While there are many variables that marketers examine when shopping for tech partners, one area that’s particularly critical for vendors is having the ability to leverage data in real time.
In a survey of US business-to-business (B2B) marketing and sales professionals by InsightSquared and Heinz Marketing, actionable analytics and reporting were the features that respondents most prioritized when choosing a marketing automation vendors. These capabilities were found to be more important than generating leads or usability.
But what’s frustrating for these marketers is that the features they prioritize also leave them the least satisfied. Just 41.2% of respondents said they are satisfied with the analytics and reporting they receive from their automation vendors. In fact, across the eight features the researchers examined, this was the only one whose level of satisfaction trailed its rated importance.
Receiving adequate reporting is difficult for many marketers who automate their ad buying. In a January 2018 survey of US marketers by Centro and Advertiser Perceptions, 73% of respondents said that getting better reporting deliverables from their data sources was a challenge they faced with their programmatic ad management.
The rapid changes that occur in the marketing technology industry make campaign reporting quite difficult for the vendors that marketers rely on. Anytime a new trend emerges in digital advertising, vendors have to scramble to match the new data requests marketers are making. For example, ads.txt—a text file on publishers’ sites that lists all the vendors that are authorized to sell their inventory—came out about a year ago, but vendors have already built ads.txt filters in their dashboards after getting pressured by their marketer clients to do so.
Even if marketers prioritize a few features when picking vendors, it’s still difficult to make the right choice among a crowded landscape. Infectious Media surveyed 200 marketers worldwide in September 2017 and found that more than 58% said that tech selection is very challenging for them.
Another issue that makes reporting challenging is that wonky topics like real-time analytics don't typically get tech firms press. InsightSquared found that there were 127 press releases issued by the industry’s top marketing automation vendors last year, but just four focused on analytics features. The others centered on buzzwords like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“Reporting is insufficiently sexy,” wrote InsightSquared's CMO Joe Chernov. “It doesn’t gin up PR in the way that, say, a new artificial intelligence product might.”