Big Data 101 and the Impact on Digital Media Planning

Big Data! Such a promising nirvana with no universal definition of what it means. The killer buzz word comes with a lot of ambiguity that has caused marketing professionals to use it without knowing what it actually is.

Sometimes we are all so drawn by the hype that it doesn’t look ‘cool’ to go back and question how the concept got started.

  • How did this term enter the advertising industry?
  • How can “Big Data” help us improve our business?
  • How is it affecting my role?
  • What does it constitute?

The good news is, unlike its name, Big Data is not rocket science and you don’t need to be a math geek to crack the code! Advertising has always been about ideas and creativity. Going back to the Mad Men era, no matter how much Don or Peggy believed in their ideas, there was no way to prove a proposal would rock the client’s business. However, today creative people in the advertising industry can use big data to support their media planning ideas by ensuring the right audience is being targeted.

How big is big data?

I must say it is pretty big! Think of the number of people who use the Internet everyday; then multiply that by the number of different devices, and add in the location of the users. Then supplement the mix by the number of websites out there with all the different contents. This is only one layer of Big Data in the digital space but it gives some clarity in terms of the global aspect of the audience targeting potential within the online environment.

But what makes Big Data even more complex is when you add in the profile of individuals to the former mix. Here is an example of one of many users – lets look at the profile information that can be taken into consideration:

  • When/what time of day does s/he go online?
  • Does s/he run a search and what keywords s/he uses?
  • After how many searches does s/he find what they were looking for?
  • What type of websites does s/he surf?
  • What type of contents s/he reads?
  • How much time s/he spends on each site?
  • Does s/he ever return to the main page?
  • What is his social behavior? Does s/he just checks friends photo albums, or comments on a status?
  • Is s/he following a trend or are they just there to share a personal experience or broadcast news?

These are just a few examples of questions that can be asked to identify an audience profile. One can go on and on, as there are many more factors that can be considered and added to the mix. So you can imagine just how Big of an audience database you can get.

Imagine how much information you can extrapolate from Big Data. There are tons of studies you can run based on historical data or you can build predictive models. There is no surprise that technology plays a great role in storing all this information, however machines still lack intelligence to interpret the data without the interference of humans.

Evolution vs. Revolution

‘Big Data’ has by far been the biggest wave in the advertising world. Big Data is not the succession of other medias in this industry. Advertising started with silent ads in print, and then became more entertaining with radio and TV because of vocal, animated ads. As technology advanced, advertising shifted towards the Internet which accommodates a large spectrum of advertising techniques. If we look at this evolution closely, we can see it has always been the same strategy done with different executions.

Big Data is revolutionizing this progression. It is no longer the same strategy. In fact, Big Data defines every step of the campaign approach, from setting up objectives to execution. It determines how the budget should be allocated to different medias, where the most relevant space is to reach the customers, measures performance and has many more features. It enables you to be more spontaneous, effective and eventually deliver more efficient results.

Art vs. Science

‘Big Data’ has made a huge shift in how advertising is seen. Although it is crucial to remain creative, it is becoming more important to know where, how, when and to whom you should deliver your message.

The most inspired ideas are bound to fail, if they are not statistically equipped.

Probability vs. Facts

It is no longer based on one’s personal preference or gut feeling that puts a media plan together.

Instead one ought to invest on those audience profiles that Big Data dictates. The beauty of Big Data is data, numbers and facts to back up ideas. Is that not a dream come true?

Luxury vs. Necessity

Data is no longer an add-on feature to make digital media planning more sophisticated; as a matter of fact, day after day data is contributing more and more to the success of media plans and it is becoming an essential foundation to the plan.