If content is king, then data is emperor. Do any of us really know what Big Data will mean for the future of marketing? When thinking about data, I’m reminded of Arthur C Clarke’s Third Law (he’s best known as author of the sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey): “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I truly think we are approaching a threshold for most marketers where the manipulation and analysis of data will indeed look like magic.

Google’s Eric Schmidt has already given us a heads up when it comes to data: “People aren’t ready for the technology revolution that’s going to happen to them.” It’s all about volume, variety and velocity of the data that exists now. Here’s a quick take on Big Data. Think of every action that can be tracked on all the devices we use that are connected to the internet (including PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, set top boxes, cars, smart appliances, out of home advertising, and more). That’s every mouse click or screen tap. Put that in a box and add to it every offline decision we make that gets captured in digital data records. Now hand that to a friendly neighbourhood brand marketer who knows what to do with it – how to capture, organise, analyse it. Now that marketer knows what offers we respond to and what channels deliver us to their cash registers. It is called cross-channel media attribution and it is only the start.

There are a couple of other ways Big Data changes the game. First, if you know – really know because of your data analysis – where your dollars work best, you’ll spend smarter and the results will be much better than a non-data analysis based marketing spend. This will hit the bottom line because you’ll either spend less or your return on marketing investment will be higher (ie. your profit will go up). Even scarier, your marketing will get more predictive. Your data will point you in more lucrative directions. If your current market data is a compass, your future data analytics will be more like a GPS. Your marketing journeys will be faster, safer and cheaper.

That day isn’t here yet. But there are individuals and organisations who are taking the first steps. There are many in the brand marketing, media and agency worlds who are looking to knock down the knowledge barriers too. If you aren’t focusing on Big Data already, reset your radar and get it on there – because while most traditional marketers are playing checkers, those marketers who have embraced data will be playing chess.

 

Agree? Disagree? Got more to say? Leave a comment below or email the author at patty@digitalchameleon.net

Also, if you are interested in learning more about data and analytics, Digital Chameleon are looking for beta testers for a comprehensive e-learning course they’re developing, called Luminate Data. All you need is an internet connection and some time to review the latest course. Drop Patty a line at patty@digialchameleon.net and if they have beta tester spaces available, they’ll set you up.

Patty Keegan
BY Patty Keegan ON 20 July 2012
Patty Keegan is director of Digital Chameleon. Beginning her career in magazines, she was also VP at Carat USA, founder and director of Carat Interactive Australia, founding general manager of the IAB Australia, and is one of the biggest players of Australia’s digital age. Twitter: @pattykeegan