A real and significant challenge facing marketers today is the absolute deluge of data that’s coming from numerous digital marketing channels with no end in sight. The sheer volume of data being collected has the potential to help marketers better understand their customers and how to improve and optimize how they engage with them. This leaves marketers and their data analysts, who need to be able to take action “now” on what matters most, in a difficult position. Many emerging trends can go unnoticed and develop into larger issues for your business by the time they are identified, assuming they are uncovered at all. Being able to uncover from this deluge of data the critical insights that are most relevant to increasing conversion can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

This marketing riddle I heard recently at a conference might help illustrate the point:

What do these four things have in common?

  • A $3 million dollar order
  • 16,000 zero-dollar orders
  • An aggressive bot that’s hitting your Web properties from a company in Europe
  • A 5,000 percent, single-day increase in traffic from a city in France

Any guesses? (Hint: It’s something marketers won’t want to hear.) They’re all things our customers were only able to identify after they’d already become issues weeks or months earlier. It was way too late for them to take action because the problems were missed in the flood of data. I wonder how many more critical insights were simply missed altogether.

Today’s marketers are being asked to leverage data to identify key insights in real time—say, a 5,000 percent spike in traffic—and then be able to take the action needed to understand and hopefully respond to maximize results. That’s one of the reasons I am really excited about our Fall 2013 Adobe Analytics release—a major update to Adobe Analytics that will help marketers and analysts gain insights into data quickly so they can act more precisely, being guided by their data. One of the updates our beta customers loved is Anomaly Detection, a statistically based predictive analytics capability that enables marketers and analysts to uncover anomalies that have occurred in their data.

Really, we see anomaly detection as a new “starting point” for analysis, by helping marketers and analysts unearth spikes and dips that fall outside the historical norms in the range of predicted results. Hopefully, that 5,000 percent spike won’t go unnoticed for weeks or months—because it’s clearly not normal. However, other anomalies that could have a significant effect on your business can easily be uncovered and then acted upon with this new capability.

Here’s a quick use case for a retailer. A common problem retailers face with online sales is pricing issues. If someone misses a zero, a $100 product may suddenly start selling like hotcakes at $10 each and end up sold out. That’s an insight you need to know about as soon as possible, and Anomaly Detection is designed to help marketers discover these key insights quickly so they have time to act. You don’t want to find out days later that you sold out of a product and your margins are terrible.

A critical aspect of our Fall 2013 Analytics release is speed.

Marketers need real-time data at their fingertips to capitalize on trends when they happen. For publishers, real-time data allows marketers to gauge how content is performing and being consumed so they can move high-performing stories to the most prominent positions on their Web properties, as often as many times per hour. In the case of retailers, they might want to know if a daily deal is performing or if sales items are moving in order to make adjustments and make better shipment decisions.

We are pleased to have significant updates to our Advanced Real-Time Reports, which provides just that: a gauge for marketers to see how their business is performing in real time. It’s all about providing a dashboard of insights that will help you capitalize on emerging trends that automatically refreshes every 3 to 5 seconds with one minute granularity views into the data, ranging over 15 min., 30 min., 1 hour, and 2 hour time periods. My colleague Ben Gaines wrote and excellent article on how to use the new real-time reports in Adobe Analytics.

Video and mobile are two hot areas for marketers today, and we have some significant upgrades in this release. For instance, Adobe’s Mobile Analytics now offers a greater depth of key mobile insights. One line of code in your mobile app using our new mobile SDK will get you a host of new mobile app lifecycle metrics including app store data, GPS location data, and events that influence customer lifetime value such as purchases and social sharing. Our internal data suggests that mobile users are spending the vast majority of their time in apps with smartphones and tables. Marketers need to understand not only how many people are using their apps and what version they are on, but how are they engaging with them and how they can improve the experience and even personalize it. Our new mobile analytics gives marketers a clear picture of how their apps are performing and what marketers can do to optimize and personalize engagement.

With this release, marketers can now also serve location-specific content to customers, analyze in-app conversion rates, and see how many customers buy after first-time viewing.

Upgraded Video Analytics Measurement is another capability that is going to help businesses and publishers understand the true impact of video on their business. The upgrade provides integrated video ad measurement and gives marketers quick snapshots of video “heart beats” every 10 seconds, offering a real-time window into video engagement and the insights needed to optimize ad-load. Using the new video metrics, for instance, marketers will see the impact of ad placement in the video stream, which will inform the ideal time and length for ads. My colleague Scott Smith wrote an interesting blog on this: “Adobe Video Analytics Gets a Powerful Upgrade.”

One other notable upgrade is the option to load a simplified menu. This little gem is going to make it much easier for marketers to find the reports and insights they are looking. Our customer, Tim Elliston, shared his thoughts on our Adobe Analytics Fall 2013 release including the benefits of a simplified menu, here.

Across the board, these upgrades are about serving marketers and analysts and giving them the capabilities they need to manage the deluge of data quickly, find insights, and drive action. We know how fast businesses move online these days. That speed requires an analytics solution that can keep up.