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Excel Gets Real-time With Performance Analysis

Written by: Jonathan Sussman, Director, Product Management

While Excel remains the number one analytics tool in digital advertising today, it was never designed for managing ad campaigns. No one rides a motorcycle at the Grand Prix – why continue to use outdated tools to analyze your ad campaigns? At Nanigans, we’ve had many prospective clients come to us seeking a business intelligence solution tailored for campaign insights and optimization; one that possesses the power of pivot tables but also allows seamless campaign management and adjustment.  In response we’ve developed Performance Analysis, a robust suite of features that our customers spend roughly 50% of their Ad Engine time using.

As we engineered Performance Analysis, here are the five Excel pain points that we set out to solve:

  • Discontinuity: Excel is offline, which means campaign adjustments are disconnected from data analysis.
  • Lack of shareability: Emailing reports and maintaining version control across an organization has become a headache.
  • File size restrictions: Spreadsheets have limitations to the data they can handle, and can max out email inbox capacity.
  • Data staleness: The time lag between export, analysis and taking action means missed opportunities.
  • High margin of error: Exporting and importing data leads to distraction and mistakes. Remaining in the context of one interface is key.

Because Excel is so widely used by marketers across digital advertising, we designed Performance Analysis to share many of its most useful features, but added a number of important capabilities that make it a lot more powerful. Here are just a few.

Level Up

Excel’s pivot tables allow users to ‘group by’ any attribute in a data set and drill down to analyze deeper sets of data. Performance Analysis has a similar design, but makes constructing a multi-tiered reporting view seamless. Any set of attributes (targeting, creative elements, dates, etc.) can be ‘grouped by.’ For more granular analysis, the user can drag and drop the order of how attributes should appear. Not to brag, but configuring a view with 5+ nested levels can be instantaneous.

Save Time

Performance Analysis offers advanced filtering capabilities on both attributes and metrics. For example, a campaign manager looking to identify what creative and audiences are driving the lowest Cost Per Action (CPA) over the past week might not care about the ads that have barely spent or have only been running for 1-2 days. In this scenario, setting a filter to exclude ads that were created in the past 2 days and to only show ads with over $100 of ad spend would allow the user to identify the ads with the best performing creative and targeting combinations by sorting the CPA metric in ascending order. This is a simple example, but many Nanigans clients apply over five filters at a time when analyzing campaigns.

Performance Analysis Filters

Another time-saving feature in Performance Analysis is Custom Formulas, which allows Ad Engine users to build a formula, define the operators required to make the calculation, name the custom metric and save it for future use – all within one screen. We have seen clients build simple formulas such as Registration Events/Purchase Events, and advanced statistics formulas such as CTR confidence levels.

Share Views

When managing and sharing reports within ad operations, it’s common for teams to attempt to email massive files back and forth that often can’t be sent due to file size restrictions from the email server (not to mention most inboxes can only handle a few GBs of storage). In other scenarios where reports are stored on a shared drive, version control becomes an issue. Performance Analysis bypasses all the madness, allowing saved view sharing with any team member who is logged in to Ad Engine.

Nanigans Performance Analysis screenshot

Take Immediate Action

Making mid-campaign optimizations while running thousands and thousands of ads can be like jumping from a moving train onto the roof of a moving car (read: risky). The Performance Analysis reporting interface allows instant optimization actions like pausing down, cloning an ad or raising a bid price on thousands of ads at a time — with only a couple clicks. Facebook is a complex environment where market dynamics are constantly shifting bid prices. It’s essential that campaign managers have access to real time data. Exporting to Excel, analyzing the data ad-by-ad and then making optimizations causes recency lags that can negatively impact performance – and nobody’s got time for that.

Join Us

We’ve gotten great feedback from our users about Performance Analysis, but we’ll let the data speak for itself. As you can see, the rate of adoption has been astonishing and continues to grow each month.

Performance Analysis as a Percent of Ad Engine Events Since Launch


If a real-time, robust pivot table with the workflow to make instant campaign adjustments sounds like a game changer, get in touch with us.

Contact Us Today



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