With over ten years of experience in media and advertising research and insight, Ian currently heads up the Guardian’s Commercial Insight team with a remit to provide the strategic data and insight required to fulfill the Guardian’s long-term commercial ambitions. Spanning display and branded content ad markets across mobile, desktop and print ad platforms, Ian has in his time taken numerous award-winning research initiatives to market (such as Audiences Not Platforms and The Guardian Guide to Context) and elevated the Guardian’s reputation for thought leadership in the media and advertising space.
We sat down with him ahead of the Big Data & Analytics Innovation Summit, taking place in London this November 16-17.
How did you get started in analytics?
My background is a mixed bag. It's one of an ad effectiveness researcher, media planner, market researcher and data story teller all in one. Analytics data is one of multiple data sources that I use to create both compelling narratives for brands (i.e. to support the external sales narratives) and compelling strategic narratives (i.e. to support the internal narrative around the business's organizational goals).
Are there any recent innovations or technologies that you see as a game changer for analytics professionals?
Data is getting more and more democratized. Analytics data has opened up a world of behavioral data to people who would never have dreamed of considering themselves a data analyst ten years ago. Aside from the obvious - Google Analytics - free tools like Similarweb and Bitly just open things up further. Learning how to harness all of this insight into a compelling data story remains a human skill however!
What are the unique challenges facing you in your current role that you are looking to solve with analytics?
The battle for attention in the digital space has never been fiercer. Publishers, platforms, ad tech and social channels are all competing not only for a share of consumer's time, but also for their engagement and the ad spend that in theory should follow. Meanwhile, all brands want is for consumers to engage with their advertising and comms in a meaningful way. It's not an insignificant task but analytics data has to be at least part of the answer to the question of how we balance the needs of consumers and advertisers alike!
What will you be discussing in your presentation?
To resist the forces of commoditization in the digital ad space, publishers must harness the power of their unique first party data, using it to tell compelling data driven stories for brands and consumers alike. I'm going to be talking about the biggest issues I see today with how data is applied in media and marketing and what we as an industry need to do about it.