Commentary

It's About More Than Big Data

First, let me be clear.

Big data is not a shiny new toy...not the digital flavor du jour.

That said, with Big Data, I think there is a lot less there than meets the eye.

Big D is about "that"...that users did this...that users behaved in such and such a way.

Big Data is not about the "why"...why did users do this, behave like that? 

To answer those questions, marketers and agencies need to start much earlier in the data chain. They need to plumb the depths of consumer behavior and transactions that marketers have about their power users...not the 20-80 rule...rather the 6-60 rule.

The 6% of brand users who account for 60% of the brand's profitable volume that marketers get from minimally subsidizing sales vs. maximally subsidizing sales via trade promotions that often never reach consumers.

These power users have discernible profiles and measurable affinities.

When marketers share these power user data with agencies, that information can inform creative briefs that lead to messaging which drives sales...big time.

Compared to algorithmic driven big data, the data that informs power usage of brands is "power" data. When you combine brand power data with media behavioral big data, you get something really great.

You get "smart" data...and in this world of exponentially increasing data points, we all need to get smarter.

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3 comments about "It's About More Than Big Data".
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc , September 5, 2014 at 11:17 a.m.
    The basic problem about "Big Data" or, for that matter any other kind of data, is the expectation by advocates of such systems, that brand managers, researchers and agency media or account group types will immerse themselves in the overwhelming barrage of "granular" information and, somehow, figure out what it means in terms of targeting, product positioning and media buying. History tells us that 99.9% of the information we now have---- let's dub it "small data" ----isn't even looked at nor understood. So why do we think that slicing and dicing the numbers into ever more minute bits of individual by individual info is going to change things? Let's face it, brand managers, market researchers, agency account managers and media folk are still human beings with all of the foibles that word implies. They aren't capable of absorbing so much information, nor do they really want to. Instead , they---well, most of them----prefer to be told "the answer". What the "Big Data" guys should come up with is a set of automated robots----surrogate "clients"---- who will tirelessly sift through tons and tons of data searching out new insights. Once they figure out what it all means, they can tell the humans what to do.
  2. John Grono from GAP Research , September 5, 2014 at 5:38 p.m.
    Big Data - the data for people who don't think, but think they can outsource their thinking to people who do think to do their thinking for them. I'm paraphrasing an explanation I read a while ago (apologies to whoever wrote it) but it does help explain the faddishness of 'Big Data'. The biggest challenge with Big Data is to work out which slivers of it have any meaning for your brand, then get rid of the rest, then get back to managing your brand.
  3. Vikram Somaya from The Weather Company , September 8, 2014 at 9:17 a.m.
    I think the industry's odd perception of big data people as a bunch of technology wonks without any cross-pollination from research, insights, media, operations and product is hilarious. If true, then clearly it's being done wrong. Big Data is as a tool for smart humans. If you expect it to do your work for you, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you. It's also evolving constantly and allowing you to economically and quickly validate theories and put those results into practice. That is a gift to our industry (and any other) and we should view it as such. Dave - always good to hear you bringing the future into the present. It is that kind of insight sharing that is going to transform the agency/marketer/platform relationship and I look forward to seeing the Morgan Principle (Pareto v2) in action. We might have an option over at Weather for those who are interested.