Nikhil Goyal
Nikhil Goyal 27 October 2014

How Marketers Ride The New Data Wave

Is a marketer's intuition replaced by data or it is born from data?

Marketers today, navigate a large and complicated universe of information sources with no single source of truth. Some of the factors precipitating this environment are:

  • The convergence of technology into handheld devices seamlessly merging the digital world and physical world shaping our experiences
  • Availability of a continuous torrent of data about consumer’s behavior and reactions
  • Large scale computing power in small desktops
  • Application of statistical techniques to the enormous data

To understand how the above points manifest in everyday work lives of marketers, consider the following comparisons between the recent past (5-10 years) and now:

How did we learn about the best media and channels to reach audiences?

Whereas we relied on syndicated sources for getting viewership data on TV, Newspapers and Magazines, in today’s digital world, every popular channel has its own analytics platform which assails you with graphs, charts, and metrics to prove their efficacy. Sample this: Facebook Insights, YouTube Analytics, DFA Reports, Twitter Analytics, Ad Words Reports, Comscore, and NetRatings - it is a long list if not endless. And this is without accounting for the onslaught of mobile specific analytics which is already flooding us.

How did we learn about the consumer buying behavior, lifestyle, attitude and habits?

We commissioned researches, brand tracks and qualitative studies where consumers shared information voluntarily. Today we speak of social listening, cookie level data, Acxiom, Rx databases, browsing behavior, visual tracking, location based services and what not.

How do we use data from channels and consumers?

Until recently, large scale data mining on server based data warehouses was exclusively the territory of Telecoms, Financial Services and Retailing Giants. Enter Cloud Computing! Location independent access to beautifully packaged dashboards has empowered marketers with scarily accurate information about their customers– will the customer redeem the coupon? Will the e-mail be opened? How many footfalls will I get from an activity? Applying advanced analytics to voluminous information databases has simplified considerably (if still not to a desirable level) 

Has the role of statistics in advertising evolved at the cost of psychology?

5-10 years ago, the Planner’s word on customer insight was gospel. You were more likely to rely on Maslow’s hierarchy than Pearson’s correlation. Hardly any agency had an Analytics team. Today, we are hard pressed to find an agency of stature which does not pay for SAS, SPSS or a similar tool’s subscription. The Planning Team almost always seeks the support of data to back pre campaign, on-going and post campaign decisions.

I reiterate what I began with- there is no single source of truth or method of decision making. A marketer’s intuition is not replaced by data – it is born from data. Planners and brand managers have always assimilated data from their environment, created models, interpreted results and acted on them. Our ecosystem today has made this process more structured, visible, executable and reliable.

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