Live from NCDM13: Big Data is Small Data, Too

Marketing is a noble calling – and what power that brings!  Wedged as marketing analytics people are – between consumers increasingly anxious about privacy and CMOs/marketing leaders increasing anxious about “keeping up” on big data – we have a great opportunity to smooth the gaps in understanding about how big data-driven marketing provides new value.

todd cullen at NCDMAttendees at NCDM13: Where Marketing Meets Big Data were invited this afternoon to rise up to the challenge.  In his closing keynote, Todd F. Cullen, Chief Data Officer at Ogilvy & Mather invited attendees to:

  1. Think Differently (About Data)
  2. Think Differently (About Yourself).

“There are two paradoxes driving most of the trends in marketing analytics today,” Todd said.  “The first is around us – where big data and small data are blending and creating opportunity (despite the hype).  the second is within.  I am both a creative and a math geek.

“Depending on who we are and the culture of our company, we might approach our work from one direction or the other,” he said.  This apparent contradiction in environment and self will cause us to whiplash between the two – but we must embrace  both paradoxes to be successful.”

Much of the conversation about big data has been to focus on the WHAT and not the WHY.  Todd challenged us to never forget the WHO.  “We talk about technology and data like it’s just lines of code and the perfect model.  However, we also must care about people. About human behavior and customer connections.  This is why we have two sides to our brains and two sides to our marketing personality.”

“You have a noble calling.  You must use it to both drive transactions and cultivate devotion.  We must do both.  No one else in the organization can do this – but we can.”

Todd encourage us to do “More big thinking coupled with more doing differently.”  He noted that traditional data is still alive today and very useful for extracting new insights.  “However, that is only true to the extent that we expend the effort necessary to think through the right use cases. Those use cases are the core of an effective approach to marketing analytics.”    We build them by applying the standard concepts of pattern detection, adaptive analytics, predictive modeling, micro segmentation and others.

We have an urge to collect all possible data, he said.  However, when you acknowledge and plan from this shared paradigm (big and small data, creative and analysis), you can “Start with the data you can and should collect, then develop use cases and secure access.  Do the math, but be creative in connecting with other humans,” he advised.

“There is a tension to create transactions and drive immediate, recognized revenue,” he said.  But those are often best done  by creating experiences that engage.  “Content without intent like the tree falling in the forest – nothing resonates.”  Marketing that does not encourage, drive or nurture an action is useless, he said.

Consider too what Todd called “The Snowden Effect.”   “It is impossible to talk about privacy and a data today without this creepiness factor that comes in.  No matter that it’s not correct or appropriate to compare NSA actions to marketing practices.  Even intelligent people have a hard time differentiating between marketing data and risk data. ”  That raises the bar for marketers.  We all must be very purposeful in our approach to data governance, stewardship and privacy.

“Consumers are now starting to doubt the value of content,” he said.  “They question that the price of more content is more data.  They question that for all this complexity, all this concern about privacy, all this filling in of forms … and at the end of the day, all they get is more targeted ads.

“Is that really all we can do”” Todd challenged the group.

Big data is getting smaller, he said.  Consider the  opportunity to engage consumers when we can understand movement as well as digital behavior.  “Your iPhone is wearable technology,” Todd said.  “That trend is happening now – and must be factored into every customer engagement campaign.:

“It’s about the data.   The tools and technology are available. The devices are in play.  “Marketers must earn the right to use personal data, and we will only build trust when the branded experiences are truly worth having – and sharing data over.”

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Photo credit to @JohnBalla of SAS Institute.  (Thank you!)

Join the DMA marketing analytics community at NCDM15 at the fabulous Palmer House Hilton in Chicago in February 2015.  More info and to register on our website.

 

 

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