A brief summary of "Digital Marketing Analytics: In Theory And In Practice" by Kevin Hartman, Google's Director of Analytics

"The power of Digital Marketing Analytics is that it provides an insightful approach to the art of analytics while demystifying its science."

How would Kevin Hartman, the guru of Google's marketing describe Digital Marketing Analytics? His words verbatim: it's “the most vibrant and undiluted blend of art and science.”

Truly, a culmination of practical application of Data Analysis and the art of communication.

Despite “the science of Digital Marketing Analytics presents as verbose and academic,” for a Digital Marketer, science can’t exist in a vacuum.

It's also true that “a purely artistic display of analytics output suggests the same lack of substance as a charlatan’s medicine show". Such an endeavor as Digital Marketing draws from both logical and creative hemispheres.

Hartman defines the reach of Digital Marketing Analytics as a “fundamental [and] inescapable permanent cornerstone of modern business that effects the lives of Analytics professionals and consumers in equal measure.” It's an omnipresent entity that influences daily decision-making.

In fact, "you [may] know nothing about Digital Marketing Analytics, [but] Digital Marketing Analytics knows plenty about you.” It may not yet be the all-seeing and all-knowing eye inside your device — but it's a field of ever-growing potency, interest and potential income.


Kevin Hartman has forged Google’s Digital Marketing Department through strategic partnerships and mergers. There’s probably no better candidate to teach the complexities of Marketing on the World Wide Web.

During Hartman’s tenure at Google, he fostered partnerships that created:

  • Google Analytics, a tool that tracks and reports web traffic;
  • Google Consumer Surveys, a cloud-nested market research tool;
  • Google Database Search, a search engine for open data;
  • Google Optimize, a litmus test for various combinations of web content;
  • Google Sheets, a cloud-hosted spreadsheet;
  • Google Slides, a cloud presentation platform;
  • Google Trends, an index of search queries.

A Byte of History

Hartman asserts that Digital Marketing is the culmination of millennia of data collection, not merely something that came about with the advent of the computer and flourished during the Dot Com Bubble.

Much like Astrology laid the ground for modern scientific methods and Aristotle holds the underpinnings of contemporary reasoning, ancient man, with his maps of Egypt and surveys of the skies — form the supporting pillars of current methods of Digital Marketing Analytics.

In fact, Hartman believes that the art and science of Digital Marketing Analytics originated over 7,000 years ago with “tables of the positions of stars and celestial bodies.”

But, the contemporary field of Digital Marketing Analytics emerged in 1994. The impetus: AT&T had purchased the first piece of marketing real estate, a banner ad.

As recounted by Hartman, this “haphazard-looking array of psychedelic colors against a black background changed the way brands use the web.

The ad was placed on and received a remarkable 44% click-through-rate. Considering that today’s ads only garnish a 0.05% of web traffic clicks, this statistic is phenomenal!

Moving onward. The mid 2000s created a paradigm shift that continues to this day, online marketing became the norm. Here's a few examples from page 42 of Hartman's book:

  • Since the mid 2000's, the number of YouTube channels with over a billion views has grown 5 times over;
  • Currently, over half of shoppers say that online videos have influenced them to purchase products;
  • Over 90% of people say they discover new products on YouTube.

In addition, communication outlets that predominantly relied on television for income have either shifted to online, or are losing their audiences aged below 50. In fact, television companies are “scrambling to reimagine the way they deliver content.”

However, according to Hartman, some have arrived at a solution: Over-The-Top content (OTT). Content that flows directly to viewers over the Internet. These streams bypass cable and satellite. A place where only digital marketing may be embedded.

What does all this mean?

Digital Marketing Analytics has become an essential aspect of Western culture - it will continue to evolve and provide income for millions of bright minds.


As citizens of the World Wide Web, daily, we generate an incredible amount of data — Big Data — with baseline numbers in the billions. These huge data-sets are the Digital Marketing Analyst's playground.

And conversely, “the explosion of digital data has been a catalyst for innovation.” It’s undeniable that “the growth of technologies to manage [Big] Data and the analytics tools to make sense of [it] have been a critical development for the analyst.”

In fact, it’s a naturally occurring conflation: as data increases, the ability to comprehend and utilize it in a practical manner does too.


Personalization is the answer. 

Despite the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) requiring advertisers to clearly identify each party that may collect, use or receive data, and a general crack-down on collecting some types of private information — data collection will continue to be part-and-parcel of Digital Marketing Analytics, as it allows for a tailor-made online experience.

Hands-down, personalized ads have been proven to be a more effective marketing tool than banners or other traditional advertising. In the hierarchy of data, information from Uniquely Identified Users is most valued: social media posts and location histories are the field’s gold.

Or, as Hartman asserts, “the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.”

Most notably, Target, the shopping super-center, deploys this technique to detect if a female shopper is pregnant and targets them with specialized advertising.

According to Hartman, a Programmer named Lou Montulli invented Digital Cookies, files that rest in browser’s cache. Through these strings of code, websites learn about a shopper’s behavior and detect personality attributes. This is, partly, the method used to arrive at uniquely identified user advertising.


The next big force for change, among Digital Marketing Analysts, will be Machine Learning.

In fact, Machine Learning can decipher patterns in humanly insurmountable data sets using regression models and clustering techniques, something indispensable to the Data Analyst.


Do you recall Infomercials, those long-winded late night ads for seemingly useless products?

Well, according to Hartman, the forces marketed these made one big mistake: opacity. 

Digital Marketers can achieve marketing objectives easier by providing clarity about how a product is used or what need it fulfills.

It’s true, clarity in Marketing is a virtue!

Page 134 provides this example, a picture of a woman using the Navage Nasal Irrigation System. Above the picture, a caption reads, “I have only one question about the Navage nose cleaning machine: why?”

Why indeed.


All-in-all, Digital Marketing Analytics in Theory and Practice is an enthralling read. It covers a wide variety of topics, including such highlights as a visual representation of data, best shown in Beck’s map example.

As explained by Hartman, Henry Beck’s map of the London Underground “describes a complex system simply and beautifully [...] Beck’s map doesn’t show the positions of the Underground stations perfectly. It stood as a testament that images can serve a purpose without exacting accuracy.”

Also, the book outlines the McCandles Method, 5 step process for presenting data stories. It’s based on the successful way in which David McCandles demonstrated data visualizations.

To sum up, Mike Clarke, Facebook’s Director of Research, showered Digital Marketing Analytics in Theory and Practice with accolades:

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