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Intro to Bubble Charts by BECKON

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Learn the basics of bubble charts and how they can help your team answer complex marketing questions.

What can bubble charts do for you? Well, for starters, they show the relationship between up to four categories or dimensions in a single chart. Plus, they’re statistically powerful, use colors, sizes and patterns for easy insight, and give a great sense of correlations between outcomes.

Published in: Data & Analytics
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Intro to Bubble Charts by BECKON

  1. 1. INTRO TO BUBBLE CHARTS
  2. 2. 1 As we increase social spend, what happens to downloads and revenue? How does search affect revenue and social volume across brands? What messaging, across all channels, is resonating most with our target audience? What kind of chart should you use to get answers to critical business questions like these? What happened to CPM when we turned on programmatic in those two markets? Which of our agencies delivers the most net new leads and social buzz per dollar we pay them in fees?
  3. 3. 2 Bubble charts are ideal for understanding the relationship between three categories or dimensions. They’re a close cousin of the scatter plot, but where a scatter plot maxes out at two dimensions (whatever is on the X-axis and the Y-axis), a bubble chart shows three—the size of the bubble being the third value. And—bonus!—we can illuminate a fourth category or dimension by using bubbles of different colors. A bubble chart • Are visually cheerful • Encourage curiosity about the data • Use easy-to-understand shapes, colors, sizes and patterns to enable insight • Are statistically powerful • Show relationships between outcomes • Give a good sense of correlations, both positive and negative We love bubble charts. Why? Well, because they:
  4. 4. 3 Let’s walk through a hypothetical example. Imagine we’re marketers at a media and entertainment company. We spend a significant amount of our marketing budget on search advertising and social media, with the goal of persuading folks to go to the movies, the success of which is measured in revenue. Going in, we’re pretty sure search volume and social conversation volume have an impact on revenue— we certainly hope so! But we’d like to more fully understand the relationship. We also have anecdotal evidence that different movie genres respond differently in terms of search and social—we’d like to know more about this as well. We’ll use a bubble chart to plot search volume against revenue, and show conversation volume as a third factor. Plus, we’ll use differently colored bubbles to represent different movie genres for added context. Let’s flow our data into a bubble chart and see what we can see! Here are the measurable items in question: • Search volume • Social conversation volume • Revenue How to read a bubble chart
  5. 5. HOW DOES SEARCH AFFECT REVENUE AND SOCIAL CONVERSION VOLUME BY MOVIE GENRE? BOXOFFICEDAILYREVENUE GOOGLE SEARCH INDEX $2BN $0.00 0 15K10K5K R2 = 0.92 ALL $4BN $6BN $8BN $10BN $12BN 4 To start, we can see that search volume is on one axis and revenue is on the other. We see some bubbles are bigger than others, and they’re sporting a lovely color palette. Also, some bubbles are clustered together, some are hugging the diagonal line that rises from left to right, and some are hanging out on their own. At the bottom left of the line we see a number: R2 = .92
  6. 6. HOW DOES SEARCH AFFECT REVENUE AND SOCIAL CONVERSION VOLUME BY MOVIE GENRE? BOXOFFICEDAILYREVENUE GOOGLE SEARCH INDEX $2BN $0.00 0 15K10K5K R2 = 0.92 ALL $4BN $6BN $8BN $10BN $12BN 5 Each bubble is a different movie. A bubble’s position on the X-axis shows how much revenue it pulled in. Its position on the Y-axis indicates search volume. The size of each bubble corresponds to social conversation volume; bigger means more volume. And the different colors of the bubbles delineate different genres. What is the chart showing us?
  7. 7. HOW DOES SEARCH AFFECT REVENUE AND SOCIAL CONVERSION VOLUME BY MOVIE GENRE? BOXOFFICEDAILYREVENUE GOOGLE SEARCH INDEX $2BN $0.00 0 15K10K5K R2 = 0.92 ALL $4BN $6BN $8BN $10BN $12BN 6 There’s also a line rising from left to right. The line and the label R2 = .92 at the lower left—called the R-squared number—from the statistical backbone of the chart. • The line—called a trend line or linear regression line—represents an equation describing the best-fitting straight line through the various X, Y points (that is, the center of each bubble). • The R-squared number, simply put, is a measure of how tightly the bubbles cluster along the line. R2 values are always between 0 and 1 and are read as a percent, so the range is always 0% to 100%.
  8. 8. HOW DOES SEARCH AFFECT REVENUE AND SOCIAL CONVERSION VOLUME BY MOVIE GENRE? BOXOFFICEDAILYREVENUE GOOGLE SEARCH INDEX $2BN $0.00 0 15K10K5K R2 = 0.92 ALL $4BN $6BN $8BN $10BN $12BN 7 Ok, so back to our example. Looking at this chart, we can say that there is a strong correlation between search volume and revenue. Further, we can say that different movie genres exhibit correlation nuances— this can be seen by how closely (or not) bubbles of each color hug the trend line. In fact, we can say that 92 of the time there is a correlation between search and revenue, and that some genres show better correlation than others. This is great! We definitely have an argument for our search budget!
  9. 9. 8 With a solid answer to our initial question in hand, we can dig deeper: • For the movie genres that are not as closely correlated, is there a marketing tactic other than search that is more closely correlated to revenue? • How can we reallocate search spend to maximize potential revenue? • How does the correlation between search and revenue change if we look only at genres with high (or low) conversation volume? • There are some “outliers” with big revenue. What useful info can we learn about those? • What are some other variables we might want to investigate for correlations? Are my results different by age groups? By gender? By region? These follow-on questions spring from the example we used here of a media and entertainment company, but you can easily translate them into questions that are critical for your own business. The takeaway is this: By starting with a straightforward question, usually stemming from “hunches” that you already you have, it is easy to organize your thinking about what to explore next, how to prioritize, and get statistically relevant insight. Ideas for further exploration
  10. 10. 9 Always keep in mind that relationships between variables is not the same as one variable causing the other variable. That’s okay, though—confirming a relationship (or the absence of a relationship) is in itself super useful. Second, R-squared analysis, like all statistics, needs to be used carefully. And there are caveats. For example, we’ve been looking at a linear trend line here, but certain data may exhibit characteristics that call for a different kind of trend line. Linear trend lines will get you pretty far, just know that there are other kinds, too. Finally, keep it simple. Gleaning just one insightful correlation that you can act on can deliver enormous value in terms of how you allocate your budget, how you optimize your marketing tactics and how well you understand your customers. Correlation is not causation (and other tips)
  11. 11. LOOKING TO IMPROVE TRANSPARENCY AND ROI IN YOUR AGENCY PARTNERSHIPS? Get in touch at hello@beckon.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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