Companies that offer their own in-house technology like to use this fact as a selling point. But does it matter to the client?

In digital marketing, it most definitely does. A marketing partner that offers its own technology can strip away layers of complexity from the process. It can do this by centralizing relevant information, analyzing it and optimizing spending decisions much faster than cookie-cutter systems can.

To understand how that works, let’s look at a quick thumbnail sketch of how the process typically proceeds.

Actionable data: the long and winding road

A company, let’s call it Acme, has a digital marketing approach with multiple analytics arms such as SEO, keywords, attribution, paid search and display and more. To manage all this, Acme signs up for Google Analytics. But Acme also runs accounts through many other platforms, such as DoubleClick Bid Manager, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and so on. This tech stack yields a number of separate reports in the form of spreadsheets or other documents.

Now someone has to combine all this information, from all these platforms, into one coherent set of charts (commonly known as a dashboard), to inform the digital strategy going forward. This dashboard may indicate that Facebook is outperforming Twitter, or Google yielded more searches than Bing, and so on.

What it won’t do is connect the dots on a buyer’s journey. As big and powerful as Google is, it has no idea what a customer or prospect is doing on Facebook — and vice versa. Comparing separate tactics on different channels isn’t meaningful.

What is meaningful is to view the entire buyer’s journey on one map, so you can see what paths to conversion look like.

So Acme needs to know how its tactics are performing in relation to each other. For that purpose, Acme may turn to a SaaS platform such as those offered by Power BI, DoubleClick, Google Analytics 360 or Omniture.

Still, none of these is a one-stop digital marketing platform. The bigger the buy, the more data there is to pull, organize, and analyze. Each of these analytics platforms charges extra for every additional layer of functionality.

That adds up to a lot of layers. Now Acme is dealing with an agency, and managing various digital marketing tools, and coordinating a tool to make sense of the data, and maybe even paying for a consultant or two to help them figure it all out.

Compare this with the ease and efficiency of dealing with one marketing partner; one that owns its technology and can collect all that information and then provide a coherent analysis for you.

Getting time on your side

Further, unless you are receiving data analysis in near-real time, the chances are you are missing out on considerable revenue.

In the above scenario, the analytics platform Acme is using may take up to a week to gather all its data. Acme may have to run a campaign for a month or more, then wait a week to see the dashboard, evaluate the results, make tweaks and plan the next campaign.

But when everything is working together under a single system the data reporting, decision making and positive results can be timely. If an ad on Spotify is not meeting the campaign’s KPIs, this will be seen right away and the ad can be adjusted accordingly. No more wasted weeks of ad spend.

Data, your way

Finally, a single system can deliver your data in the precise form that best suits your goals.

When you license off-the-shelf software, you generally have to use it the way it is (or pay for expensive and time-consuming customization). The issue is that even companies in the same vertical can have very different conversion windows, target demographics and goals. A dashboard setup that shows the perfect view of data for one company may be completely irrelevant for another organization.

By comparison, when your marketing partner has built and owns the software it uses, it can be responsive. If a client wants a 35-day conversion window, that agency can deliver. If the client wants to track calls for 10 minutes after a click, or 20 minutes, it can adjust the tracking codes. If the client wants to modify attribution for Facebook versus AdWords, it can customize the software accordingly.

The truth behind ad tech today is this: Acme’s campaigns, and yours, can be run better than they are now. You don’t have to settle for what comes out of the package. Real-time, customized, cost-effective reporting will make your campaigns more efficient, and make you more money.

Joel Citron is director of Advertising Technologies at Ai Media Group, a New York City-based media company that specializes in defining, managing and executing online marketing strategies.