Spare me your Big Data spiel. Don’t tell me about marketing’s reliance on big data, how important it is to fuel insights, or about logarithms and statistical basis for decision making. I get it.
I've been in digital marketing for years, so I have my moments of love for data. I understand how data grounds everything, informs everything. I know there are a trillion data points about the growth of Big Data out there. (Is that a meta-Big Data-Big-Data comment?) I know marketers will have more to work with to drive insights and to optimize strategies and tactics as they roll out programs. So, roger that. That’s not what I want to hear anymore.
What I want to hear instead is: What did you do with that data? How will you humanize that data?
Focus groups of one matter in marketing these days, so how will that data allow a marketer or brand to talk to me uniquely as a consumer? That’s the most important aspect of big data---the one that not nearly enough marketers are talking about---especially as our interactions with technology and the Internet become more human by the minute.
Technology Is Getting More Human
The rise of social as a digital behavior is, of course, “people-powered” and technology itself is getting more human with each product release.
Ask your Google or iPhone a question. Touch, tap, and swipe. Gesture and move, and the technology will keep up. Get face to face with FaceTime or Skype or a Hangout. We expect all of our technology-based interactions to have the same seamless vibe as human interactions. The friction that comes from the previously clunky exchanges with brands and platforms is disappearing.
People want a real, simple, relevant, personal and nuanced experience, and they are starting to get it. For example, I want everyone who touches my health data---my doctor, my pharmacy, my supermarket even--- to seamlessly help me manage my health by communicating allergy alerts or helping me understand food and drug interactions. The data is human-powered, thereby making the experience more human than ever.
So Why Do We Still Get Lost in Data?
Marketers are in danger of forgetting they are trying to reach people. They are focusing on the science of analyzing target demographics like they are specimen in a Petri dish.
I spoke on a panel recently, and an audience member asked how we panel members thought marketers would best take advantage of Google Glass data. Would it be through pop-up ads? Or quick video pre-rolls? And to that, I say, “Uh, what?” You mean you want to take one of the most up-close-and-personal experiences where a digital dashboard is attached to your head and use the information gathered to better target intrusive ads? Instead, stop, and think about how to have a human touch. Think about how to enhance the personal experience that the Google Glass user is uniquely having.
So, stop telling me Big Data points about the Big Data. I don’t want to know how much there will be or how much it will grow. If you want to thrill me as a marketer, tell me about the simple insights culled from that data. Share with me the authentic notions about a target or a behavior that emerged. And surprise me by showing how the data fueled a simple, elegant marketing experience that was, at its core, very human.