Measurement and accountability is an evergreen subject in our industry. When dinosaurs ruled the earth and I worked at OgilvyOne it was foundational to our approach. Recently, accelerated by social media, the amount of available customer data has increased exponentially giving rise to our latest marketing-speak catchphrase: Big Data.
It has spawned a cottage industry of articles (almost as many as “How to measure social media ROI” – see image below) from this sublime piece in the New York Times to this metaphorically-dense piece in Advertising Age.
Straight-up I’m a fan of any tool, tactic, device, bright shiny object that can provide me more insight into the brains of customers. I’m a Strategy person after all. Here’s where the hype and the reality of Big Data seems to be diverging.
Too Much Data, Too Little Insight – we’re collecting terabytes per days but the computational power required to analyze and make sense of it all is not yet available. Moore’s Law needs to hurry up on this one. We seem to be doing more warehousing and not enough mining.
Not All Data is Equal – which datapoint is worth “pursuing”? In the proverbial haystack which are the needles, which are the pieces of straw? When does a datapoint become a trend that a marketer can leverage? Case in point, 3 months of googling “chocolate covered gnocchi recipes” during my wife’s pregnancy shouldn’t be construed as a long-term trend – or reason to keep sending me chocolate coupons.
Privacy, Privacy, Privacy – this is an easy, but legitimate, jab to take. Who is collecting all this data? How safe is it? How trustworthy are they? Do I even know what’s been collected and what it is been used for? All legitimate concerns and definitely the biggest considerations between the dream, and the realization, of Big Data.
While the promise of Big Data has marketers (let’s not forget politicians, scientists, lawyers, students) salivating, I’d propose it has most consumers feeling somewhat anxious, confused or terrified. Perhaps that could be reduced if we were clearer about the “value exchange” between us and our customers. Essentially answering their “What’s in it for me?” question.
Going out on a limb here but some ideas…
Tell Me What You’re Collecting: How many companies proactively tell customers what data they’re collecting on them? We’re legally obligated to share it when asked…but have you ever offered to share it? Will this spook some customers? Definitely but Transparency is everything in today’s market folks.
Tell Me Why You’re Collecting It: Again, Transparency folks. Why do you need that piece of information? Why is it critical to the relationship between me and your brand? Researchers will tell you that nothing turns people off like extraneous questions. However, if you make it clear why collecting that data point is valuable to the customer (less spam, better targeting) you’ll get more buy-in.
Then Friggin Do Something With It: My biggest peeve! You send me the same coupons I don’t redeem, offer me downloads to the same articles I’ve read previously, invite me to webcasts I’ve ignored previously. Why? Why? Why? If you’re not going to meaningfully use it all the data you’re collecting on me, you’ve just made a mockery of points 1 and 2.
Marketers are in the business of solving customer’s problems. Data is always going to make that simpler. However if we just keep collecting it and not leveraging it, we’re going to nurture an audience of Rejectors, Avoiders and Skeptics. Surely that’s not the promise of Big Data is it?