DATA: DOES SIZE MATTER?
Every two days we generate as much data as we did from the dawn of time till 2003. If you were to store all the data generated online in the last two years on floppy disks, the number of disks needed would reach as far as the earth to the sun (149.6 million km). But this isn’t trivial pursuit, and I’m sure you are well aware by now of the sheer data volume we are creating and giving away.
If all this talk of ‘big data’ sounds daunting, you’re not alone. Countless marketers say they don’t even know where to begin. All that data, flying at us in hyper-speed needs to be mined until a few key nuggets of insights appear.
The question is how can brands use that information in meaningful ways, without being overwhelmed by its crushing weight? What are the rules around using big data vs. small data? When should marketers be looking at fewer data points, rather than more? And is more necessarily better?
Let’s break things down. First, it’s important to keep in mind that not all data is created equal.
This is the gold standard. It incorporates everything you know about your customers firsthand. This includes media messages they’ve responded to, buying behaviour, size, and demographics.
The next best thing. Given the nature of their business, publishers can supply you with more data than you typically would have access to. This includes interests, hobbies, and preferences.
Now necessary to overlay an emotional angle onto your consumer profiles. It provides ‘say vs. do’ nuances and highlights how your audience connects with one another and their influencers.
You’d struggle to have missed the buzz around ‘big data’. But before we dive into it, a definition is in order. Big Data’s size keeps changing. A couple of years ago, a few dozen terabytes of data were considered big. This volume has now been dwarfed by petabytes of data (1 peta =1,000 terabytes). The explosion in smartphone adoption meant that many more data points are created in real-time. That’s the velocity element of big data.
If you’re just dipping your toes in the sea of data, then your entry point needs to be more granular. Website visits, top performing content, impressions, and viewability can be just as valuable in helping you derive insights. Big data doesn’t replace smaller datasets, it adds a more universal and real-time layer for more sophisticated analysis.
Here’s how you can make the most of the data you have available:
Gartner identifies four applications for data.
Small data will typically allow you to conduct Descriptive and Diagnostic analytics. Hindsight shows what happened and why. You can then derive insights for more informed decision-making.
This type of data is gathered after running a campaign. The results are then optimised and campaigns run again, potentially taking months to complete. But fast-paced is the understatement of our generation. Consumers are on a trending subject one minute jump to another just as quickly. Can anyone remember how quickly #thedress broke and then unbroke the internet? 48 hours, tops.
That’s where big data comes in. The real benefit does not derive merely from its size, but its velocity. Getting data as it happens and, more importantly, acting upon it rapidly, minimises the turnaround for campaigns and their optimisation. Youtube stars are the leaders in this domain. They always have their finger on the pulse, so as soon as something starts trending, they pounce with content turned around in as little as a day.
Being able to respond rapidly is only the first step that big data supports. Eventually, we can look beyond just the trends, to pick out patterns that haven’t yet begun trending. That’s Predictive Analytics.
Using Google data, Kleenex planned a campaign around pre-empting flu outbreaks in specific regions, based on changing patterns in search queries. The messages about tissues were delivered in the right places at exactly the right time.
The intersection of people, data, and intelligent algorithms will have far-reaching impacts on media efficiency. In an omnichannel world, consumers are fluttering from one media device to the other. This has introduced a twist to creative storytelling,