This post is part of our AMEC Measurement Month (#AMECMM) series.
As we mentioned previously, November is designated as ‘Measurement Month’ by the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC). And, as an AMEC member, Burrelles supports the AMEC global education program.
This past week, I attended an AMEC webinar on using Google Data Studio for integrated communications measurement purposes and it did not disappoint! Read on for my takeaways from the webinar.
What is Google Data Studio?
Google Data Studio, launched in mid-2016 (and came out of beta mode in October of 2018), offers a highly flexible and inexpensive way of pulling data from multiple sources to create rich interactive reporting dashboards.
It also provides a way to integrate standard media evaluation data with other relevant information to provide more in-depth and holistic insights into PR activity’s attribution and impact.
This webinar provided an overview of how to build Data Studio dashboards combined with tips and techniques for the collection, manipulation and display of multiple relevant data sources.
Anyone can create a Data Studio account and, if you aren’t sure where to start, it allows you to begin with a ready-made template rather than creating a custom dashboard from scratch. Next you’ll want to connect your own data sources to it, such as Google Analytics, Google Sheets, Ad Manager, YouTube analytics, various social media platform analytics, CSV files, and “literally hundreds more third-party data sources.” If you have a data source that isn’t already taken care of by Google’s connectors in the platform, you can build your own connectors so you can use any data source from anywhere. This allows you to begin with historical data and then add current data as you go along to build a holistic picture.
How to streamline the data collection process.
Andrew explained that you can use automation to feed various RSS feed data into Google Sheets, which in turn, can be pulled into Data Studio in near real-time. For example, if the data can be automated, you could pull in a media monitoring feed into a spreadsheet, which then provides fuel for the Data Studio dashboard. This would give you more time to pay attention to the data’s actual analysis, insights, and actionability.
Depending on the source, you could be pulling in data around monitoring, keywords, social sharing, domain authority, whether it includes a link back to your desired website. Essentially, it’s a way to automate collecting lots of useful raw data points (without human intervention) and combine it with other data points so you can build out a holistic view of what’s going on.
There are many ways to display and share data with Data Studio. For measurement purposes, one of the most important things to consider is how you want to show the data by answering the questions:
- What should I choose to display on the dashboard?
- For whom is it intended (who is my audience)?
- What do they need to know?
- What is the best way to display the data for them that’s obvious what the data story is that is being painted?
How to combine and blend data sources for PR attribution and impact assessment.
Andrew cautions about ‘shiny object syndrome‘ – “Wow, isn’t this amazing! I can create a moving bubble chart, isn’t that cool, which it is, but be wary of using a display or chart type just because it looks cool. You may find that often a good old-fashioned table might be the best way to display a particular set of data.”
He said Data Studio makes it very easy to create comparisons. “When you think about it, that’s really fundamentally what we’re interested in—to detect a change. Answers the question of have we seen an increase or decrease in whatever metric we’re looking at.”
You can even create your own calculated metrics, giving you insights you may not have gleaned otherwise.
Google Data Studio provides different ways to display geographical data. Most recently added is the ability to display information right onto Google Maps—allowing you to combine the functionality of a Google map along with your data.
As you’d expect, there are myriad ways to display the data. And to share those dashboards in various forms such as links, automated (scheduled) email PDFs, or embed on an intranet site and elsewhere.
Data Studio offers the ability to create different levels of access like owner vs. viewer credentials, and you can track and measure the dashboard usage. For example, you have ten stakeholders, yet you can see that only two of them accessed the dashboard this week. This allows you to see, perhaps, what is resonating with your stakeholders and which pages people tend to spend more time on. You can then you can use that information to make tweaks to your dashboard based on actual usage.
Andrew went on to go over a few examples of use case scenarios. He reiterated that the advantage of Data Studio is it allows you to take data already captured elsewhere and put it in a format that will help you tell your data narrative— the story that the data reflects.
There were a few questions and answers at the end that were equally educational. When asked how and where to start and what to take into consideration as you think through the process, Andrew replied, you should start small, ‘don’t try to boil the ocean,’ gain some confidence and then you’ll begin to think of creative ideas to different use case scenarios.
Johna Burke, AMEC’s Global Managing Director and former Burrelles CMO, summed it up with, “whether you are using a pen and a post-it-note or the Integrated Evaluation Framework (IEF), you must start with a clearly stated objective to set your mind on what you’re trying to accomplish.”
I found the information Andrew presented captivating and would encourage anyone interested in this area to view the replay of the webinar here.
About the speaker:
Andrew Bruce Smith, CIPR Fellow, is a co-author of ‘Share This’ and ‘Share This Too’, best-selling, practical handbooks to the biggest changes taking place in the media and its professions. He is the founder and director of Escherman, a digital communications consultancy based in Surrey, England.