Data needs a voice

If you work in Digital, chances are you’re familiar with at least some of the adages about data: Data is King, Data really powers everything that we do, In God we trust. All others must bring data, and so on and so forth…But what about making this highly regarded data digestible and actionable? Do we all put enough emphasis on this aspect of data collection?

A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information demonstrated that eight seconds is the limit for humans being able to focus exclusively on one task. When we stack this against the average nine second span of a goldfish, it highlights an innate human need for concision, simplicity, and practicality – a need we must absolutely consider when presenting and communicating data.

GDS: Tackling MI in a more inclusive way.

Data visualisation is not a new concept – however it has gathered pace within the last couple of years. There are a stack of data visualisation products and platforms out there – some demanding more investment than others, however one of our favourites at the moment is the Google Data Studio (GDS). With no subscription fee and a ‘newer’ reputation compared to the likes of Tableau and Microsoft’s Power BI, GDS may not be in the consideration set of many organisations when it comes to reporting and representing their data.

In all honesty, in its present manifestation, indeed GDS doesn’t have the ability to handle, segment and integrate as much data from as many external platforms as some of the bigger hitters in this arena, however what it does have in its favour is its focus on much needed simplicity and accessibility. For us Insights geeks, searching through piles of data in search of key nuggets is ingrained in our DNA – we love it! - however an equally essential part of our role is communicating and visualising this data (and the narrative behind it) in a digestible way – GDS is excellent for this.

Housed within a clean and easy to use reporting interface (not dissimilar to Google Analytics, this inherent familiarity also a definite benefit!), GDS takes reams of data and turns it into reports that are structured, highly visual, and easy to read and edit. Once you have selected the sources for your data (of which there are many), handpicked your core reporting metrics and carefully sculpted your dashboard, the next critical step is sharing and promoting your findings – another aspect that Google has made very straightforward with their offering here.

What’s new from Google Data Studio?

Originally launched on limited beta back in early 2016, and subsequently made accessible to everyone in 2017, Google have been iteratively adding to and strengthening the GDS product. The latest exciting developments have been in the data fit for integration into your dashboards. Last September, they launched 3rd party data connectors – paving the way for incorporation of further data such as Social (Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, Twitter ads), Display (Doubleclick) and Bing Ads. Amongst the benefits from this development include the ability to blend Paid and Organic data from social channels and report Adwords and Bing (PPC) data side by side. Google are known for investing time and effort in honing their products (remember what Google Analytics looked like just a couple of years ago?!?), so as keen GDS users, we’re keen to see how else GDS will ‘up its game’ in the coming months of 2018.

So how does GDS fit into the wider Digital Insights Strategy?

We have been making use of GDS for some time now – as an integral element of our clients’ wider Insights strategy. As such, we have collated below some of our tips in making the most of this highly useful platform.

  • Like the start of any project, it is critical that before diving into GDS, you must be clear on what you want to accomplish. Creating a dashboard with screeds of detailed metrics with no apparent focus will not drive change
  • Like Google Analytics, GDS is free of charge but don’t be fooled – the ‘off the shelf’ version of this platform is limited. Dedicated time needs to be invested to shape and mould it to each client’s individual needs.
  • Consider creating a distinct dashboard for key audiences your client’s organisation and a distinct version facilitating deeper analysis. GDS embraces both the broad (top level performance data) and the granularities (comparison data for multiple metrics and data fields). Whilst the granularities should feed further analysis or investigation, there are likely too in-depth for client needs.

Ultimately, the key takeaway to bear in mind is that your GDS dashboard must communicate key findings, define the key actions to be taken and, in the end drive change. Equator’s dedicated Insights team have the skills, experience and knowledge to tackle both dashboard needs as well as greater Insights strategy – contact us to learn more.