Marketing Under The Microscope #7
Content and Infographic Made by the IT SubCommittee
A topic that has come into the spotlight in recent years, and especially during the recent pandemic that has created an increased demand for online channels, is that of “Big Data”. Virtually everything we do leaves a digital footprint; speaking to our friends, shopping online, or even using a “smart” device like a fridge to display the weather - it all creates data. But what exactly does this term “Big Data” mean, and should we be concerned?
What is Big Data? To understand the term “Big Data”, we first need to understand data. In the last 20 years, we have seen a rapid increase in the amount of data generated globally, simply because it has become much easier to create it. We have transitioned very rapidly from using paper records, which take longer to generate and physical space to store, to storing information in bits (1s and 0s) which take up much less space and time. It is estimated that every two days in 2020 we generate as much data as was ever created by humans from the beginning of time up to the year 2000. Simply put, that’s a lot of data. The infographic below, created by Raconteur Media, highlights just how much data we generate in a day - including 350 million photos and 100 million hours of video watch time.
So when we hear the term “Big Data”, this incredibly large amount of unsorted data, and more importantly the use of it, is what is being referred to. But where does it all go? And what could anybody possibly want with this absurd amount of information?
How is it used in Marketing? One way Big Data is used is through the field of marketing, where companies take large chunks of this data generated every day and analyse it in order to make more informed business decisions. It is obviously not possible for anyone to sit down and sort through what is upwards of 10006 (that’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000) bytes of data, so these companies use advanced data science and analytical computer programs to assemble this data into something we can understand, which can then be used to direct advertising and product creation. A good example of this can be seen through one of the most globally recognised brands, Coca Cola. In an interview, Justin De Graaf, Director of Data Strategy and Precision Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company, speaks of the role data plays in Coca-Cola remaining relevant to consumers. “Data plays an increasingly important role in marketing and product development. Consumers do a great job of sharing their opinions with us - either by phone, email or social networks - that allows us to hear their voice and adjust our approach.” Yet this is only one small example of how phone, email, and social network data is used. Even Netflix estimates that their recommendation system - which is based on the analysis of data around what their consumers want - influences 80% of what consumers stream, leading to a significant amount of consumer retention.
Should we be concerned? With all this data being collected, it is easy to ask the question “Should we be concerned?”. This has become especially relevant in recent times with issues such as the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal:(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook%E2%80%93Cambridge_Analytica_data_scandal) and is even becoming a concern when it comes to what news we consume in the wake of the News Media Bargaining Code: (https://about.google/google-in-australia/an-open-letter/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=hpp&utm_campaign=callout-p2, https://www.accc.gov.au/focus-areas/digital-platforms/news-media-bargaining-code/draft-legislation). While issues such as these continue to surface, it seems impossible to escape from the collection of data. Even as you read this article right now (unless you’ve printed off the SMS blog page - an action that still creates data) it is likely that you are using a device that has collected data about what you read, watch, and consume. So, simply put, we might not need to be concerned, but we should definitely be aware of what we put out there, and potentially, what sort of information is potentially being collected about us.