Now Trending: Trending Data

Despite its appeal, many marketers struggle to unlock the value and potential of big data, given how unwieldy and complex it can be. Recently, however, big data inched closer to marketing’s center stage, as several tech titans are making a clear bet on one key application of the troves of new information being collected daily: trends.

Many influential brands are built through cultural transactions and conversations.  Being able to measure the response to, and impact of, these conversations is becoming increasingly important to marketers. Thanks to technology, understanding granular consumer and cultural trends through “trending data” will become an integral and essential role in driving better engagement across a wide range of categories, from social networking platforms to gaming to even music.

In looking at Microsoft’s Xbox One launch, which heralded entertainment consolidation through technology convergence, one particular feature that stood out was the integration of Trending TV in the platform. This feature would allow users to see what the entire Xbox LIVE community is viewing across shows and video-on-demand and then recommend or socialize.

This feature certainly seems to ride the vanguard of the social TV trend, based around the notion that consumption is a prerequisite to conversation. But the Trending TV feature affords something potentially more compelling than making content more socially immersive; it can actually open up the possibility of a new-media and revenue model for Xbox based on trending data.

In theory, Microsoft could measure how socially responsive a piece of content is and then offer advertisers the ability to use this data to better retarget these same users with on platforms ads that are based on trending interests. As Xbox One starts to move into the TV space with its integrated play for the living room, these offerings can only mean better measurement between TV and off-TV screen consumption.

Another recent use of trending data has been Twitter’s launch of its ad targeting tool designed to bridge content and conversation, with the goal of bringing more TV advertisers onto Twitter.  It makes perfect sense for a platform built on conversation and cultural trends to coordinate promoted tweets with live TV programming.  Twitter says that 32 million Americans tweeted about television last year, hence the decision to create the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating” as an industry-standard metric. But what’s really interesting about this proposition for marketers goes beyond the promise of integration and revenue-sharing deals.  It’s about the potential of the type of data that will now be created in the form of cross-channel trends.

Pressure for new revenue streams is clearly familiar territory for the music industry.  Where might they turn?  You guessed it: trending data.  Music as an influential cultural force has always been around. Today, music accounts for 400 million tweets sent every day. And recently, Fuse, Trident and Twitter joined up to develop and promote content based on trending data. This new programming, “Trending 10,” is built around the most-talked about music discussions of the day. The sponsor (or advertiser), Trident, is integrated into the weekly content in a segment called Flavor of the Week along with daily brand integrations.

The recent announcement of Google’s Top Charts -- a monthly series of trends based on Google’s Knowledge Graph, providing a representation of the actual things people are interested in, rather than just keywords alone -- is further proof of the massive potential of trending data.  Top Charts will also enable marketers to find tangential correlations between trending interest areas, creating new discoveries for marketers of their consumers' passion points .

This is clearly an interesting space to continue to watch. It’s clear that marketers will feel increasingly more comfortable with data when they can readily see its application in a way that’s familiar and simple -- and in a way that adds value for both them and consumers. In short, trending data may not a trend at all, but the beginning of a new reality for both marketers and advertisers alike.


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  1. Stefanie Smentek from Comcast Spotlight, August 13, 2013 at 2:02 p.m.

    Comcast Spotlight is hosting a free webcast on August 28th at 2PM on this topic with AdAge:

    Big Data: The Data-Driven Media Plan

    The success of 2012 Obama Presidential campaign proved that large amounts of data from a variety of sources can be combined to micro-target critical voters in critical locations. But can big data provide the same results for consumer marketers?

    Register to join a panel of experts in a live, interactive webcast as they discuss how marketers are matching data from a variety of sources to increase the efficiency and impact of their ad campaigns.


    Dan Stein - Senior Vice President, Crossix Analytics

    Helen Katz - SVP, Director of Research, Starcom Mediavest Group

    Andrew Ward - Group VP, National Sales, Comcast Media 360

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