Big Data is a hot word today. I hear it almost every day from class, web articles, news, or conversation between friends. From what I learned in Database, Big Data, which was born due to the fast-growing Internet prevalence, represents two characteristics- large amount of unstructured data and real-time processing as well as three keywords- Volume, Velocity, and Variety. Today, almost everyone owns and is obsessed by smartphones or tablets, relying on these mobile devices to do most activities in life, such as browsing, searching, socializing, or purchasing. All of these activities result in enormous amount of data with great variety, from transaction information to reviews of products, or even discussions on forums or pictures put on blogs. Big Data uses various techniques, such as Hadoop, to process this large data in real-time and assist marketers to better understand their targeted customers and take valuable actions quickly.
Big Data has a lot of advantages in marketing. First of all, with Big Data, marketers can quickly reach each customer, get their profile, and give them customized response to solve their problems or give them incentives, which enhance brand image or order rate. For example, companies can change their websites layout in real-time based on the customer’s nationality or location and feed him suitable content. For another example, marketers can efficiently process remarketing, which means serve customers display ads of products they have browsed at other sites. Second, it allows marketers to understand customers’ sentiment through analysis of unstructured social media comments, which makes creating and improving products or service as well as understanding trends more effectively. Third, with Big data, marketers can predict customers behavior through analyzing customers’ real-time and historical actions. The most famous example will be Netflix serving subscribers recommendation lists based on their watching behavior. Another example is that Target tracked customer’s purchases and found out she was pregnant and served her ads of baby goods before she knew it herself. Last but not least, Big Data saves companies lots of money and time by reducing the numbers of engineers needed and by shortening the time processing the large amount of data.
However, Big Data also has some disadvantages that are often concerned. The most serious one is privacy. Many people worry that with Big Data, companies can get customers’ personal information and figure out more private infos, and even things the person himself doesn’t know, such as Target found out customer’s pregnancy. This thorough track and watch make many people feel unsecured and being hunted by companies, which always know what they are thinking about, not only through the internet, but some times even offline. Also, most people don’t know how large amount of their information are being tracked, which they might not allow stores to do that and result in negative impression of that brand which tracks. From brands side, many companies might use Big Data wrongly; some of them want to use it just because it’s a current hot topic, but they don’t know how to do with it. Holding large amount of data won’t do companies good, they have to know what they are looking for and what to do with the insights derived from Big Data. Using it in a wrong way or messing up the privacy line will both creep customers out and result in worse situation.
With Big Data, marketers can get all kinds of data, but the essence is how to explore it and extract the most valuable information from it. Although the total amount of data is enormous, most of them are irrelevant information and only very little data among it is needed or relevant to specific marketing objectives or strategies. Therefore, learning how to use Big Data correctly and understanding of the brand objectives and strategies are very important. Also, Big Data only provides marketers the data-driven analysis but no creative or qualitative-based decisions. A successful campaign can not run just with the analysis of behavior data but without creative. Only by combining both marketers’ creative ideas or intelligence and external data collected from customers or industries can brands really harness Big Data in a right direction and optimize their business towards success.