With the start of the new school year, I’ve decided to share a little more about what we are doing in class each week with hope that it will encourage connection between the digital marketing community and students. Please join in the conversation.
While Angelina Jolie is reportedly scheduled to teach at the London School of Economics this fall, here at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, we welcome Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill (via their 2011 hit movie Moneyball) to illustrate some very important concepts in Digital Marketing Analytics.
Moneyball tells the story of how the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team applied the principles of sabermetrics to analyze every aspect of their game, and to then invest their relatively small budget for player salaries in very smart, statistically significant ways. The movie is based on the book, Moneyball, written by Michael Lewis in 2003.
Why are we doing this? In my Digital Marketing Analytics (MARK4650) class, students become very good at using analytical tools. By the end of the course they will be GAIQ Certified (Google Analytics) and hold both AdWords and Advanced Search credentials – which is great, but it’s not enough.
Any monkey can learn to work a tool. To be a great analyst, you have to know which questions to ask and at the same time, understand what you are not asking. You must have clearly articulated goals that are in alignment with the organization. You must trust your process and give it time to work but you should not be afraid to act when the numbers are telling you to change course.
For me though, the most important lessons come from studying the relationship between Billy Beane (Pitt) and Peter Brandt (Hill). Peter Brandt had to not only have a strong grasp of the data; he needed to provide the information to Billy Beane in a way for Beane to make decisions.
Finding the story in the numbers and communicating it the right way is critical.
Best Practice: Never send your stakeholder (boss, client, co-worker) a link and hope they find what they need. Lead them to the conclusion through your thought process but don’t overwhelm them with too much information. Like Pete, master the art of synthesizing and communicating.
Don’t get emotionally connected to your hypothesis and then find numbers to justify your favorite outcome.
Best Practice: Remember to check your emotions at the door. Become the Pete for your Billy. Analysts are the voice of reason and rational thought. There are natural cheerleaders within the organization that will push for one solution or the other. Like the journalists of yesterday, strive to present your information without bias.
Have clear goals and align them with the right metrics.
Best Practice: Pete made it clear that knowing what you need is the first thing you need. “We need you to get on first base – not get thrown out at second.”
Just because you can measure everything, doesn’t mean it’s a good use of your time to do so.
So, in addition to learning analytics this semester, students will also practice storytelling, learn about relationships and examine their own code of ethics. What are your thoughts?