Data at Digitaria; CEO Dan Khabie Talks Creative Analytics

digitariaLast week, JWT announced it would rebrand its Minneapolis office to become part of Digitaria’s growing network. The Minneapolis outpost is a dedicated digital operation with clients including UnitedHealth Group.

San Diego-based Digitaria was founded as a digital design firm in 1997 but has extended to website development, search, analytics, and even digital product invention for companies like Prima and Qualcomm. Its new Minneapolis location adds 60 employees and a strong base of operations in the Midwest. Its other offices are New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

With more capabilities comes a larger measurement burden. AdExchanger contacted CEO Dan Khabie to ask what role data plays in the agency’s process and creative product.

AdExchanger: What capabilities does Digitaria’s new Minneapolis location bring to your offerings?

DK: I would say they bring deep experience in enterprise CMS deployments and understand how to connect the content experience with the acquisition marketing side of the business.

What role does data play in developing Digitaria’s creative product?

Digitaria’s core creative product has changed over the years from a website to a web connected product with digital and physical properties. Analytics and data play an integral part in our digital product innovation process to inform iterative improvements, evaluate success/ROI and illuminate insights. With connected products we have the opportunity to design measurement strategies that speak not only to awareness and engagement, but usability too.

Awareness metrics look at how many are using the product and how they found it, while engagement metrics start to get at a sense of affinity and loyalty towards the product. Usability metrics provide data around task-based interactions, which is a unique emphasis of many digital products. Our expectation that digital products, that are connected, will be iteratively optimized, necessitates the inclusion of analytics from the earliest creative phases.

We infuse analytics and data into our process from the start. Most creative briefs will indicate high-level objectives. Our analytics team is immediately tasked with looking under the hood of those objectives to determine how they can be measured or predicted (through data capture, survey, competitive benchmarks or other methods) and if there are historical or competitive precedents that we can benchmark against.

During our ideation phase, analytics and data are used to support creative ideas, initially drawn from research and emotional sources. Analytics is also used at this point in the process to indicate what measures will be used to either determine success or glean insights for future iterations of the creative ideas. The benefit of this upfront involvement of analytics is two fold: a reduction in gut rejection of our most creative and innovative ideas and the ability to plan ahead for insights gathering and ROI assessments for the lifespan of the product.

How is data’s role at the agency changing? 

At Digitaria, we have seen a change in analytics and data being used for after-the-fact reporting to become a part of the ongoing creative process. This shift is a natural progression that follows the trend towards responding to user needs in near-real time. We achieve this by creating frameworks that allow us to release data-driven, seamless product upgrades that enhance the user experience. Analytics data collection within connected products facilitates always-on, bidirectional relationships between our products and their users. The information reported and analyzed, along with other quantitative, qualitative and creative inputs, supports the prioritization of product upgrades. By planning ahead to capture data that informs usability and supports overall objectives, we avoid creative idea stagnation and ensure digital product innovation.

By Zach Rodgers

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