In a recent article that appeared in Online Spin, “Who Will Win In Emerging Big-Data World?,” Dave Morgan makes a clear case for the increasing role and importance of big data for media, marketing and advertising. His key points are that analysis of big data is becoming far more accessible as new technologies enable more cost-efficient data storage, management and analysis. And, that marketing and media companies must move beyond basic data analysis and leverage insights into predictable business outcomes.
However, there is a compelling reason why most media, marketing, and advertising companies continue to rely on relatively unsophisticated usage of fairly standard data sets. Mainly, these historical practices have been proven to drive business results. Behind this fairly obvious point are three important reasons. The current practices have proven to be: 1) actionable, 2) scalable, and 3) easy to execute. For big data to deliver its potential value to most media, marketing, and advertising companies, it must move beyond interesting insights or predictable business outcomes, toward driving compelling business results.
At present, big data analysis is living up to its expectations in enabling data mining for valuable media and marketing insights -- something akin to mining mountains for potential nuggets of gold. Big data analysis makes it more affordable to find previously undetected niches with a greater likelihood of being exposed to brand messages, or with a higher propensity to respond. But capturing the value of these nuggets also requires the ability to readily extract the value of the insights -- the insights must be actionable. Insights on where to mine are useful, but actually finding gold is required to deliver value.
Finding a few gold nuggets may make you happy (at least for the moment), but it will not make you rich. Similarly, to ensure sufficient value for business, insights must be actionable in a large scale. These days, big data analysis makes it possible to identify many potentially worthwhile nuggets, but most media, marketing and advertising companies lack the ability to extract the value of increasingly fragmented opportunities. They lack the necessary technology, applications and process automation to turn insight generation into automated campaign execution, which in turn delivers more predictable and worthwhile revenue and/or margin growth. In gold mining terms, this means moving from sifting for gold nuggets to open-pit mining with large scale processing -- the ultimate goal being to identify, process, and extract value from every bit of gold within our reach.
Last but not least, for most media, marketing, and advertising companies to fully take advantage of the promises of big data analysis, the process of extracting value from insights must not only be actionable and scalable, but must also be easy. The next generation of breakthrough applications to leverage big data will need to be so easy to use that it would enable just about anyone with a little domain expertise to readily identify, process, and extract the related value in a largely automated fashion. Then we will truly see the potential value of big data being realized.