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  • Writer's pictureJouni Leskinen

Destroying business value: an example from badly managed marketing dashboard & data solution

Updated: Mar 17, 2020

We wanted to provide an example of how badly managed marketing data & reporting solutions can harm the business. Read Jouni's intriguing story from the bad-practice for marketing dashboard and data solution.

"Names are changed to protect the innocent... And the quilty."

Separate tools are a toolbox, not a solution

Magee Inc's marketing department is using Google Data Studio (this example applies to all visualization tools) with direct 3rd party and tool provided connectors to ad platform APIs including Adform, Facebook Business Manager, Google Ads just to name a few.

Awesome dashboards based on data from ad platforms are built by Derek who has a short developer background. Derek has spent the last 6 months perfecting the dashboard and setting a Google Sheets connection to Data Studio in order to get some external data into the dashboards.

Karen is a CMO and uses the dashboards built by Derek in a management group meeting to prove marketing investments impact on business goals. In a meeting, Karen shows the reports and fluently drills down from campaigns to ads.

John the CFO asks about one specific cost figure on the report and the whole management group spends the next 30 minutes trying to understand why the numbers don’t add up when drilling down to details. The realization is that the numbers change constantly because the reports are connected live to the ad platform APIs.

To add to the misery, report that shows data from Adform refuses to load because while preparing to the management group meeting, Karen and his colleagues have consumed all the API quota which is available on the Adform API. It’s that time of the month when there is a rush hour on the analytics highway. The API limits are met fast because the dashboards live connection makes a query to the API every time somebody loads or drills down on the report.

The business risks of badly planned and managed solution(s)

Later that week Karen is looking for Derek because she wants to know how the marketing non-working cost is calculated on the report. She bumps into Sally who works as a digital marketing planner in Magee Inc's marketing team.

Sally’s responsibility is planning and running omnichannel campaigns, but a lot of her time is spent renaming campaigns and setting up UTM tags to get even some understanding and results from campaigns on various channels combined on the reports.

Sally is frustrated and mumbles: “According to our reports, our funnel ends to the leads, but the analytics business process ends to the dashboard anyway”. Karen asks Sally about Derek’s whereabouts, but she learns that Derek has left the company since the last meeting.

After interrogating about ten people about who knows how the nonworking costs are allocated on the report she is shocked to learn that nobody knows how the dashboard has been built. All the business logic is in the presentation layer and hacked together using various tools instead of centralized managed data storage which would actually have a business owner responsible for the data and the related processes, not to mention somebody to support the dashboard users.

Business risk related to poorly managed solution has just been realized. Karen has learned a valuable lesson, that also marketing data needs to be properly managed and by trying to solve data management problems on the operative layer like ad platforms or presentation layer like visualization tools, it’s an average risky solution to a high-value problem and sooner or later it’s going to be an expensive mess.

Do you want badly managed solutions?

The problem described above is a common occurrence in companies looking to use their marketing data without proper solutions or expertise. Marketing is going through changes and better practices and means for increasingly data-relying marketing must be established.

Modern marketing uses data (information about the audience, metrics, overall KPIs to name a few) from various channels to build a 360 view for decision making. The resources used in those channels should always yield measurable results either on income or other business important metrics. And yes, brand-related metrics are important.

When your organization thinks about adopting tools and expertise to cater to reporting processes and better data management, you should always think about what are you getting yourself into in the long run. It's important to understand that you might lose indispensable information with poorly thought solutions and/or in case of changes in staff.

Remember that it's your business that suffers from a lack of efficiency and loses money on every invalid marketing decision + the experts lose motivation for inefficient processes and solutions.

Ultimately the choice of directions is yours but don't be like Magee Inc.


About the author. I’m the CEO at Madtrix. I'm concentrating on growing our customer's businesses by enabling better marketing decisions. My fight is against complicated, manual marketing reports and dashboards that make all our lives much more difficult than it needs to be.

To speak directly to me email

Are you interested in better reporting and marketing data capabilities? Well: book a discussion with us!

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