“From the dawn of civilization to 2003, five exabytes of data were created. The same amount was created in the last two days.”
–Google CEO Eric Schmidt
We’re at a knowledge inflection point. There are more sources of information, more ways to capture that information, and more ways to translate it into actionable insights than any other period in history. As this inflection becomes more pronounced, those who understand its impact and are prepared for it will become the drivers of strategy.
Brands will continue to search for ways to quantify their marketing efforts and qualify the rationale behind their programs. Delivering real insights based on the increasing volume of data around us provides a way to build measurable programs and deliver quantified results. By aggregating and analyzing this information, we can deliver data-driven, actionable insights that bring greater knowledge to marketing programs. This is the critical imperative of all those involved in marketing a brand, product, cause or idea.
You Data/Me Data
We shed tens of thousands of bits of information everyday. That shedding is accelerating beyond our cell phones with new developments and the rise of wearable tech like FitBit and the Apple watch. We put on devices every day. We throw them into our pockets, and we create a data trail with every step. As the amount of data increases and becomes more personal, it only complicates marketers’ ability to reconcile the avialability of information and the consumer’s expectation of personalization.
Big Data/Small Data/Mid-Data
There’s a lot of talk of big data, but big data is a complicated concept and even more difficult to unlock. It also doesn’t acknowledge the massive amount of information all around us that we’re still not effectively unlocking. There’s “small data” that comes from measuring how many views a video receives or the number of clicks on a link. We can also do a better job unlocking “mid-data” – the valuable information we get from platforms, like Facebook, that shows how effective we’re being in engaging with an audience. Or, the information we get from our paid efforts. There’s a lot of information and insight locked within mid-data and small data that can elevate marketing efforts before we start to think about big data, with its complex requirements and computational needs.
The Public Data Pool
Identifying and harnessing data is just the beginning to be able to turn that into relevant, valued and effective connections with consumers. And, more tools are emerging to effectively capture that information, but there’s still not a clear leader. For the most part, we’re dealing with a few common datasets. The ability to create the best filters that unlock that information, combined with an understanding of how to turn the data into insights is the clearest path to success. There are several common tools everyone is using to capture and analyze data. There are social tools, enterprise tools, database modules and market metrics. All of these, collectively, still require a deliberate protocol for pulling a collective insight from the information. There’s an opportunity and growing interest in finding ways to create a single view of the consumer.
The Knowledge Arms Race
Brands and agencies stand to gain considerably from a cohesive and comprehensive approach in this new era of knowing, and they’re all working to master the data deluge. It’s an arms race that requires focus and investment. What’s needed is a clear, defensible future that’s grounded in insights. To secure this future, brands and agencies need to assess their data opportunities and assets. This assessment includes an evaluation of the opportunity – for brands, how best to find that intersection with their consumer and data and where the most meaningful information resides. The trouble is that there are often too many data sets across multiple groups and locked within proprietary repositories. For agencies, it’s aligning a value proposition built on insights, with a clear role for data in justifying strategy, creative and engagement programs. Both brands and agencies ultimately need the ability to leverage all of this to deliver actionable insights based on real knowledge. Knowing will transform marketing. And those that can deliver actionable insights will transform our concept of knowing.
Making an Impact
There’s a real, measurable impact that knowing more can have on existing investments, including:
Primary Research Programs: by harnessing both the market-based approach of primary research and big data capabilities, tools can refine the output of those capabilities to deliver quantifiable insights that fuel programs.
Existing Dashboards: greater analysis capabilities complement the real-time, dynamic nature of real-time dashboards by providing the long-term, data-driven insights based on accrued influence.
Real-time Marketing Efforts: with the ability to mine the endless conversations online, and combined with the real-time nature of big data, analytics deliver insights that go beyond real-time and give brands an opportunity to know sooner, with time to prepare, react and plan based on indicators from online clues.
Traditional Services: the concept of influence hasn’t changed, but the context has. No longer relegated to a name on a masthead, influence can be found in more places, and it’s attributed to more people. Knowing who is really influencing a brand gives teams like PR an opportunity to apply their skills in more ways that drive programs for clients.
Content Strategy: From content strategy to community engagement, the quality of insights we can deliver bring the “why” of social media to light in the context of how programs are built and gives programs and content more purpose.
Data Pathway & Data Collaboration
Creating a data foundation for insights has an impact on the entire marketing community. Creative, Strategy, PR, Marketing all have a common foundation of knowledge and can rally around insights grounded in fact, bringing a cohesion to the marketing community within a brand. This common knowledge level-sets a common view of the consumer that could have previously been clouded by independent perceptions of reality fostered by years of disparate data and analysis.
With more emphasis on ROI and measurable results, the need for better insights will continue. Data alone is useless without the ability to develop an insight from it. Gone are the days when we can or need to rely merely on experience and what has always worked in the past. We must focus on what will work in the future. We can look beyond a rearview of what was successful and look ahead at what will be successful. Historic data should play a role in defining a path forward, but it’s no longer the only data we should use to make decisions.
The Knowing Manifesto (prelude)
Given the amount of data we have access to today, and the increased ability to capture and convert it into insight, we should know more. We must know more. Brands should hold their agencies accountable. Agencies should push their clients farther. The data pool has become an ocean. That ocean will either drown us in data or provide wealth of information, nuance and insight into the intersection of brand and consumer.