One thing seems clear: Marketing technology, such that it is, is eating the agency world. Sure, it is inevitable, given the forward march of amazing technology, but it creates a minefield of problems along the way.

What did you do with my money?

Did we meet our objectives?

Seems silly but when a brand gives an ad agency money, these are the two questions they want answered first. After that comes “Should we change anything?” or “Did you learn anything?” and so on. These questions are really begging for actual stories to be told.

Dashboards don’t tell stories. Reports tell stories.

In the past two years, I have been able to both interview and see actual reports for over 100 agencies. 99% of them do not use dashboards to report on their marketing activities. Some of them try to use dashboards to create reports (which is so much fun) but they are all a bit frustrated and often get steered back to Power Point.

Operators and Managers

They guys in the hard hats above are “operators.” They are like the folks running the programmatic stack or paid social on an account. They use dashboards to run their “power plant” effectively. Dashboards are perfectly designed for this (like the dashboard I used as a trader for Goldman Sachs.)

Those hard hats would never take their iPhone and snap a picture of the control panel for the CEO effectively saying “here you go, sir, you figure out how we’re doing.” yet that’s what agencies do when they send brands a dashboard. To be fair, some brands want the dashboard. Let’s be honest, those brands fancy themselves “operators” and can be hard to service.

Storytelling

A report is a story. It’s about data reduction not data aggregation. It’s “what piece of data do I need to illustrate my point, now go get it” That’s not a trivial task. It’s also not rocket science. It’s just a lot of work.

Panamplify

Now you know the way we view the problem and what we’re trying to tackle: doing something about that mountain of work associated with marketing storytelling.

Do you have a different view on this problem? I’d like to hear all viewpoints.