In the early days of digital advertising, the availability of straightforward, performance-indicative data was a massive contributor to adoption. Advertisers naturally felt reassured by the simplicity of the metrics – unique visitors; pageviews. Increasing numbers were good, decreasing numbers were not.
The advent of paid search heralded a new era for digital data, kick-starting a shift towards increasing sophistication. Advertisers were faced with and often confounded by new parameters: click through rate; conversion; cost per click; bounce. The digital display market moved along similar lines: cost per thousand; impressions; cost per acquisition.
And now we stand at the dawn of a new era in digital data. Advertisers, publishers and ad-servers collect any and all available information in the quest for greater effectiveness. A new spirit of openness means that third-party data is readily available to splice with web-metrics. Want to know the effect that local weather has on your site traffic? Or the impact of previous purchase decisions on propensity to buy again? It’s all feasible in the brave new world of “big data”.
Wherever advertising and data collide, analysts gather. As that interface has become complicated, so too has the role of the analyst. Whilst their primary functions – providing translation and identifying trends – have remained the same, the language they’re translating has diversified, and the trends have become more challenging to identify and interpret.
What’s more, the importance attached to data has skyrocketed too. There’s been a shift in the perception of data’s role in the strategic cycle of a business. Old-school thinking would see data as a post-strategy means to measure success. New-school data thinking is that the numbers, interpreted correctly, should inform strategy from the word go. That change has come hand in hand with the sophistication of data accuracy, availability, and segmentation.
That word – interpreted – has never been more crucial. An analyst’s job is to identify, translate, interpret and recommend. More and more businesses are putting data and insight at the heart of their most important decisions. The analyst is key to that methodology.
The good news is two-fold. Firstly, the role of the analyst in the digital market has never been more varied or critical to good business. Secondly, the profession of analysis in the digital market has never been more highly-regarded or better-paid.
The range of salaries offered in digital analysis positions has steadily broadened, with senior analysis positions commanding increasingly hefty salaries. This is unsurprising given the wide-ranging influence of analysis on digital business as a whole, and the aforementioned strategic importance being placed on insights.
In short, there’s never been a better time to be an analyst, and there’s never been a better industry than digital to practise in.
Author: Phil Haslehurst
Position: Marketing Manager, Propel London
Propel London are a Bronze sponsor of MeasureCamp and would love to talk to you if you are recruiting digital talent or looking for a new role yourself. They recently published details of a Salary Survey across various digital roles – http://www.propellondon.com/downloads/Propel-Digital-Salary-Insights-2012.pdf.