth is, say 20-40%? And then, you need to decide what details are you going to show?

It is obviously not possible to go through each type of visualization here, and that is not the intended purpose even. In most cases, you would have to choose between multiple suitable options. The general principle is – the simplest visual that captures all that you want to convey is your best choice

c. Design Thinking: The visualizations should be intuitive and simple to interpret and understand. Always remember, the purpose of the visualization is to communicate – and not showing off your ability to be able to create awesome looking graphs that divert attention, and lead the audience away. You should try to highlight the important stuff and eliminate distractions. The designs should be accessible, and not overcomplicated. And lastly, make your visuals aesthetically pleasing

d. Weaving the Story: Why do we love reading books? Because, it grabs our attention and creates an emotional connect. And after finishing it, you might also discuss about the book with your friends. And since we have been communicating with stories, in infancy and beyond, it is easy to leverage storytelling to communicate with your audience and create an emotional connect. One of the approaches could start with a plot for your data story, filling in the details in the middle part and call to action at the end. And in case you are wondering, who is the subject of the story – it has to be your audience

e. Putting it all together: Every data story should begin with the audience, and end with a story. And as we discussed above, the story should have key takeaways. It helps if you understand the purpose of your work i.e. why are you working on creating a dashboard or a report. And the intended use of the dashboard.

At Xtage Labs, we try to blur the line between numbers and insights. We see visualizations more as an art than science. And since dashboards, reports or just a power point presentations are the primary ways in which we deliver our final results, we understand the need for compelling visuals and communicating effectively.

Credits: I would like to acknowledge that the post is broadly a summarization of Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’s work – Storytelling with Data