Choosing A Reporting System!


Managing paid search campaigns takes time and expertise on many platforms. There may be some similarities between platforms but for the most part, each platform has its own nuances that require special training. With all the work that goes into running accounts, you need a report to accurately give the client data on how their money is being spent.

We currently utilize a reporting system that has the ability to report the major advertising platforms with options of all available metrics used in each platform. We were approached by a company to check out their reporting system for a 7 day trial period. We are always open to seeing what other options are available if we can improve on our current processes.

I will refer to the two systems as Current and Trial so not to promote or condemn either system.

Likes:

  1. The Funnel Activity Widget is a concise summary. I like the graph but combining the 3 metrics won’t give an accurate display on conversions. Limit the graph to 2 metrics with separate ranges on each side.
  2. Comparison on KPIs shows both numeric change and percentage change.
  3. The image graphics in KPI blocks add a bit of lightheartedness to the report.

Dislikes:

  1. No access to Bing or call tracking services we use. We were aware of this during a call with Augustus.
  2. Can’t select individual accounts in a manager’s MCC or a White Label’s MCC. All accounts would have to be listed in our Master MCC individually and not grouped by White label or with the appropriate account consultant.
  3. Report date selection does not include an option for Last 7/14/30 days and the comparison date does not autofill to the prior period of the same date range. You must select the start date and end date for both the reporting period and comparison period.
  4. You can’t move KPIs from one place to another to rearrange the report layout without having to delete, move and re-add the deleted KPI.
  5. If you want to remove a data source from a report it takes 7 days to remove and it continues to show on the report in the Report Header. (I am guessing it will show until the 7 day period has gone by)
  6. There are no options on individual widgets to select how many lines to report, the widgets are fixed and display a maximum of 8 lines.
  7. The Top Campaigns widget does not display Campaign totals, it breaks out by device and displays by a device within Campaign. Each campaign is listed 3 times, one for each device category. We don’t always want to report this way. With the limited number of reporting lines, total clicks do not add up to the clicks reported in the Click KPI block.
  8. There are no page continuations on large widget tables. When placing widgets if they won’t fit in the space left on a page they won’t “sit” where you want them, so you have to start a new page.
  9. All Custom Widgets are manual entries. It would be more convenient if you had choices of metrics to choose from and they auto-filled.
  10. Some fields in custom widgets do not wrap text if longer than the width of the display box. There should be an option to adjust font size.
  11. When setting up automated reports you are not given an option for what day of the week you want to receive the report. I set up one automatic report and will see when it lands in my Inbox.

Summary:

With only a quick review of the website prior to our call with Trial I was cautiously optimistic we might be able to utilize the service. During the call with Augustus and Johnny, we got the feeling this was a young company looking to grow because of some of the platform options that were not available.

The image graphics on KPI blocks is creative and add a bit of whimsy to the report. They help describe the metric to a point but do not add to the functionality of the report and space could be better used.

I do like the fact that both a percentage and numeric change are reported in the KPI blocks. A client can be impressed with large improvement percentages, but they like to see hard numbers as well. This is an item we do not have in the current reporting system and would be beneficial.

Even though we were informed items we wanted to add would be worked on, we need a product ready to push out complete reports right away. Not having access to Bing and call tracking services we use are not something that we can wait for, clients don’t want to hear “We are starting a new reporting system and it is being customized for us and you will get more data as items are added.”

I was unable to select an individual account within one of the account manager’s MCCs, it would list the manager’s MCC account as the data source but since there is no account data associated at that level it could not create a report. This would be true with White Label MCC’s as well, as mentioned above, all account would have to be listed in our main MCC which would uncover the White Label cloak.

The ability to not delete a data source and have it eliminated immediately is a concern since data sources are listed in the report header. The 7-day removal period means a client wouldn’t get a report that week or we would have to create a new report. This may not be much of an issue, but it would be a major inconvenience for the employee creating reports.

We now have the ability to adjust widget tables and graphs to include metrics we want to report and sort by numerous options. When creating a new report template not having a drag and drop ability adds to the time it takes to creating by having to delete a widget then moving others where they are wanted or needed and then re-adding the deleted widget.

Since the largest part of our clients use AdWords that is the type of client I used for my testing. The widget options available are very limited to our options we currently have at our disposal and if this is an indication in other platforms we would not be able to deliver the information our clients are used to but most importantly need to make decisions on the direction of their campaigns and budget adjustments.

If we take the pricing into consideration as it is presented, we are looking at nearly double we are currently paying per month. Currently, we are charged by the number of customers we have with unlimited templates and reports. With Trail, we would be charged by platforms or data sources as they refer to it. We currently pay $3 per client and would have to pay $5 per data source. The number of data sources is calculated by adding up the number of data sources each client uses. If they have just 1 platform we would be billed for 1 data source. If a client is running 2 platforms we would be charged for 2 data sources. Together we would be charged for 3 data sources. With a 40% higher charge per billable item plus the multiple charges per client. If a client used, and we could report all platforms we manage, there would be a 733% increase in charges. Most clients run 2 platforms which would result in a 233% increase and if they ran 3 platforms, which is not uncommon, there would be a 400% increase.

With the work needed to give us a product we can confidently deliver information to our clients, I do not see this being something we can move forward with. We took a big step forward when we moved to Current and we cannot afford to take 2 steps back by moving to Trial.

Here are some personal thoughts. Current is based in Sweden. Trial is also based in Sweden. Is this a coincidence or is this a spinoff company by past employees? We have online chat support with Current at this time, but they merged with a company in the US based in Illinois, so we should be moving to live support if we need it. If we move to Trial we would be staying with an online chat for support.

When looking for viable replacements you have to keep an open mind to compare the old with the new. If you like a system you are currently working with it could be because you have grown accustomed to it and accepted its shortcomings.

 

 

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