Data Today, Data Tomorrow
As Colin Powell suggests, “Experts often possess more data than judgment.” I could spend all of this column listing simple forms of data that could in some way be used to target, segment or prescribe an experience. Yet I believe we’ve grown past simple recognition of data, and data management doesn’t adequately describe the problems we face in this industry. We are at a point of intermediation where decisioning meets judgment. I foresee some events in our space over the next few years that we’ll have to shape to our advantage to survive.
The Big Four may own ALL the data. Yes, Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon! Google’s virtual, complete horizontal integration of the consumer experiences, the sheer breadth, engagement and depth of Apple, the community within Facebook, and the scale of intent and purchase information Amazon is compiling – all this is dizzying. Is there going to be a co-opetition/sortium? Will we all share and buy data from each other -- and how will marketers make the most of their own data assets in this virtual triage of the customer experience? The cost of data will not get cheaper, some will be more transient, but these companies are really close to putting it together. These trends are inspiring in many ways and I believe will be valuable to marketers, yet brands will cede control over time without major investment.
Privacy is going to drive a shift in the targeting/advertising industry. Yes, lots of talk about where this is going, but you can’t help but think that something has to give. Ad exchanges, ad networks and the publishers will be fighting a virtuous battle that I think will benefit the publisher over time -- but not before we have a crackdown on privacy. This is important, as it can potentially make it far more difficult to bring the online/offline insights together. There will be a heightened scrutiny of how we connect anonymous experiences with known, with targeting and segmentation.
Analytics will become as transient at the data we are tracking and storing. Transient data is valuable, yet it has a shelf life, as does analytical insight. The pace of the device-dependent, connected consumer experience will far outpace our ability to track, manage and make decisions. We have become much better at storing data for analytics, processing analytics and even building decisioning capabilities. Connecting those to channel and linear experiences will be the key. Analysts will have to accelerate and simplify insight so the channel and brand marketers can make in-market decisions faster.
I used to believe Jason Jennings’ book personified “it”: “It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast the eat the slow.” I’d actually shift this a bit and say there is a class of big and fast that will shape the industry, and brands and intermediaries will need to rely on these companies to complete their evolutions (we do in so many ways already).
Should be inspiring to see how we build a self-actualized brand experience that can be replicated in scale. As providers to this space, the channels (like email , mobile and social) will only evolve as fast as our ability to shape the Big Four, handle privacy and shape a new pace of analytics and business intelligence.