Quality data and reporting, everybody wants it – but what’s the big fuss all about? If you’re hiring an agency or are already working with one, consider that every agency handles reporting on campaign performance differently. Some use PowerPoint to tell a story, some use visualization tools, still others send you a big ol’ Excel file (hopefully formatted and jazzed up a bit). Reporting isn’t necessarily one of the main topics most people searching for a new agency dig into deeply, but consider this the counter view. You should be asking an agency about reporting and really getting into the details. It’s not always sexy, but it’s absolutely essential to the entire process that reporting be done properly. You know the old saying – if a campaign kills it but nobody gets a proper report, does it even generate ROAS?
Here are some topics you should be discussing to identify if your potential partner is going to be a fit.
How Customized Should Agency Reporting Be?
Ask your agency what level of customization is possible. Can you get reporting by market? ROAS by channel and campaign? Are you able to identify and report on custom KPIs? Can reporting show YoY and MoM comparisons? Organizations often need different levels of reporting granularity. Can you get executive summaries in addition to deep dive reporting? Is it possible to track business objectives in addition to media metrics?
Here’s the deal: while every agency is going to tend to have a templated approach to reporting it’s very important to assess the level of customization possible. We believe in outlining in detail the metrics we report on, format, level of detail needed, frequency of reporting, access to data, etc. You need to determine your business needs and get a level of detail in reporting that generates benefit to you. If you’re a VP of Marketing taking your monthly agency report and spending hours distilling it into a 30,000 foot view for the C-suite every month, maybe your agency partner should be doing that. A quality partner is going to work with you on your reporting and adjust their approach to your needs. Find out before you start working together what their process is.
What Reporting Frequency Is Available and How Recent Is The Data?
This is the good stuff, please have a very open conversation with the agency about this. If they default to monthly reporting but you need to make weekly pivots depending on performance then that’s not a good fit. Beyond the data itself, will your reporting showcase trends? You cannot make strategic decisions on old data. Be upfront with your partner about what needs to be reported at a given frequency to set the partnership up for success. Your data should also be YOURS. You should have data transparency and ideally have access to any spreadsheets or platforms your agency is using. If an agency isn’t able to meet your data needs then it may not be a good fit. A lack of compatibility like this has a trickle down effect that negatively impacts long term campaign performance.
This question of data availability/frequency is important and will impact all aspects of what your agency partner is doing and how you are able to evaluate their performance. Planning a new effort without being able to fully understand what you’re currently doing is a recipe for mediocre campaigns. Fully vet their reporting process and give it the attention it deserves. Set the expectation that reporting needs to be done effectively and in a manner concurrent with your goals.
Who Owns The Data and Where Does It Come From?
Speaking of data ownership and transparency, let’s focus a bit more on that subject. First, you should always be the owner of your paid ad accounts like Google Ads, Bing, and Facebook Business Manager, not your agency. The same goes for Google Analytics and Tag Manager. Furthermore, make sure you understand the path that your data is taking on it’s way to you. Know what sources are pulling into reporting and what cleaning or processing is being done. Ideally get your own data access to compare against your final report delivered from your agency partner. Ask questions like “is my data being pulled from a reputable source, directly from the ad platform or a third party platform?” and understand the full array of available metrics from your individual platforms and any multi channel tools being used. You’ll be better positioned to realize greater success in your marketing.
Next read: Now that you’re thinking about how your data is being managed, make sure you have a solid understanding of data privacy and how it affects your business.