With MEPs urging the European Commission and data regulators to ensure companies which use big data are more transparent about the information they are tapping into and are not discriminating against groups of consumers, the phenomenon is once again in the news.
But to show just how powerful big data can be for brands, you only have to look at Spotify’s data-inspired ‘Weird’ campaign which hit poster sites around the world last year.
The music streaming service tapped into its data archives to offer a light-hearted look at how its users have been interacting with its music and playlists. In the UK, a poster said “Dear 3,749 people who streamed ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It’ on the day of the Brexit vote. Hang in there.”
The US market were treated to messages including: “Dear person who made a playlist called ‘One Night Stand with Jeb Bush like He’s a Bond Girl in a European Casino’. We have so many questions.”
Each poster, with wording adapted to each regional audience, closes with the line: ‘Thanks 2016. It’s been weird.”
It was said that 2016 was data-driven marketing’s breakout year. It’s about time – data is a key tool in industries as diverse as automotive, telecoms, retail and sport. However, marketers are (rarely) data scientists. This puts the onus on software providers, who will need to deliver tools that make it easy to visualise, analyse and understand data.
“The availability of data, a new generation of technology, and a cultural shift toward data-driven decision making continue to drive demand for big data and analytics technology and services,” said Dan Vesset, group vice president, Analytics and Information Management at IDC, in a recent report.
Naturally, this has implications for IT departments. As demand for data-crunching tools grows within the business, there becomes a need for greater alignment. That’s one of the key drivers for digital transformation, and a key challenge for CIOs, as highlighted in this Gartner report: ‘Now is the time for digital transformation’.
Marketers’ demand for data is also evident by the upsurge in programmatic marketing.
This method of automatic advertising is forecast to grow by 31% in 2017, faster than any other digital channel. Advertisers bid, or use algorithmic software, to serve website visitors users with display ads. These are served based on factors such as the website type and relevance to the user.
Underpinning it all? Data. Specifically, data about the user. Advertisers need to know about the visitor in order to know whether they should serve up an ad that will interest them.
If employees are a company’s most valuable asset, then data isn’t far behind. This is down to what Forrester calls ‘the customer experience ecosystem’, a key battleground for companies. The key to giving superior customer experience is quality data.
What’s more, the rise in omnichannel marketing requires CRM infrastructure to be robust enough to handle the increased data volumes. To stay competitive, companies must gather and, more importantly, interpret data about their customers.
Dale Green is associate marketing director at Digital Realty