Media company generates insights faster with Azure Synapse Analytics

Technical Story

JOT Internet Media (JOT) manages and monitors digital marketing campaign analysis for its clients on a vast scale. The company manages more than 60,000 accounts, which together account for 1.6 million campaigns running in over 79 countries and regions and 16 languages.

The number of keywords associated with these campaigns is equally vast. Today JOT monitors more than 8.6 billion keywords from various social media platforms, such as Google Ads and Facebook. This includes over 460 gigabytes (GB) of new data (stored in 19 Azure blobs) that JOT processes each day.

It was this rapidly increasing amount of new data that ultimately led the company to consider Azure Synapse Analytics.

Business priorities and challenges

JOT faced three challenges that are core to the business—data throughput, processing time, and quality insights. The company’s original on-premises infrastructure (two SQL Server instances and an Excel front end) was impacting all three criteria. Furthermore, the trajectory of the business meant that daily data volumes would continue to grow, not to mention the longer-term challenge of storage and maintaining availability of the vast store of historical data.

“It was clear that we needed to find another solution if we wanted to manage for the future,” explains Fernando Perales, Head of Research at JOT.

More capacity and flexibility

To address its capacity issues, JOT analyzed several competitive cloud solutions. “None offered the combination of throughput, processing power, and analytical quality of Synapse Analytics,” says Perales. “Plus, since we were already using SQL Server on-premises, moving to Synapse Analytics was a natural transition.”

As Elias Badenes, JOT Media Big Data Lead, adds, “We saw that Azure Synapse Analytics had both the capacity and tools to help us implement the calculations and KPIs we needed.”

The JOT team was immediately impressed with the flexibility of the solution. “Because we only pay for what we need, we were able to plan our architecture without having to commit right away to those projected needs,” Perales notes. “This allowed us to build our ideal architecture, then fine-tune the system as we went along to achieve the best balance of efficiency and cost.”

The team started with the migration of over 7 terabytes (TB) of historical data stored on-premises to Azure Synapse Analytics. Ongoing campaign statistics are loaded into Azure Synapse Analytics, which generates KPIs based on recommendations from JOT. Azure Data Factory is used to automate all processes. This includes importing and historicizing of data using PolyBase technology, in addition to execution of all procedures necessary for generating reports.

The Azure Synapse Analytics architecture used by JOT to download digital campaign data and to analyze for campaign optimization. 

More data, better analysis

With the new solution in place, JOT saw vast improvements across the entire data management process, starting with data downloads from JOT’s multiple social media partners. In the past, these downloads could take as long as a week. In many cases, they had to be done on weekends, due to limited bandwidth capacity at the local office, and even then, the downloads were often incomplete. Now all data can be downloaded and processed on a daily basis—in less than seven hours. This provides JOT account managers with faster, more up-to-date data.

Also, JOT account managers can download almost twice as many dimension and statistics fields in Azure compared to their on-premises system. These additional fields provide account managers with more ways to categorize and segment data. Because Azure Synapse Analytics can also process data across a greater timespan, the result is more detailed analysis and better campaign management.

“Quite simply, we’re able to process a lot more information in less time, more effectively,” reports Badenes. The company has been so impressed with Azure Synapse Analytics that it has moved from an hourly subscription to a reservation model extending years into the future.

Moving forward, JOT plans to implement advanced Power BI capabilities into the system. As Perales explains, “Azure Synapse Analytics and Power BI will enable our account managers to produce dashboards and reports faster and come up with new strategies to optimize campaigns.” The company also plans to integrate Azure Machine Learning to search for trends and market patterns that help to better define performance indicators.

In the digital marketing business, these kinds of optimization strategies are exactly what JOT’s customers value most. “With better analysis comes better campaign guidance for our customers—and that ultimately leads to more business for JOT,” says Perales.