(This is a business case study. It will be used to guide discussions during the session: “Organizational Metrics and Tools” at the Vendo Partner Conference in Barcelona on September 17th.)
Andrew pushed himself away from his desk with both hands and threw them in the air. “How could I not have seen that!” he shouted. “If this happens again I’m done…this f—ing sucks.”
A minor change at a major traffic source had moved his ad spot by 200 pixels…in the wrong direction. A profitable spot had gone south (literally and figuratively). It was a casual move by a young programmer. Unfortunately, each month Andrew was paying the equivalent of the young man’s annual salary for the spot and, all of a sudden – with no warning – the deal went from profitable to dogshit.
It had happened before. Too many times. Andrew had had enough. He couldn’t operate with the equivalent of small town policing (not enough cops on the street, arriving after the damage was done) when he was buying a good percentage of all the traffic out in the market. He needed an up to date, New York City-style police command center if he was going to be able to operate at scale. After all, hundreds of deals don’t just watch themselves.
He began investigating 3rd party dashboard options like Voluum. What he found shocked him. “We used to feel like we were ahead of the times and then, well, we felt like we were behind,” Andrew said after surveying the offers in the market. “So we decided to make it a priority. Some of what works in other industries doesn’t match our needs. We have strong technical resources with Tom leading the engineering team. So, me and my partners decided to go internal,” Andrew recalled about the decision taken last October.
They’re glad they did. It turns out that one of the most valuable assets of the system is easy, fast improvements. When he learns something new it leads him to ask another question, get the answer to that new question and…repeat the process.
He also discovered that the dashboard needs to be primarily graph based. There are just too many numbers for the eye to track easily. He uses the system to troubleshoot. And he’s added many more dimensions. Before he only had easy access to impressions, clicks, sales and country. Now he can see language and many other dimensions. In addition to the dashboard his new tool lets him segment traffic and serve different ads based on those profiles (ex. demographics).
It’s an ongoing process. His objective is to no longer lack information or fly blind. For example, he couldn’t easily segment traffic to serve up different ads or products (ex. Indian, Android traffic would be a cumbersome, manual process to carve out). With the ability to see lifetime value per traffic source, in addition to other metrics, the new system is enabling him to find areas that are profitable so he can double down. He can more easily see unprofitable areas, too, and quickly sell them off.
Andrew concluded, “The main goal is keep things running smoothly. I have to catch things quickly because there is a lot of money at stake. And I’m much closer today that I ever was before.”
What does your dashboard look like? How are you adapting it to your changing business? How are you measuring investment and return?
Questions for discussion: Are you getting the most from your resources? How do you measure investment and return? What’s on your dashboard? What kind of reports do you get?