Commentary

So Much Data, Such Little Understanding

Big Data fiends are quickly coming to realize that having hordes of data and making use of that data are not one and the same. The data, in and of itself, is meaningless.

Data needs a curator. If it sits unused in a data management platform (DMP) for months or years, its only purpose is to fluff up the amount of “Big Data” some proud marketer proclaims to orchestrate.

A new research report from Millward Brown Digital reiterates this point, noting that “data rich, but insights poor” is the “current blight of the marketer.”

After surveying over 400 marketers including brands, media companies and agencies, Millward Brown Digital found that the No. 1 opportunity facing marketers in 2015 is making use of Big Data. For 13% of brands, 10% of media companies and 19% of agencies, intelligent use of Big Data is viewed as the most pressing opportunity.

Multiscreen marketing is considered the second-largest opportunity, followed by breaking down mobile and social silos, optimizing video, and location-based marketing.

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Despite considering Big Data the top opportunity this year, marketers aren’t quite as confident about the subject as they were one year ago. In fact, “only 14% of marketers feel their team effectively use the consumer, media, and transaction [third-party] data at their fingertips,” notes Millward Brown Digital in the report. That confidence level is down dramatically from 39% just last year.

“A top pain point in our organization is having insufficient knowledge and training on how to use the available data to continually refine marketing programs,” the report quotes a VP of Ad Operations from an anonymous company as saying.

Not surprisingly, agencies and media companies are more confident than the brands themselves when it comes to thinking they are up-to-date with digital marketing’s best practices. Nearly two-thirds of agencies (61%) and media companies (64%) feel this way, while only 38% of brands do.

Millward Brown Digital’s report is not the first of its kind to highlight the fact that marketers love data but don’t fully understand it. A recent Winterberry Group study found that data-driven spending continues to grow despite tempered expectations.

With powerhouse companies such as ESPN and Weather making sure their Big Data positions are always filled, it’s clear that data analytics is here to stay. This latest study simply shows that reality is catching up to expectations.

1 comment about "So Much Data, Such Little Understanding".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 6, 2015 at 1:25 p.m.

    It's true of "little data" also Tyler. When one media research service after another gave subscribers access to their detailed respondent by respondent findings so they could "explore" all of the subtle nuances, the net result was that nobody looked at the data at all.To be sure, a few ranking runs and some simplistic CPM tallies were made but all of the supposedly valuable "granular" data just sat there on the computer tapes.

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