For digital marketers (and honestly anyone dealing with marketing analytics), understanding the art of data harmonization is extremely important. Let’s dig into the benefits of data unification and some of the best ad data harmonization tools available.
What is advertising data harmonization?
Data harmonization is the act of bringing together data from multiple platforms and/or sources and ensuring that they can be compared in a meaningful way. Most digital marketers are running ad campaigns across multiple platforms, which means in order to effectively measure the performance of these campaigns, data has to be pulled in from potentially dozens of channels. Without harmonization, the data can be misleading at best, useless at worst.
The process of data blending entails unifying data from multiple sources so it can be compared apples-to-apples, ensuring validity. Otherwise, data sets that appear to be the same may actually show very different pictures.
You might be thinking, “this sounds really complicated!” … and you’d be right. Data harmonization requires a deep understanding of all platforms data is being pulled from and when done manually, it requires a major time commitment. The fragmentation of marketing data can be a chore and many organizations find themselves trying to manually consolidate their information. But with the right automated platform (and the right marketing staff), it’s easy enough to bring in and analyze all your data at once.
Examples of advertising data harmonization tools
Let’s talk about tools that are available to harmonize ad data originating from multiple sources. Some of these are manual, some automated, some free, some at a cost—pick the right tool for what your organization requires to ensure the data you’re using to make decisions is valid.
Excel and Google Sheets for manual harmonization
The most common ad data harmonization tools are already available on your computer—Excel and Google Sheets. In an attempt to save budget (but maybe not their sanity), many marketers will opt for a manual process of data harmonization by unifying disparate data sets together via Excel. While this method is absolutely an option, it does present several problems:
- The process is laborious and time consuming … and since the data must be manually pulled from each data source, it’s also continual as new data is being updated every moment your campaigns are running.
- As the data is being manually pulled and unified, there is a lot of room for human error. Errors in the process create inaccurate data points … which defeats the entire purpose of harmonization.
If you’d like to try out the process of manually unifying your ad data, you can use the Guide to Data Standardization which provides a template for the most common data points that should be combined together.
Automate ad data harmonization with Joinr
Joinr is a free tool that allows marketers to automatically fetch, harmonize, and then flow advertising data into Google Data Studio (GDS). Joinr will then continually pull data and your campaigns run, and update GDS templates in real time.
- Instead of manually merging ad data sets together, Joinr automates the process for you—making harmonization more efficient and more accurate.
- Joinr will automatically push unified data into the GDS template of your choice—allowing you to easily report on performance or glean insights from your cross-channel campaigns.
Joinr includes free plans for individual data providers. You can sign up here and vote on which additional platforms you’d like to see integrated next.
Ninjacat for enterprise data harmonization
Softwares like Ninjacat will aggregate, harmonize, and then help you visualize all types of marketing and sales data. There are pros and cons to this type of software, but the biggest differentiator than the options above is the price tag. Ninjacat can cost anywhere from $1000 – $2500 a month, depending on what you’re using it for.
- Ninjacat will pull in data from all types of marketing platforms (not just paid ads) and unify it (if necessary).
- The platform will also help you organize and visualize your data, or flow it to another BI platform they integrate with.
- The cost associated with this type of enterprise-level tool is much greater than other options, and it can also come with quite a learning curve.
There are many advertising data blending tools available for marketers to pick from. To ensure your organization selects the right one, consider the following:
- How much time do I have to devote to the harmonization process?
- Is there a budget allotted to this portion of the advertising reporting process?
- What platforms will I be harmonizing data from?
Once your team understands the pros and cons of the different options available, you can pick the best harmonization solution for your situation.