For some time, digital marketers have seemed prepared to award the Ballon d'Or (which recognizes the European football player of the year) to Big Data for its purported ability to address the world's marketing challenges.

The reality, however, may be quite different.

Big Data may be creating a rigid view of the marketplace, which may be doing more harm than good. As the world immerses itself in the FIFA World Cup, the US Men's National Team provides an apt analogy.

Everyone seemed shocked when US Men's National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann cut fan favorite Landon Donovan from the squad heading to Brazil for World Cup 2014.

Donovan has been called "the best soccer player in United States history." He is the US all-time leading goal scorer with 57, has the second-most caps in team history, and appeared in three World Cups.

It's hard to imagine US soccer without Donovan.

But let's take a step back… As a coach, Klinsmann has the authority—and the responsibility—to build the best team possible. Taken literally, that would include selecting players that have the best stats in their respective positions. By taking that approach, Klinsmann would end up with a pretty terrific starting eleven and one that would almost certainly include Donovan—on paper.

However, there's no accounting for chemistry with this approach, and so the question is whether a team that meets the key the performance metrics will perform as well as one that also considers the intangibles.

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Ray Kingman is CEO of Semcasting, an innovator in data and audience-targeting solutions for consumer and business marketers seeking to reach qualified prospects when and where they are ready to transact.

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