Google Data Studio: The Beginner’s Tutorial

Google Data Studio is a communication tool. It brings together data you store in several places so you can visualize it on one screen. The goal of using Data Studio is to become a data communicator, not a data plumber.

There are several Data Studio beginner’s guides in the wild. I’ve created this one to get you thinking in Data Studio terms. It’s a proper tutorial, taking you through things step-by-step. Where there’s too much to say about a feature, I’ll link to relevant documentation or other blog posts. And of course, this guide is for you — please ask questions and leave feedback so that we can improve it!


Data Studio lets you visualize data from many sources

You only need a Google account to get started

Get oriented

Make your first report

Connect a sample data source

Get acquainted with the report interface

Now let’s make a chart

Add a time series

Set dimensions and metrics

Set the date range

Update the style to use bars

Label your chart

Admire your work

Add interactivity

Add a filter control

Connect your data [optional]

Share your report

What we learned

Do more, learn more

Data Studio lets you visualize data from many sources

The compelling reason to choose Data Studio is the sources from which it can pull data. With it, you can use almost any data available from Google. That includes Google Analytics, AdWords, Search Console, BigQuery, and more.

Data Studio is also easier to learn and teach than the alternatives. In particular, querying the Google Analytics API requires learning a complete vocabulary of dimensions and metrics (“Page” → “ga:pagePath”) and operators (“Match Regex” → “=~”). Data Studio renders that obsolete for many use cases.

Finally, the fact that Data Studio makes all these data sources available lets you juxtapose charts from many sources in one report. For instance, you might want to chart both organic traffic from Google Analytics and clicks from Search Console in the same report. With Data Studio, you can!

You only need a Google account to get started

Data Studio is a free product. The only way to incur expense is if there are fees associated with accessing your data source. For instance, BigQuery charges for some requests. That won’t happen in this tutorial.

All you need to get started is a Google Account. If you have personal data to work with, experimenting will be much more fun — but it isn’t required.


Note that you may have to accept some terms and conditions before creating your first report. For some reason, this process can be a bit finicky. If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.

Get oriented

See interface documentation.

The next thing you’ll see is the central Data Studio interface. Data Studio is part of Google Drive — like Docs, Sheets, or Slides. The interface of Data Studio is similar to The interface lists only Data Studio documents. You’re meant to do organizing within Google Drive as opposed to Data Studio itself. That’s why you can’t make folders on this screen.

Unfamiliar territory!

One difference worth noting is that instead of a single document type, Data Studio has two. There are Reports and Data Sources. In this tutorial, we’ll be manipulating reports, and using the sample data sources provided by default.

Make your first report

See report documentation.

Make sure you’re looking at the Reports section as opposed to the Data Sources section. You should see Reports by default. Click the familiar “+” button in the bottom right corner to get the ball rolling! If everything is going as planned, you should now have a blank canvas:

Connect a sample data source

See data source documentation.

Before you can add any charts to your report, Data Studio needs to know where that data is. Fortunately, Data Studio comes with several sample data sources to help you get started. Each of these has a name that starts with “[Sample]”. For now, choose “[Sample] Google Analytics Data”:

You’ll see a request for confirmation. Click add to report.

This sample data source exposes Google Analytics data from the Google Store. We’ll show you how to add a custom data source later in the tutorial.

Get acquainted with the report interface

See report interface documentation.

At this point you’ve got a blank report in front of you — the world is your oyster! If you want to mess around a bit, feel free. Anything you add will use the data source we just added.

You can always undo anything or create a new report if you don’t like the result!

Now let’s make a chart

I don’t want to bury the lede. Here’s what we’re going to create:

see the finished product

This is a simple chart. It shows sessions to the Google Store website by month and compares each month to the same month last year. It also happens to use most of the features you’ll need to master in Data Studio, so it’s a great starting place. This is what it looks like:

Add a time series

See chart type documentation.

A time series is a type of chart. Its defining characteristic is that its x-axis is a unit of time. In Data Studio, a chart isn’t just defined by how it looks. In fact, there are multiple ways to make something that appears to be a column chart. Instead, a chart also specifies what data it accepts as inputs and how it transforms that data into a visual.

Try adding a time series to your chart now. It’s the very first chart type in the toolbar:


Dragging a box on your canvas will result in something like this:

Humble beginnings.

Congratulations — you’ve made your first chart! Let’s take a moment to analyze what just happened. You said you wanted a time series. On the other hand, you didn’t have an opportunity to specify what data you wanted to visualize. Data Studio chose some reasonable defaults for you (charting Sessions by Date). Next, we’ll see how to customize these choices so that you aren’t stuck with these defaults forever.

Set dimensions and metrics

See dimensions and metrics documentation.

Dimensions and metrics in Data Studio are conceptually the same as dimensions and metrics in Google Analytics. If you’re using Google Analytics as a data source, the same dimensions and metrics will be available to you in Data Studio.

A quick refresher: metrics are numbers, and dimensions allow you to slice and dice those numbers in different ways. Pageviews and Sessions are both metrics. Page and Landing Page and Default Channel Grouping are dimensions.

The chart we just created shows Sessions by Date. By selecting the chart, we can change these in the right-hand sidebar shown below.

We’ll keep Sessions the same, but change the time dimension to be Month of Year. Be careful here — Month of the year and Month of Year are two different dimensions. To create our example chart, we want Month of Year. The result will look something like this:

Not a great visual — a time series with only two data points? A little wonky, but never fear. We just need to inspect a wider date range.

Set the date range

See date and time documentation.

The reason that the chart only has one or two data points now is that by default Data Studio will show the last 30 days of data. Most of the time that means a chart by month will only show partial data for last month and this month.

Let’s make things more exciting. In that same sidebar, you’ll see an option to set the default date range. Use it to select “Last Year”.

Now we’ve got an appropriate time range to show off our website’s performance:

Finally, let’s compare this data against last year’s. In the same date range control panel, select a comparison period:

Which results in:

We’re most of the way there at this point. The data that we want to visualize is there; it just doesn’t look quite the same.

Update the style to use bars

See time series documentation.

The most apparent difference between our chart and the target is that the target chart uses bars instead of lines. Since we want to be able to compare specific months against their performance last year, grouped bars will be more natural for our audience to interpret.

Click your way over to the Style section in the right-hand sidebar. At the top, you’ll see a conspicuous option to use Bars instead of a Line to represent your data.

This has the expected result:

So the chart seems correct, but the example also has a pretty title at the top. What about that?

Label your chart

Data studio offers bare essential drawing tools — text box, image, rectangle, and circle:

Choose one or more of these and drag away. Let your inner artist out! Take a gander at the options given in the sidebar. Foreground and background colors can be selected, in addition to basic font choices.

Here’s what I came up with:

If you’d like to have more fun — and maybe make the chart align better with your own brand — you can also play with the style controls. Select the chart and click “Style” in the sidebar. Check out the series color options, and font face and size options. Extreme changes are possible. You can even turn off the axes entirely!

Admire your work

For those following along, you’ll see that we’ve built what we had planned. If you want to scope out what your report really looks like, hit the View button:

This removes the helpful design grid and the rest of the UI elements. It brings your visualization to the foreground.

If you give someone view permission, this is what they will see.

Add interactivity


One of the great things about Data Studio is that it also accommodates interactivity. Let’s say we’re presenting this chart to our board, who is interested not only in trends in overall sessions but also in the channels from which those sessions began.

We could make a different chart for each channel — and in some cases, that might be the appropriate visualization. But for the sake of our tutorial, we can avoid creating eight different charts. Instead, we’ll add interactivity to our current chart so that we can use it to track each of these

Here’s the end product:

Add a filter control

See filter control documentation.

This pictograph (like an inverted pyramid) represents a filter control. See how the bar starts out large and gets smaller? That’s because it’s been filtered!

Just like a chart or a text box, you can draw a filter element onto your canvas:

Subtle difference — look in the upper right corner!

And, like any other component, you can configure the dimensions and metrics that the filter users. Note that the filter does its filtering on a dimension, not a metric — the metric is merely an aesthetic option. Configure your dimension like this:

By default, a filter control affects all charts on a page. You can change this by grouping the filter with the charts you want it to affect. See the documentation for details.

Now when you go to View mode, you can click on the filter control and choose what Channel Grouping you want to focus on:

Now we’ve got the same chart, but showing only organic traffic.

Connect your data [optional]

See the Google Analytics connector documentation.

I’ll assume you have access to a GA account. If not, that’s fine—you can skip ahead to “Share your report”. Let’s swap your data for the sample GA account we’ve been using.

Select the time series component and click “Data Source” in the sidebar.

This will allow you to select any data source you have. You can also create a new data source from within the report building interface:

To connect to Google Analytics, you’ll have to choose an Account, Property, and View to use. On this new screen, select “Google Analytics”.

Because we’ve chosen a Google Analytics data source, Data Studio already knows how to interpret the data. If you wanted to use another data source you might have to tell Data Studio what its schema is. I’ve written a guide to using Google Sheets as a data source that you might find useful.

When you’re satisfied with the list of dimensions and metrics that Data Studio is showing you, click “Add to Report”.

Your chart will now be using the data source you’ve created. No other configuration required!

Share your report

Sharing a Data Studio report is slightly more complicated than in Google Docs. The most important thing you need to understand is how permissions work. That blog post is a crash course on the subject. The choice you’ll be making is whether you’re letting readers see data using your credentials.

For more details about sharing, check out these three documentation pages:

  1. Sharing documentation
  2. Report sharing documentation
  3. Data source sharing documentation

What we learned

In this tutorial, we covered all of the basics of Data Studio. Here’s a quick summary of what we learned:

  • How to start using Data Studio.
  • How to create a new report.
  • How to create a time series.
  • How to choose dimensions and metrics.
  • How to expand the date range.
  • How to label a chart.
  • How to make a chart interactive.
  • How to connect a data source.

Whew — that’s quite a bit. I hope you feel a well-deserved sense of accomplishment. Nice work!

Do more, learn more

That’s it for our tutorial, but not for your Data Studio journey. Here are a few things to try with your newfound skills:

  • Add a second chart type.
  • Add more pages to your report.
  • Change the size of a page.
  • Add another data source.
  • Make a component report-level instead of page-level.

As you iterate, check out these resources — they all helped me as I learned Data Studio.

Happy visualizing!

Deep Learning Aims to Upgrade Your Smartphone’s Brain

The advertising world loves big, shiny, techy things. Agency and client ears perk right up when they hear about virtual reality kiosks, gadget-filled activations and holograms of dead rock stars. But then there are the tech innovations that sound a bit, or a lot, less sexy. Things like deep learning.

Deep learning is a subset of machine learning that essentially teaches computers to find patterns in sounds, images and other data. And while that may not seem like much fun to your average social marketer or copywriter, the tech giantsthe Facebooks, Apples, Googles, Netflixes, Microsofts and Baidus of the worldare investing massive sums of money in it. For instance, Google reportedly spent more than $500 million to acquire deep learning firm DeepMind in 2014. Baidu, the Chinese smartphone giant, runs deep learning and artificial intelligence-centric R&D centers in Silicon Valley and Beijing. Apple hires deep learning experts at fever pitch.

Why the frenzy? Deep learning technology lets you unlock your phone with your thumbprint. It enables Facebook and government agencies to identify your face in pictures. And it helps Siri and Alexa understand just what the hell you’re saying. Advertisers are experimenting with using deep learning to count how many passersby stare at billboards. The self-driving cars that we’re told are just around the corner rely on deep learning to avoid hitting other cars. Or people.

Continue reading at

A Week In Advertising’s Double-Edge Sword Of Gender Equality

The brand and ad work around International Women’s Day and an industry confronting its own demons.

The newest ad in The New York Times‘ award-winning “The Truth is Hard” campaign launched this week, featuring headlines from global women’s rights stories, and in its own description, “elevating women’s voices and exposing those who would otherwise silence them.” It’s another powerful spot from a pretty flawless campaign. And yet, it was created by agency Droga5, which in February was forced to fire its longtime chief creative officer Ted Royer, citing the need for a “safe and inclusive work environment.”

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Why have Facebook CPMs increased by 110%?

As it stands, Facebook’s ad supply is outweighing the demand, impacting advertising costs as well as user behaviour on the platform.

In other words, while ad spend is increasing rapidly (spend more than doubled in the first half of 2017 alone according to Adstage data), the number of ad impressions available remains level.  This means that advertisers are currently paying more for the same number of impressions.  So what’s actually been happening to prices on the platform?

Research by Adstage analysing more than 1.7 billion ad impressions across Facebook, Instagram and the Audience Network has shown the average cost per thousand (CPM) increased by 110% in 2017.  The average cost per click (CPC) also increased 109% to $0.54.

While CPMs and CPCs are on the rise, click-through rate (CTR) is flat, so it’s costing marketers more to maintain the same CTR month-on-month.

The main factors causing higher Facebook CPMs are:

  • The number of advertisers on Facebook, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, is growing rapidly based on Adstage data.
  • Advertisers are increasing social media budgets to remain competitive. In 2017, 73% of advertisers increased spend on Facebook according to a survey carried out by Hanapin Marketing.

Other factors which may be playing a part in boosting advertising prices:

  • The growing popularity of video ads combined with the fact that advertisers are willing to pay more for these types of ads. In fact, video is taking over across the board with IAB’s latest report showing online video spend has overtaken spend on banner ads for the first time!
  • Algorithm changes impacting user behaviour has led to people spending less time on the platform. 2017 saw a 5% drop in the number of time users spent on Facebook, according to Adstage data.
  • The first-ever decline in Facebook daily users of 1 million was seen last year in the US and Canada.

Adstage also revealed that the number of advertisers active on Facebook reached more than 6 million by the end of 2017, gaining two million within one year.  This growth is showing no signs of slowing, as this is only 9% of the 65 million businesses on Facebook.

Interestingly, it’s particularly smaller brands turning to the platform.  Perhaps because Facebook is so accessible, cost-effective and straightforward to set up.  In other words, many businesses will be able to use current assets on the platform and already be very familiar with it (seriously, who isn’t?).

Touching on the changes in user behaviour mentioned earlier, it’s also recently come to light that websites have seen a significant fall in traffic from Facebook.  Statista shared the below based on Shareaholics’ report:

Over the past ten years or more, Facebook has become one of the main sources of traffic for many websites and even been a bigger driver of traffic than Google for some, as pointed out by Statista.

However, Facebook referrals as a percentage of overall traffic fell 12.7% in 2017.  This trend is likely to be due to changes in the way users behave on the platform with them posting less as well as spending less time on Facebook.

This, together with the most recent news feed changes pushing content from friends and family, as opposed to brands and businesses, means the decline in Facebook traffic to sites may well continue.  Although, a decline for Facebook sees a rise for Pinterest and Instagram…watch this space!

So as Facebook’s ad auction remains very competitive, it’s suspected that more and more advertisers will turn to Instagram to drive conversions and even Messenger ads too.  Nevertheless, one thing’s for sure, the growing number of Facebook’s advertisers and ad costs is not slowing down yet!

Related posts:

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Google is selling Zagat to a restaurant review company

The search giant bought Zagat seven years ago for $151 million. Since then it’s integrated Zagat’s listings and ratings into Google Maps, while letting Zagat’s website and publications be outdone by other restaurant review companies. Now, Google thinks it has gotten all the use out of Zagat it can and is selling the brand to …

The search giant bought Zagat seven years ago for $151 million. Since then it’s integrated Zagat’s listings and ratings into Google Maps, while letting Zagat’s website and publications be outdone by other restaurant review companies. Now, Google thinks it has gotten all the use out of Zagat it can and is selling the brand to The Infatuation, a nine-year-old restaurant review company, reports the New York Times. In a statement, Jen Fitzpatrick, a vice president of product and engineering at Google, said:

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Using Google Lighthouse for page speed

Google wants a faster web, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it. They’ve recently made announcement after announcement that shows that improving the page speed of the web is one of their top priorities.

First, they’re making page speed a ranking factor. They also announced that they’re deploying a specialist team to accelerate the development of the WordPress ecosystem.

Even the sheer number of tools they’ve released to help improve page speed is impressive. There is the good old PageSpeed Insights, and more recently a feature for Winning On Mobile.

Finally, there is Lighthouse. Lighthouse is a tool that was primarily built to help support the development of Progressive Web Apps. But we’ve actually found it much more useful as a tool to help expand our Site Speed Audits.

Usually, a Site Speed Audit would be built around PageSpeed Insights. A classic Google tool, it’s been around for a little while. Combined with other tools like WebPageTest and GTmetrix, forms the basis of most Site Speed Audits.

However with PageSpeed Insights, while detailed, many suggestions will be impractical, if not impossible, for webmasters to implement.

For example, we’ve tried to optimise towards 100/100 on our own front page. But even though we stripped away basically everything, and hardcoded it in static HTML, we were still only able to achieve a score of 91.

This is because PageSpeed Insights is essentially flawed in the way that it works. Some of the metrics that it pulls out, especially for the Harvest homepage, are impossible to do.

Insights has marked us down for not leveraging browser caching. Seems legit. But when we look further into it, we can see that the resources that need caching are analytics tags or social resources. It wouldn’t make sense for us to cache these any longer.

Google Lighthouse

Lighthouse, on the other hand, is much more practical. Google has built it to re-enact real-world situations. It simulates visiting your site over a throttled 3G connection from a slightly underpowered device, to replicate real-life scenarios.

Lighthouse puts more emphasis on not just the site being fast but also feeling fast to the user.

And this is what makes them different. PageSpeed Insights is about the speed of your page, whereas Lighthouse is more about what users notice. Users aren’t going to notice the length of a cache life. All they care about is the fact that the page has loaded.

To that extent, Lighthouse has a bunch of completely different metrics to PageSpeed Insights. And it’s important to know which parts to pay attention to.

Lighthouse Metrics


Performance is your key group of metrics to pay attention to here. It’s split into Metrics, Opportunities and Diagnostics.


Lighthouse uses the following metrics to measure the performance of your mobile site:

  • First meaningful paint – this determines the length of time it takes for some substantial, noticeable content to appear on the screen. You should be aiming for a low score here.
  • First interactive – this shows when a page first becomes interactive, even a little bit. It’s judged by whether or not UI elements are interactive, and if the screen responds to user input at all.
  • Consistently interactive – this shows when a page is fully interactive.
  • Perceptual speed index – the speed index measures how quickly the contents of a page are populated, and visible to the user. Your target here is a loading time of under 1,250ms.
  • Estimated latency input – this metric shows how long it takes for your page to respond to user input. You should be looking to get this as low as possible. Google’s target is less than 50ms.
  • Critical requests chain – this network waterfall shows what resources are called on in order to render the page. You should prioritise asset loading in the critical rendering path to speed up the page.

Once you’ve mastered these metrics, you’re able to draw a lot more insight for your clients than you would do from the more basic PageSpeed Insights.


As well as scoring your site against the above metrics, Lighthouse also gives you a list of opportunities to make your site speed faster by optimising certain resources. These include render-blocking stylesheets, render-blocking scripts, resizing images and fixing offscreen images.


Diagnostics gives you a bit more information about how well your site performed. These audits can be quite useful, especially parts like Critical Request Chains. Other audits, like Minify Javascript and Optimise images, you can get from PageSpeed Insights.

Progressive Web App

The Progressive Web App section is obviously what Lighthouse is pushing you towards, but we don’t really use it.


This section covers how easy it is for people to use your site (or web app). It’s more of an extension of previous Google WebDev tools, e.g. measuring when buttons are too close together.

We’ve been big on accessibility for a little while, so seeing that Google also measures accessibility somewhat validates a drum that we’ve been banging for a few years now.

Best Practices

This section covers what Google refers to as ‘recommendations for modernizing your web app and avoiding performance pitfalls’. Some of the audits here are useful but don’t get too hung up on the score here.

Audits such as Uses HTTPS, and Uses HTTP/2 for its own resources should be easy to pass, but one of the audits in this section will always be failed, especially if you’re using WordPress, and that’s fine. This is the audit marked ‘Does not open external anchors using rel=”noopener”’.

This is to prevent Reverse Tabnabbing. WordPress adds these tags by default, and some webmasters have also adopted it. So don’t worry if you fail it.


The SEO section is a new feature and is still incredibly basic. It features 10 basic SEO audits, including whether the page has a title.

If you’re not scoring 100 on this section already, I’m worried for you.


Once you’ve got all your feedback, you should be looking to work these into various audits for your clients. Don’t simply focus on PageSpeed – even though it’s the primary reason you’re here. We use the accessibility part of Lighthouse to run UX audits, for example.

How to use Lighthouse

To work with Lighthouse, you simply need Chrome 60 or higher, and you can get it as an extension. For those of us who aren’t developers, this is the easiest way to get a solid Lighthouse report. All you have to do is press Generate Report!

Lighthouse can also be run as a node module if you’re into that kind of thing. You can find the instructions to do that here.

Another tool for the toolbox

We’re not saying that Lighthouse is the one site speed tool to use above all others. But it’s definitely a good step up from simply using PageSpeed Insights. Using Lighthouse, alongside tools like GTMetrix and WebPageTest, can really help you drive the most value for your clients.

Related posts:

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The Ad Club Vital Signs 2018 Health & Wellness Marketing Conference Reactions

Aetna, Shire, Cleveland Clinic, BCBSMA, and others took the stage at Vital Signs 2018 to share their insights on the latest in health & wellness marketing.
<p><strong>On Thursday, February 8, 2018, health and wellness marketing professionals gathered at the Google Cambridge Campus for the <a href=””>Vital Signs 2018</a> conference, presented by Boston-based, <a href=””>The Ad Club</a></strong><strong>.</strong>
<p>Speakers from Aetna, Shire, Blue Cross Blue Shield MA, Cleveland Clinic, and others, took the stage to dish their insights on the latest in marketing trends in the health and wellness space. <br>
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1519934537627/vitalsigns3.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”” src=”″></a><figcaption>The Ad Club Vital Sign 2018</figcaption></figure>
<p>We distilled the speakers’ messages into 4 key healthcare marketing takeaways.<br>
<h3>1. Frictionless Patient Experiences</h3>
<p>Increasingly, healthcare marketing professionals are looking toward the consumer retail and e-commerce spaces to understand <a href=”″ target=”_blank”>frictionless customer experiences</a>. The goal is to translate those trends into the health and wellness space, reducing friction in the patient journey.
<p>For instance, how does Amazon <span class=”TextRun SCXO16035830″>deliver information, change adherence and create trust</span>? How is <a href=”″ target=”_blank”>Amazon Go</a> taking friction out of the physical shopping experience? These are the questions panelists like STAT Senior Writer, <a href=”” title=”Bob Tedeschi”>Bob Tedeschi</a> and CMO, SVP of Product & Marketing at BCBSMA, <a href=”” title=”Kathy Klingler” rel=”bookmark”>Kathy Klingler</a> are asking—especially as <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Amazon itself targets healthcare</a>.
<p><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1519939647273/vitalsignspanel.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”” src=”″></a>
</p><figure data-type=”image”><figcaption>The panel discusses seamlessness in the health space</figcaption></figure>
<p>The first step in reducing friction in the patient journey is to understand where it begins. Cleveland Clinic Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Paul Matsen, notes,
</p><figure data-type=”quote”>
<blockquote>80% of all healthcare journeys start with search, and the landscape of search is changing.<br><br>

<p>Patients who have traditionally begun their journey by typing a question into Google, or WebMD, are now asking AI-powered voice-enabled devices in their homes. This is where the telemedicine revolution meets <a href=”” target=”_blank”>the rise of personal search</a>, thanks to Alexa and Siri.
<p>It’s crucial that healthcare marketers understand these new behaviors and design for these mediums in order to deliver timely and relevant information through the right channel at the right time.
<h4>Who’s doing it right currently?</h4>
<p>Of course, Amazon Echo or Google Home are blazing the path for consumer health with their voice assistants, and their applications range from in-home senior care assistance to post-surgery instructions and medication adherence reminders. Titans of healthcare tech are taking note, as companies like Orbita and Merck <a href=”” target=”_blank”>enter this space</a>.
<p>Additionally, <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Mitch Rothschild</a>, Founder & Chairman of Vitals, spoke about their <a href=”” target=”_blank”>SmartShopper</a> program and what they’re doing to eliminate headaches, specifically related to time and money, that a patient would normally encounter.
<p>Vitals SmartShopper provides a phone bank of personal assistants who will explain choices and out of pocket costs for users, encourage users (by paying them) to make lower cost choices on services within the provider network, schedule appointments, or even set up an Uber or Lyft.
<p>Speaking of Uber, they just launched <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Uber Health</a>—a B2B ride-hailing platform for healthcare. Uber Health will let clinics, hospitals, rehab centers and more easily assign rides for their patients and clients from a centralized dashboard – without requiring that the rider even have the Uber app or a smartphone.
<p>Talk about frictionless.
<h3>2. Lead With Authenticity</h3>
<p>Consumers are craving no-nonsense approaches, especially when it comes to their health needs. Every speaker at Vital Signs seemed to touch on the importance of transparency in marketing and authenticity in messaging.
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1519935762001/vicnoble.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”” src=”″></a><figcaption>Vic Noble, Global Head of Brand Value, Shire</figcaption></figure>
<p>Global Head of Brand Value at Shire, Vic Noble, pointed out a major shift in how brands, providers, and patients are communicating.
<p>Historically, in Pharma, marketing messaging for doctors and patients has been dramatically different, but Vic notes that we’re starting to see campaigns across the board speaking the same language, and using the same terms.
<p>Why is this important? More so than ever, the patient is in the driver seat. As medical futurist <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Robin Farmanfarmaian</a> puts it, “empowered by technology, the patient is CEO of their own health.”
<p>Patients are now co-creators of their healthcare outcomes. They want to have peer-to-peer conversations with their care-givers, they want clear-cut information, and they want attention every step of the way. At the end of the day, the acceleration of humanized healthcare comes down to building trust. And whether in a physician-to-patient or a marketer-to-consumer relationship, trust stems from authenticity.
<p>Navigating healthcare information throughout the medical system is a source of major anxiety for a large majority of people, and if you can trust the messages presented to you, the patient journey becomes a whole lot easier to handle.
<h3>3. It’s Time To Be Proactive</h3>
<p><span class=”NormalTextRun SCXO53238573″>Stan Nowak,</span> <span class=”NormalTextRun SCXO53238573″>VP of Consumer Engagement at Aetna</span> opened his talk on improving the patient journey by commenting on the “sick care” system.
</p><figure data-type=”quote”>
<blockquote><span class=”TextRun SCXO96289246″><span class=”NormalTextRun SCXO96289246″>”We should be investing in your health, with you, instead of paying for your sickness after you are diagnosed.”</span></span><br>

</blockquote></figure><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1519935265631/stan-nowak.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”” src=”″></a><figcaption>Stan Nowak, VP Consumer Engagement, Aetna with The Ad Club’s Kathy Kiely</figcaption></figure>
<p>Again, speaking to the importance of building trust in the patient-provider relationship, Stan argued that the best way to earn trust is to prevent a person from becoming a patient—taking a proactive rather than reactive approach.
<p>What’s the difference between proactive and reactive healthcare?
<p>Reactive healthcare is the norm. It’s when you take action and seek medical attention after noticing symptoms. A proactive approach to healthcare means taking consistent action before symptoms arise to prevent injury or disease. For companies shifting their focus to proactive healthcare, that means an output of education.
</p><figure data-type=”quote”>
<blockquote>”As we work toward effectively using the capital being invested in the new healthcare and digital health landscape, we’ll see patients becoming true consumers, with increased access and transparency on behalf of providers. The transition from sick care to well care and the empowerment of the healthcare patient-consumer is upon us.”<br><cite><a href=”” target=”_blank”>Techcrunch</a></cite>
<p>With more healthcare leaders prioritizing the prevention, not the treatment of disease, we can begin to move away from the sick care system. Healthcare marketing will start focusing on proactive health and wellness approaches, and people will be empowered to take back their health.<br>
<h3>4. Look To Data To Drive Outcomes</h3>
<p>Larry Mickelberg, Managing Director, Deloitte Digital, asks, “are we ready for the future of healthcare?”
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1519939461180/LarryMickelberg.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”″ src=”″></a><figcaption>Larry Mickelberg, Manager Director, Deloitte Digital</figcaption></figure>
<p>Larry argues that the future of health and wellness marketing must be “customer-centric over product-centric, value-based over sales-based, and driven by data not hunches.”
<p>Data-driven outcomes are not a new focus in our field. We started seeing this term pop up in the late 90’s as EHR adoption began gaining steam. But today, healthcare data is not only more powerful, but more accessible than ever.
<p>We’re receiving real-time healthcare diagnostics from our wearables. For example, your Apple Watch <a href=””>can flag diabetes predictors</a> with up to 80% accuracy. So as marketers, how we can utilize today’s powerful health data to better serve healthcare consumers?<br>
<p>We can design communication systems to close the gaps in the customer-care giver conversation and use real-time data analysis to provide customized care for every patient.
<p>The <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Dexcom G5 Mobile CGM System</a> is doing this right now, tracking and sharing real-time glucose data with loved ones and diabetes caregivers. What can we build next?
<h3>Want to see what we saw?</h3>
<p>Keep your finger on the pulse of healthcare marketing and dive into all the speaker presentation videos from The Ad Club’s Vital Signs 2018 conference now, <a href=””>right here</a>.
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1519935285640/vitalsigns4.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”” src=”″></a><figcaption>Cramer’s Julie Walker and Elana Snyder entering Vital Signs 2018</figcaption></figure><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1519935299622/vitalsigns1.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”” src=”″></a><figcaption>Aileen Wong and Julie Walker, Cramer – Vital Signs networking</figcaption></figure>
<p>Speakers included:
<li><a href=”” title=”Stuart Klein”>Stuart Klein</a>, Healthcare Practice Lead, IPG</li>
<li><a href=”” title=”Kathy Klingler” rel=”bookmark”>Kathy Klingler</a>, CMO, SVP Product & Marketing, Blue Cross Blue Shield MA</li>
<li><a href=”” title=”Brian Lefkowitz” rel=”bookmark”>Brian Lefkowitz</a>, EVP, Executive Creative Director, Digitas Health</li>
<li><a href=”” title=”Paul Matsen” rel=”bookmark”>Paul Matsen</a>, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Cleveland Clinic</li>
<li><a href=”” title=”Larry Mickelberg” rel=”bookmark”>Larry Mickelberg</a>, Managing Director, Deloitte Digital</li>
<li><a href=”” title=”Vic Noble” rel=”bookmark”>Vic Noble</a>, Global Head of Brand Value, Shire</li>
<li><a href=”” title=”Stan Nowak” rel=”bookmark”>Stan Nowak</a>, VP of Consumer Engagement, Aetna</li>
<li><a href=”” title=”Mitch Rothschild” rel=”bookmark”>Mitch Rothschild</a>, Founder & Chairman, Vitals</li>
<li><a href=”” title=”Bob Tedeschi” rel=”bookmark”>Bob Tedeschi</a>, Senior Writer, STAT</li>
<p>The health and wellness industry is transforming. Have questions about <a href=””>the new experiential era</a> of global healthcare marketing? <a href=””>Let’s chat.</a>

Luxury brands or luxury blands?

Something very disturbing happened last week. I was in a dentist’s waiting room flicking through a copy of Vogue. Without thinking I put it back on the table and started reading Golf Digest instead, but this type of behaviour is very unusual for me. So why did this happen?

The immediately obvious answer: Vogue is boring. Or, at least the first twenty pages are. As the clearly labelled tin suggests, Vogue simply presents the current prevailing styles and fashion. It is not a literary classic. But I am someone who loves fashion, and I am eminently stylish (winky face in tow). So Vogue, and for that matter any other vehicle for advertising luxury brands like it, should appeal to me. I therefore decided to undertake a little research project to explore this incident in more detail. Here’s what I found.

Question 1: why are luxury brand advertising campaigns (LBACs) currently so lifeless?

Same-same, but not different. LBACs have become indistinguishable and entirely interchangeable. Some of the most revered establishments – the Guccis, Pradas, and Diors – no longer have clearly identifiable brands. In fact, if you were to replace the logo on almost any one of the current LBACs with that of a competing brand, it would require a very discerning eye (perhaps the sort that gets paid to authenticate artwork) to notice that something was out of place.

The human clothes horse project. Models are simply being used by luxury brands to hang their products off. The mannequin model method (or as I like to call it, ‘mmm’) of advertising is monotonous.

The superiority complex. Luxury brands are, to my mind, overly fixated on a sterile suavity and sophistication they think their high-society clients embody. But – and it is an important ‘but’, much more so than those of our mannequin models – it must be remembered that consumers at the very top of the ‘spending’ spectrum (and all of us, for that matter) are human and subject to everything that comes with it. For richer or poorer, the consumer is an emotional beast.

The emotional void. And this is the point. LBACs are not establishing an emotional connection with the consumer. It seems to me that they are giving very little consideration to the power of meaningful messaging. There are some people that would find this argument astonishing. They would say to me that luxury brands trade only in the purely superficial and it is unrealistic for me to expect something deeper than that. But, those of us who know and love the industry understand that it can and should mean much more.

A useful illustration of this argument is Dior’s campaign with Jennifer Lawrence. Search ‘Jennifer Lawrence – Dior’ in Google Images and then search ‘Jennifer Lawrence – emotions’. The contrast is staggering. The latter shows her to be, as if we didn’t already know, an utterly compelling character stuffed to the hilt with emotional possibilities. But, she has been presented by Dior, as far as I can see, like all other models. She has been dulled to the extreme and drained of her clearly abundant feeling.

Question 2: how can LBACs reinvigorate themselves?

Break the… in fact, forget moulds entirely. When I say forget the mould, don’t forget your brand’s raison d’être or product. That would be disastrous. What I mean is that you should not take your lead from other sterile LBACs. This seems to be the convention at present. Of course you will be aware of others’ campaigns, but when you start the creative process, don’t let this be your benchmark. Dig deep – very deep if need be – for novel, different, inspiring ideas; wrapping the product in emotional values. If your own brand identity is clear and simple, the scope for creativity arising out of it should be limitless.

The hidden depths. Luxury brands are in the luxurious position, inevitably, of being able to work with celebrities who have done and achieved wonderful things in their careers. Jennifer Lawrence, to use the same example, is an Academy Award-winning actress and now counted amongst Time’s 100 most influential people. Aside from her beauty, these are obviously reasons why she was chosen by Dior, but does that richness of her character and her almost iconic status come out in the campaign? Sadly for me it does not. Luxury brands must do their utmost, without being too brazen, to make sure the depth of their campaigns are fully understood by the consumer.

Make me feel. “Emotion drives most, if not all, our decisions”¹. LBACs must therefore at least try to make an emotional connection with the consumer. This doesn’t require over-sentimentality. Far from it. To be effective it simply requires the campaign to convey something which is human and meaningful. And far from being something to fear, the genuine exploration of an emotional angle (albeit not a very British behaviour) is likely to open up even more creative opportunities.

One such luxury brand which has been successful in making an emotional connection is Patek Philippe. Their campaigns heavily feature the image of two generations within a family alongside the brand’s well-known tagline: “you never actually own a Patek Phillipe, you merely look after it for the next generation”. This is effective because:

  1. It is different to competing companies who invariably opt for the simple watch-wearing celebrity campaign
  2. It implies that owning this extraordinarily expensive watch is not about vanity; it is about heritage. You have become a custodian of a special tradition
  3. It resonates with people’s family values
  4. It still oozes the sophistication that is a prerequisite for all those who can afford a Patek Philippe

And so, to draw my thoughts to an end, it is obvious that luxury brands have to maintain extremely high levels of refinement and elegance in all that they say and do. That is the nature of their industry, but the basic principles of advertising apply universally. And the fundamental rule that at the heart of advertising lies the heart of the consumer is one that luxury brands must not forget.

That is not to say that the task of achieving (or balancing) both sophistication and a meaningful emotional connection is an easy one. Quite the opposite. It is an unenviable task. But it’s not an impossible one. And in the current saturated luxury marketplace it is a critical one. Not least because, if undertaken successfully, it will happily mark the end of the era for the luxury blands.

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[1] Scott Badbury, Nike and Starbucks. ‘What great brands do