We’ll Huff and We’ll Puff… Marketers and Big (Bad?) Data

Like the Three Little Pigs sensing the intentions of the Big Bad Wolf, the threat of Big Data in the digital sphere scares many people.

As a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, data collection developed a bad reputation. Years of personal information was used to manipulate and influence unsuspecting prey: social and curious individuals exploring the World Wide Web.

But is data really the antagonist of this story?

Data is a staple in marketing strategy. With it, we are able to target potential customers and pique their interest in our products. On the hand of the consumer, we see advertisements for the exact products we want, tricked out with the details needed to make a purchasing decision.

Think of each time an advertisement drives you to investigate or check out a product in-store or online. Perhaps more often, however, are the times an advertisement or a logo makes an impression you don’t directly act on. When you later purchase that product, do you realize how many digital interactions you’ve had with it before your decision?

When a marketing team doesn’t have access to targeted marketing tools, they may be completely missing their desired audience. Take the following case as an example.

Clara loves exploring the outdoors. She follows and likes pages on social media that relate to adventure and nature, and when Clara plans on trying something new, she googles which accessories and tools she needs to prepare. Clara’s hand-me-down hatchback breaks down for good, and when she starts looking for a new car, she looks for one that can handle the adventures to come. This being her first car-buying experience, however, she has no clue where to begin.

If marketing strategists and dealerships don't have the opportunity to see Clara’s interests, her initial searches might show advertisements for minivans or sports cars instead. This failure to connect with an interested audience costs dealerships valuable ad spend and ignores the clear needs of the consumer.

“Big Data” has been a buzzword for the past few years, and it’s no secret that most people are uncomfortable with the amount of data companies hold. In fact, it’s led to significant changes in policy and operations for both governments and companies.

At the end of the day, consumers see a digital world created to match our needs and interests thanks to big data.

It is not inherently bad, it just has big teeth, and we are learning to be smarter little pigs and build stronger houses.