Analytics Fireside Chat

Analytics Fireside Chat: Peter O'Neill - MeasureCamp, Ayima

Peter O'Neill, MeasureCamp Founder & Director of Analytics at Ayima, shares insights on digital analytics and how to make the right decisions with trustworthy data.

Diana Daia
February 24 · 7 min read

If you've heard of MeasureCamp, then you've definitely heard of Peter O'Neill. The founder of the popular unconference and Director of Analytics at the digital marketing agency Ayima, Peter is a digital analytics and tag management expert. Get his insights on the present and future of analytics! 

You're the founder of MeasureCamp, the digital analytics unconference that has grown to be one of the leading analytics events in the world. How has it evolved throughout the years? What are the lessons you've learned about cultivating a knowledge-sharing space?

In an interesting way, the actual event has not changed over the years. The structure, ideas, discussions, and atmosphere are pretty much the same from the first MeasureCamp in London to the most recent MeasureCamp in London to all the other editions that have been held around the world. The evolution has really been in the spread of the event, across Europe and then over the oceans to Australia/New Zealand and the United States. I am really looking forward to it one day being held in South America, Asia (although there was an early event in Hong Kong) and Africa. The difference is in the awareness of the event and how the day unfolds, so attendees are more prepared, bringing a session idea with them and participating from the first minute. The real reason I think MeasureCamp works as a knowledge-sharing space is that it is given both the structure and lack of structure to allow people who attend a MeasureCamp to take control of their experience. They are encouraged to share their ideas, knowledge, and experience in an open environment where everyone is welcomed and all are equal. That is a rare opportunity.

To get real impact from analytics, companies need to invest in it properly, in the tools, the people, developing the right processes and in changing the culture of the company so there is a willingness to use data and not just opinions to make decisions.

You've been helping organizations use analytics successfully for many years. Which 3 tips would you give companies to drive more impact with their analytics in 2020?

The first tip, the biggest tip, is to take analytics seriously. To get real impact from analytics, companies need to invest in it properly, in the tools, the people, developing the right processes and in changing the culture of the company so there is a willingness to use data and not just opinions to make decisions. The second point is to focus on the decisions and actions that can be improved through the use of data – the value of analytics comes from influencing the behaviour of internal stakeholders to make smarter decisions and take smarter actions to get better results. Finally, I would add that we should never forget that the data points we are constantly looking at represent people and that is the behaviour of people we need to understand.

What are the tough truths that we don't talk a lot about in the analytics ecosystem?

That as a whole, digital analytics is failing. Given the impact we can have on business performance, we should be the most in-demand people for any organisation. Instead, the money will go first to any marketing channel to bring in more traffic before money is spent on optimising that marketing spend or traffic performance. Websites and website features are constantly released with zero to minimal analytics tracking included, it is not included as show stopper on a go/no go decision. We know the barriers to the use of Digital Analytics and we know the solutions but we must be getting something wrong as the situation is still not changing.

The value of analytics comes from influencing the behaviour of internal stakeholders to make smarter decisions and take smarter actions to get better results.

Which actions should every company take to build a solid data foundation for analytics?

Invest in ML and AI!! Nope. Spend time thinking about the people who will see your marketing and how they will use your website. Spend time identifying the decisions you will make and actions you will take that can be influenced by data. Invest time and resources into capturing the right information and in making sure it can get into the hands of the people who need to use it – and that they are trained in how to do so. That is where the difference can really be made.

Why is access to accurate data crucial to scaling marketing?

In a way, accurate data is not as important as useful and usable data. Digital Analytics data is never going to be 100% accurate but it has to be reliable and most importantly trusted. Once businesses trust their data, and the set-up is designed so it is useful and usable, then they can start making decisions based on the data. Without the trust in the data, organisations will continue just using their opinions.

Once businesses trust their data, and the set-up is designed so it is useful and usable, then they can start making decisions based on the data. Without the trust in data, organisations will continue just using their opinions.

What emerging challenges are analysts facing today? How can they turn them into opportunities?

I think that in a lot of ways, the challenges have not changed. The business questions are still exactly the same – who are our customers, where are they located, what do they want, what do we need to say to them? The technology is becoming more powerful which is both an opportunity (more ability to do analysis) and challenge (new tools to learn). The actual challenge is that expectations are so much higher, analysts are expected to know every tool & skill set – that is just not possible. Look at so many job ads that are out there, they need 3 or more people to tick off all the requirements. And you have c-suite and business owners asking for impossible or impractical solutions from Digital Analysts, as they have heard the claim that Digital Analytics easily provides these answers & solutions.

The biggest barrier to the use of data is not technology, it is company culture. This takes time to change so the biggest tactic is to keep persisting with different approaches and methods to champion the use of data and demonstrate the value it is adding.

What are your winning tactics for maximizing the value of data in organizations?

The biggest barrier to the use of data is not technology, it is company culture. This takes time to change so the biggest tactic is to keep persisting with different approaches and methods to champion the use of data and demonstrate the value it is adding.

If you were to predict the next big thing in digital analytics, what would that be?

The development of tools and automated solutions that take advantage of the new powerful tools to empower analysts to produce results they couldn’t have done previously (even with the best of intentions). But also just doing the same things we have been doing for years but finally being able to do them quickly to free up time for doing proper analysis & produce great results for any business. I also think that at some point, the reliance on Google Analytics as the primary option if you are not paying for GA360 or Adobe Analytics will reduce.

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