Big data this.


Big data that.


The Big Data chat is gaining a lot of momentum at the moment and every list claiming to predict media trends for 2014 highlights its significance. In this article we’ll be looking at understanding what big data is, how it fits in with our work and, in turn, how it can be used to improve your work.


The chart below shows the increase in Google search for the term “big data” over the years. Quite dramatic really.


The general idea of big data is this – we’re taking “understanding your audience” and making it a science, using huge sets of figures to measure consumer behaviour, to gain insight into the most effective way to communicate with this audience. And we’re not just talking about a couple of Excel tables here. Nowadays everything is collected, recorded and analysed. The processing power of computers is accelerating at such a rate that data management has improved immensely in just the past 5 years, which explains the relative recency of the big data concept. The volume and variety of data being collected has grown exponentially, and is being processed at an equally impressive speed.  We know when your customers are sleeping, how they’re shopping and where they’re eating. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.


Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google put this into perspective for us, “from the dawn of civilization until 2003, humankind generated five exabytes of data. Now we produce five exabytes every two days…and the pace is accelerating.”


Experts predict that in the not too distant future, everything anyone does will leave a digital trace. How is this information being accessed? Credit card usage, smart phones, television viewing, cars, package tracking, sensor-equipped buildings. Data collection tools are everywhere, literally in your back pocket, and the power in the information they are emitting is wild.


Have you heard about Target being able to predict when their customers will get pregnant as a result of the big data they collected? The megastore identifies customers by an ID code based on their credit card or email address. Statisticians started looking into the shopping behaviours of pregnant women. They found trends in purchasing specific products such as cocoa butter, calcium tablets and large hand bags (perfect for nappy carrying).  The analysis of information was so extensive, they were actually able to predict due dates and send vouchers for baby products to the expecting mothers, accordingly. Too far perhaps?


Let’s turn our attention to how big data is used and perceived in Adland.


A recent Sky IQ Ad science report looked at how agencies are using big data when creating TV advertisements. Of the senior advertising professionals interviewed, 85% believed that the significance of big data to our industry is growing. In fact, 60% said that data was more important than creativity when producing a TV advert.


Discussing the evolving role of big data, Rob Jackson (MD of Elisa DBI, Havas Media) states, “traditional metrics are being challenged by CMOs and so fresh thinking, which fuses technology and creativity, is required for organisations to navigate the new media landscape.”


Effective use of big data allows us to gain a clear, useable understanding of customer characteristics and behaviours. We then take this understanding and plan the most effective way of connecting with your target audience.


Our appreciation for BIG DATA at Hello Starling is evident in our knowledge of your customer base and in turn, the personalized and detailed media plans we design. It’s a specialty and something we’d love to help you with, so please do get in touch if you would like us to bridge the gap between yourself and your customers.


By Angharad Edwards