The pressure to demonstrate positive outcomes imposes narrative bias that can skew effective reporting. In this article, we’ll outline three steps you can take to ensure you are providing objective reporting.

Establish KPIs To Set Clear and Defined Goals

Meaningful reporting cannot be accomplished without measuring success against clear and well-defined goals. This means ensuring that your key performance indicators (KPIs) align with your business goals as well as the capabilities of the medium utilized to deliver your campaign. You wouldn’t expect to drive online ticket sales without a destination website, right? Expectations, determined by establishing KPIs prior to campaign launch, will ultimately guide the narrative for reporting well in advance of your target consumers seeing your ad placements.

Report On the Broader Picture for More Actionable Insights

Once you have fine-tuned your KPIs and run your campaigns, you are ready to begin the reporting cycle. Campaign data will tell a broader story beyond micro-level insights, such as specific creative or audience performance. Start by taking a high-level look at your overall campaign performance. While the granular data points are important to note, avoid utilizing them as your insights, as they do not add more than surface-level context to a report. Anyone can read the numbers on a dashboard, so make sure that your insights are just that, insightful. What does the performance of a specific piece of creative tell you about how a particular audience reacted to it? At a high level, the question becomes, did channel X outperform channel Y for your primary KPIs? This would tell you about where your intended audience spends their time, and how they respond to specific messaging across different channels.

Letting the broader data guide the narrative will lead to more insightful and actionable insights. Identify trends such as differences in performance across channels or audiences and find the most interesting story within the numbers. Don’t worry if your campaigns don’t perform as expected; they do not always perform at or above forecasted levels. Use key learnings to derive an action plan on how to improve. For example, if KPIs are down across the board, own the story and devise an action plan to present what you’ll do to make improvements. Proactive planning such as a new A/B testing strategy or a completely new plan for channel allocations can go a long way in redeeming a flat media campaign.

Use Key Insights to Iterate and Refine

Avoid a rinse and repeat media plan that has proven unsuccessful. Instead, think about the broader picture and what you can change to see improvements. What insights were you able to capture from your reporting to iterate and refine for a future campaign? Identify key wins and assess what changes you can make such as additional channel testing, expanded partnerships, or new creative directions.

Consider other tangible solutions like the following:

  • Channel reallocations
  • Creative testing
  • Audience expansions
  • Website or landing page testing

Go Forth and Report

Outline and communicate your KPIs clearly and carefully during the planning process. Align with your client, boss, cat, or whomever will ultimately hold you accountable for campaign performance and ensure all members are clear on the goals and performance metrics that will be evaluated at reporting time. Then, present the facts as outlined by the data. Take a high-level approach to campaign evaluation and dig for meaningful insights at each level as you scope campaigns, audiences, ads, etc. Don’t be afraid if your original hypothesis was incorrect and don’t bury poor performance behind a mountain of fluff and meaningless information. Finally, using the data and insights you’ve discovered, craft a plan to improve. Evaluate your campaign’s performance and develop the next phase based on your key learnings. Using this strategy as your baseline, you are sure to have a more streamlined and less stressful experience the next time your campaign reporting is due.