The term big data is the latest buzzword to take the marketing industry by storm. Just like Hi-Def, Smart, and The Cloud before it, this latest catch-all seems like it is being slapped onto every product and service offering being pitched. Beyond the chrome casing of this latest shiny new object though is something incredibly transformative for business and for marketing professions that will likely outlive its fifteen minutes of slogan fame.
Here is a brief explanation of big data and what we think it means for our future.
What is Big Data
In short the term refers to the collection and analysis of data sets so large and complex they become difficult to process using on-hand tools. Think terabytes (1,000 gigabytes if you are wondering) of information collected to research particle physics, the human genome and the global economy. Supercomputers full of data to crunch.
Big Data and the Modern Marketer
Marketers have always been data crunchers. We take data sets like GRP’s, ratings points, circulation, demographics, psychographics etc. and mix it together with our clients objectives and budgets to form media plans.
The amount of data about consumers available to the modern marketer is overwhelming, especially when it comes to the online audience. Consumers lives are increasingly spent working with massive online systems that track their every movement. Advertising platforms offer up complicated ways to reach these consumers with custom messaging. We marketers have to process our options, build out plans and then actively react to the data that’s collected throughout our campaigns.
As an agency, our clients are expecting and receiving much more information about their campaigns’ performance than ever before. We have to collect, analyze and report on vast quantities of information in order to give our clients insights into who we reached and how our efforts affected specific objectives.
While we aren’t quite doing particle physics, we are increasingly mining and reporting on large sums of data that cannot be contained on a legal pad.
How We Are Using Big Data
As an example, we recently had a campaign running for a client that utilized television, radio, digital, and print. TV assets were repurposed for pre-roll online video and a rich media banner campaign that appeared on local news sites. We also had a paid search component and ran ads on Facebook. Everything online was tagged with campaign information for the client’s web analytics.
Targeting our audience with geographic location data was just the beginning. We also used a number of systems that gave us access to our audience using behavioral data. There were both awareness and direct response components in this campaign. That meant looking at both click and post-impression data from our ad-server, as well the client’s web analytics.
I should also mention we had eight different creative executions that were rotating, adding to the complexity and amount of data we would need to collect and analyze.
This campaign gave us access to information from a lot of data providers. At Tipping Point Media, we not only efficiently collect data; we analyze it and present it in a way that is easy for our clients to understand. This means using internal systems to pull everything together in one place so we can tell the story of our campaigns at regular intervals. A story that isn’t just “this metric is up, that metric is down” but is focused on providing real insights into what was working, why it was working and how optimizations could improve performance over time.
The data along with our insights were presented to the highest levels of our client’s organization based on the importance of our findings. The information helped drive important business decisions that went beyond marketing initiatives.
We run campaigns like this every day and have a team of digital marketers who spend their time turning big data into insight. This insight drives strategy for future campaigns across all of our clients, allowing us to build a track record of success.
The Future of Big Data
While we would be foolish to think that the term big data won’t go the way of gamification, synergy and second-screen, we know that we are going to be using it to provide insights for a very long time to come. Digital marketing will continue collecting large amounts of information that needs to be processed in order to be converted into actionable insights that drive business decisions and boost the bottom line. That is why, for the modern marketer, big data is here to stay.