The magic behind marketing: Big Data

Oh! you are reading my blog. This action might tell something about you. You are probably my classmates, my lovely professor, or you are really into marketing. Every little action we have on the web will become a tiny part of the big data. Every click, every tweet, every check-in, every view tells something about ourselves. Big data, contains all those information for millions of people.  When we want to predict how people react to a new campaign or new store layout, Big data is there to play the magic. However, as we all know magic doesn’t work every single time. Big data has its limitation as well.

“Big data is high volume, high velocity, and/or high variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision making, insight discovery and process optimization.” Gartner

What is the value of big data?

In an article I read, the process of using big data looks like this :


Data itself doesn’t mean anything. We need to use data to gather information and discover insights of people. Through analysis of data we can get to know the answers of what people really want, when do people want it, how can we reach them, and how do they like us to reach them.  Information and technology help us to understand the patterns of past data and more accurately predict the trends. The better you predict the trends, the better you can alter the outcome into a favorable direction. I surely have heard about this process somewhere, uh-huh, my statistics class. If data can help us do the same thing, then why do we need BIG data? Getting more data enhances the chance to find useful information to make better prediction.

We are living in the era of big data. Spotify’s “recommended playlist”, Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought Items in Your Recent History Also Bought”, Netflix’s “recommended shows” and Gilt’s “Your personal sales” are all done through big data. They knows what you have bought, what you have looked at, how long did you spend on certain product and they can even predict how likely you will buy another similar product.

Success user of BIG data:



Netflix gives viewers what they want.  According to the article I read, Netflix looks at 30 million “plays” a day, ratings of subscribers, three million searches, what time do people watch shows and on what device. Netflix even look at when do people pause, rewind and fast forward. Netflix used big data to understand its users and even know what shows people will like before they do.

Limitation of Big data:

More data does not mean good data. In the process I shown above, after we collect data, we still need to analyze them and convert data into insights/information. Marketers are still needed to decide what data to collect, and interpret the meaning behind data. If big data is the magic, then marketers are the magicians. Marketers can’t rely solely on big data. Data can only tell you the past preference or past behaviors of people, but how accurate can we use it to predict the future? We don’t know. Data might show that a good story can capture people’s attention for a longer time, but data cannot tell you what story to tell or how to tell the story. Marketers should use big data as a tool to better understand customers and improve marketing strategy instead of following what big data tells you.



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