Ryan Durosky is the Director Market Research and Analytics at Lifescript, a website dedicated to sharing information on women’s health and healthy living (despite his affinity for candy corn and Grape Fanta). Ryan is responsible for developing Lifescript’s digital measurement strategy for pharma clients, and answered Level’s questions about his day-to-day work, the tools he uses and more.
What do you do?
I am the Director of Research and Analytics at Lifescript (Lifescript.com), where I’m responsible for developing the company’s strategic and tactical approach to digital measurement. As a publisher, all of our clients are agencies and advertisers who buy digital display and video advertising, as well as email sponsorships. As a health and lifestyle site, we work primarily on client campaigns within the pharmaceutical and CPG verticals. My role is 100% dedicated to pharma campaigns and my specific responsibilities are as follows:
- Work directly with 3rd party research vendors during the RFP process to determine feasibility, pricing, methodology and timing for all campaign research. In the pharma vertical these vendors include Crossix, Symphony, and IMS whenever we need to connect a consumer’s online exposure to advertising to an actual prescription. For attitudinal research, vendors include Millward Brown Digital, Nielsen, and comScore.
- Analyze results from 3rd party campaign research to gain insight into performance and develop actionable recommendations for optimization.
- Develop ROI and prescription lift projections using various sources for those campaigns requiring a guaranteed performance outcome.
- Provide custom measurement strategies for client proposals which outline digital media objectives, KPIs and benchmarks/goals.
- Work with the internal Business Intelligence team to maintain quality standards for all 1st party data that is collected and shared through internal data cube.
- Use the DMP to create audiences/segments for those campaigns requiring user targeting, retargeting or 3rd party data layers. The DMP is also where I monitor campaign performance and use audience attributes to drive optimizations.
- Present campaign results and measurement plans to clients along with sales team. This often requires extensive, domestic travel.
What tools/platforms do you use every day?
On a day-to-day basis, I use the full MS product suite (Outlook, Excel, Word and PowerPoint). These are standard for any position in digital media. I also use comScore, DFA (DART for Advertisers), DFP (DART for Publishers), Google Analytics and our DMP (Lotame). There are quite a few technical tools used for data management within the industry depending on your role. I work on the media/campaign analytics side which is the strategic, client-facing side of digital analytics. Alternatively, the advanced analytics side is typically non-client facing and much more aligned with complex data modeling and database structuring using languages, like Python or SQL, and programs like SaaS.
At Lifescript, we have a separate BI department that is responsible for collecting, organizing and managing our datafeeds through a SQL database. Data is connected to an Excel-based data cube so that I can easily and quickly filter and manipulate multiple metrics and dimensions.
What is the most important technical skill to do your job well?
For me, the most important skill is having a strong command of Excel and utilizing its functions. Being able to navigate digital audience platforms like a DMP and an ad server is also crucial to my success in this role.
What is the most important “soft” skill?
Outside of the standard soft skills, like being organized and properly managing expectations, understanding your audience is extremely important. Campaign analytics often requires you to interact with many different people across many different disciplines. Outside of the analytics discipline, there are few people who will understand the complexities and intricacies behind your day-to-day work. Whether you are in an internal meeting, a client meeting, presenting an analysis or speaking with those you manage, you have to be able to translate your expertise in a way that makes sense to non-technical colleagues. Taking a story-telling approach is often the most effective way for clients to understand your work.
It’s also extremely important to know how to navigate through ‘office politics’. While this is certainly not a requirement, you should align with effective leadership and colleagues who share common long-term, professional goals. This becomes increasingly valuable as you develop more experience and take on more responsibilities.
Keep in mind that for a lot of professionals, these soft skills are challenging and often improve over time as you gain more experience. There are certainly people who have a natural ability to excel quickly, but I’ve found this to be less true among those in the digital analytics profession.
What is your background? How did you get into analytics?
I originally wanted to major in finance or economics when I went to college. My first two years were spent studying Liberal Arts, and my last two years were spent studying business. After my first semester in business school, I realized that finance was not something I was interested in pursuing. However, I found that marketing classes often combined the more creative aspects I liked about liberal arts with the quantitative aspects of finance/economics but with significantly less rigor around mathematics and modeling. So, I ended up graduating with a marketing degree. After working at a small, boutique market research firm where I also interned, someone from a media agency actually picked up my resume from an online job board. That was my first job exposure to digital analytics and I’ve worked within that discipline ever since and I haven’t looked back.
What advice do you have for people who are interested in doing the kind of work you do?
In whatever kind of work you do, always strive to be responsible and reliable. If you find this too challenging you are probably unhappy; go do something else.