Jul 11 2022
Clare McKinley

What is Automated Reporting?


For brands that want more transparency into campaign performance, agency leaders who are struggling to stay efficient under the burden of massive and disparate data sets, and media buyers who are contemplating yet another job switch to escape manual reporting duties, the very notion of “automated reporting for digital advertising” sounds almost too good to be true. Key word: almost.

But here’s the good news: Automated reporting exists, and it exists to make your life easier. The even better news? You’ve come to exactly the right place to learn what report automation is, how it works, and what its benefits are.

So settle in, make yourself comfortable, and get excited about a world where your team isn’t wasting hours of each work week on manual, error-prone data consolidation and campaign performance report generation tasks.

What is Automated Reporting?

Automated reporting consolidates performance data across marketing channels such as search, social, and programmatic and uses that data to automatically generate holistic campaign analytics reports.

How Do Automated Reports Work?

To best explain how automated advertising reporting works, let’s start by looking at how manual marketing reports are made. After all, the many hidden costs of manual reporting are what spurred the innovation of automated reporting.

Consider the following statistics from a recent survey of 300 CMOs:

  • 43% of the CMOs surveyed reported their teams spend more time compiling data than actually using it to make strategic decisions.
  • Half of the CMOs surveyed said the quantity of manual reporting required per campaign deters prospective employees from joining their teams.

Why is manual reporting such a burden for marketing teams? Well, to create reports manually, marketers must collect and verify data sets from multiple sources, identify and isolate the common metrics they’re interested in across those data sets, consolidate the data sets based on those metrics, and manually interpret that unified data before creating charts, graphs, and presentations to communicate their findings to clients.

Sounds...not great, right? Frankly, we’re getting bored just thinking about it. Worse yet, all that manual manipulation of precious campaign data creates numerous opportunities for human error, inconsistencies, and redundancies—all of which add up to low confidence in the reports themselves. Plus, the work involved in creating these reports is tedious, repetitive, and unfulfilling for marketers. It’s the kind of work that, in the context of the Great Resignation and a cutthroat job market, brands and agencies would do well to reduce—if not eliminate.

Automated reporting, by contrast, uses sophisticated technologies to automate the collection, unification, and presentation of campaign data, so marketers can create visually appealing, holistic reports just by telling the tech which metrics and date range they’re interested in.

Benefits of Automated Reporting

Automated reporting offers an array of benefits, all of which can add up to major competitive advantages for agencies and brands. Here are five of the biggest pros:

1. Boost Efficiency

Automation streamlines the collection, consolidation, and presentation of campaign analytics—achieving those tasks in a fraction of the time it would take someone compiling those reports manually. As a result, marketing organizations using automated reporting are more efficient, with more time each week for strategic tasks, networking, ongoing education, or even TikTok (we’re not judging, promise.)

2. Reduce Human Error

When humans manage the manual collection and consolidation of data, it’s easy to inadvertently copy and paste the wrong field or hit the wrong key—especially because this work is often frustrating and mind-numbingly tedious. Marketing teams can eliminate these kinds of human errors by leaving the collection and consolidation of data to technology.

3. Keep Data Safe

Data privacy will shape the current and future eras of advertising. In response to consumer demand for data privacy, legislators have passed digital advertising regulations like the EU’s GDPR and California’s Consumer Privacy Act, which aim to protect consumers from the unethical or unconsented use of their data.

As a result, marketing teams must handle their consumer data with extreme care. If your organization doesn’t collect, store, and use its data in ways that comply with industry regulations, fines and even legal prosecution may follow. While manual reporting can open companies up to costly errors related to data compliance, automated marketing reporting keeps the process clean.

4. Improve Campaigns

Economic upheaval, supply chain disruption, and global crises have cumulated in a cutthroat environment where consumers are increasingly switching brands, driven by lower prices and/or limited supply. With brand loyalty at stake, brands need frequent, crystal-clear reporting to identify what’s working in their campaigns and what isn’t. Tools like automated marketing reports streamline this process and, for agencies, can improve client communications and relationships.

5. Increase Job Satisfaction

Finally, in today’s candidate-driven market, the need to retain staff is urgent, but manual reporting is a known pain point for highly skilled marketers who don’t want to spend their time on tedious, repetitive tasks. Providing your team with tools that make their jobs easier and more enjoyable is a productive way to show them you’re looking out for their wellbeing. And if it just so happens to help them work more efficiently? All the better.

Meeting the Moment with Advertising Automation

Like any opportunity, the brands and agencies that adopt automated reporting early will gain a significant advantage over those who don't, giving them an edge in this highly competitive industry.

But reporting is just the start when it comes to the power of advertising automation. Billing automation and workflow automation, for example, can also provide game-changing efficiencies for brands. To learn more about how automation is poised to transform and improve the marketing industry, check out our guide, Meeting the Moment with Advertising Automation.

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