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What’s your barrier to action?

July 16, 2009

I’m reading Occam’s Razor, the very wonderful blog about analytics. In it, Avinash Kaushik talks about the “11 barriers to an effective online measurement strategy.” He goes on to lament that these are the “11 painful reasons why extracting value from web analytics is still worse than attempting to climb Mt. Everest for some of the top companies.”

Herein is this list, in order of importance.

  1. Lack of budget/resources (45%)
  2. Lack of strategy (31%)
  3. Siloed organization (29%)
  4. Lack of understanding (25%)
  5. Too much data (18%)
  6. Lack of senior management buy-in (18%)
  7. Difficulty reconciling data (17%)
  8. IT blockages (17%)
  9. Lack of trust in analytics (16%)
  10. Finding staff (12%)
  11. Poor technology (9%)

This list immediately got me thinking about the barriers to effectively adding social media to a marketing campaign. Before I start, I should point out that Avinash answers them very well for analytics.You should go read his post. And this one too. In fact, you should just subscribe to his feed like many thousands of people already have,

Back to the list. I know the list was about analytics, but i began to see barriers for thinking digitally in this list. Remember, Crispin Porter has opened up a European base of operations and called it their creative hub. The agency they bought was an interactive one. Meaning, everything there will start with digital. So, herein is my explanation of these barriers.

1. Lack of budget/resources
The budget. Think about the way advertising works in a traditional way. Briefs were always for tactics: a TV brief, a print brief. A Website brief. And these briefs demanded committed teams to execute the tactic. thinking digitally at the beginning means bringing more people to the table. That means more money. And that doesn’t just mean more programmers. It means more people with the knowledge to do things. Again, imagine the idea is going to have a Facebook page with working FBML added to it. That’s Facebook’s language, and it’s an investment to get it done. It’s a double-edged sword this lack of budget thing. But one we have to overcome through continued education. We’re not far from the day where we’ll have computers in our mobiles that are more powerful than anything on our current desktop.

2. Lack of strategy (31%)
If someone sits there saying we need a Facebook page, or a twitter feed, or this shiny new things, ask them why. If they don’t have an answer, they don’t have something even pretending to be a strategy and the thing will languish. We saw this with the first wave of websites. People simply said: we have to have a website. The website didn’t have a goal, it was a tactic without a goal. John Wanamaker would have argued that he knew exactly where the money was being wasted on most websites.

3. Siloed organization (29%)
The advertising industry is a classic silo industry. We call them departments, but they might as well be called silos. Social media has the word media, but should you invite creatives, media, production? What are the people called who work on a campaign that has a TV spot, a Facebook page and a promotion on package? Are we all Interactive? The silos exist on the client side as well. It used to be easier to be a silo because the thing was the thing. In-store was different from TV, the client had Sales doing instore, and marketing doing TV. But now, people can watch TV on the things they bring in store. We don’t know where the lines cross, but we know they are crossing.

4. Lack of understanding (25%)
This is all new. And some people (Avinash calls them the HIPPOS — the highest paid people in the room) don’t like knew things because it puts them on uncomfortable grounds. I once heard a senior marketing person ask if they had o be on Facebook in order to be current. There’s a glimmer of fear with all this stuff because it’s changing so fast. The smarter ones try it, and then tell you it’s full of crap. But some senior people ignore it. Meaning, they lack an opinion so they try to change the subject back to print.

5. Too much data (18%)
Lets call this one too many shiny new tools. It’s overwhelming the amount of options out there. Microblogging, blogging, video sharing, presentation sharing, live streaming, tweeting, status, MySpace, Facebook, Bebo. It’s too much. What’s LinkedIn? What’s Tagged? And what in the hell is 4G? These people generally bemoan the fact that people don’t have real conversations any more, and long for the olden days.

6. Lack of senior management buy-in (18%)
See #4. This isn’t an across the board attack on older people. There are many people who are willing to jump in and try stuff and listen to opinions, and explore. Ad agencies are made up of these people, and many of the people ar EMA are these people. This is less a problem than I think Avinish finds, but it is compounded by 1-5.

7. Difficulty reconciling data (17%)
I think this reads better as what’s the ROI of this stuff? What are we measuring, if anything, and how does that impact sales? What does a follower mean? What does a fan mean? What’s a hit? What’s an interaction and why do I want conversations? It’s funny: the industry doesn’t have an ROI fixation for a TV spot, but if a Facebook page doesn’t offer measurable behavior changes then forget it. There needs to be a full understanding of the goals of a digital execution. Until goals are developed for tactics, we’ll play ring around the ROI for a long time. See #2.

8. IT blockages (17%)
There’s a growing idea that all these new sites, from YouTube to Facebook, are just a huge distraction and a colossal waste of time. Many companies block these sites. They are considered a waste of time, a waste of bandwidth, a waste of resources. If that’s the official attitude of the company, how could they even be sold on a campaign that uses them?

9. Lack of trust in analytics (16%)
I think there’s a lack of trust in these tools because there’s a feeling that this is all a fad, and one day, we’ll go back to watching TV spots and doing print ads like the Mad Men get to do.

10. Finding staff (12%)
Best buy had an ad out there for a community manager. In the listing, they had suggested that the potential applicant should gave a minimum of 250 followers on Twitter. To me, this is evidence that we don’t really know what we’re looking for. Twitter can be gamed, so can Facebook and LinkedIn. So if it’s just numbers that matter, then we’re looking at it wrong. I point that out only to show the dramatic confusion people have with finding staff. Not only is it tough, it’s tough to even know what they want. Copywriters used to be easy to find. Now what?

11. Poor technology (9%)
And here we come, to the last one. And in his post, Avinash rants about the fact that even though people don’t have a problem with the tools. that’s where all the conversations are happening. We read all the time that Twitter is great, or that it’s bad. Facebook is dying, but it’s awesome. MySpace is struggling, but it’s still a great place to show off video. We don’t really talk about the things on the list in 1-10. And those are the things we need to figure out if we’re going to have digital at the table first.

So, what have you found to be your barriers? And how to you overcome them?

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