A new formula has been engineered by ESPN statisticians to rate NFL quarterbacks on far more qualifiers than just pass completion.  The Total Quarterback Rating (Total QBR) system identifies contributions and negative plays made by the quarterbacks and quantifies them based on how they affect the team’s performance.  Developing an advanced method of measuring performance is music to a data-driven marketer’s (and fantasy football participant’s) ears.

The use of advanced analytics in sports is not a new concept.  Statistics have been the backbone for competition since a stick first struck a ball.  What started with counting wins and losses has developed into a billion dollar industry, including quantitative departments occupying front offices for professional organizations for football, baseball, basketball and hockey.  Sports management is obviously seeing the value in not only collecting the data, but also in using it to establish performance benchmarks.

Developing successful strategies for digital marketing efforts uses the same methodologies that motivated ESPN to create a Production Analytics team in 2010.  Unlike the NFL Passer Rating, the Total QBR uses all aspects of the game to determine the actual contribution of quarterback plays.  The factors are seemingly endless – time in the pocket, how many yards to the end zone after the catch, what they do with their arms and feet, drawing or committing penalties, and on, and on, and on.

Similarly, with each search and click performed online, data-driven marketers collect another piece of the data puzzle.  Actually, digital marketing professionals need to have far wider peripheral vision than even a quarterback with a Total QB rating of a perfect 158.3 has.  At least the QB stats are limited to what is happening on the field.  Marketers don’t have that luxury.  Before abandoning campaign tactics that seem to be losing yards, we need to examine external factors that may be affecting performance and determine if the issues are temporary setbacks or are part of an identifiable trend that requires immediate action.  Depending on the business, product or service we are promoting, the issues that data-driven marketers may consider contributing factors are truly infinite – changes in search and consumer behavior, search engine algorithms, consumer research and reviews, geo-targeting, demand, gas prices, economic downturns, dieting trends, weather patterns, and on and on and on.

The only way to optimize a campaign effectively is to establish key performance indicators at the outset.  The digital marketing ‘click’ is akin to the quarterback contribution.  It’s not enough that the pass was made or the site link was clicked.  What matters is how the action affected the performance.  The valuation of the click also varies.  After the selecting the site link, did the visitor spend significant time on the landing page?  Did they go to any other pages in the site?  How many pages?  What, if any, conversions did the visitor perform?  The visitor activity allows data-driven marketers to evaluate and measure the efficiency of the initial messaging and search terms that brought their target audience to the site.

How we leverage that data is what separates the proverbial men from the boys.  Using the Total QBR perspective provides a fresh take on the importance of using data to effectively establish a digital marketing system for measuring performance.  Look at all of the available data and establish systems of measurement to understand the true value of performance.