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Big Data, Big Marketing Data, and Connected CRM

It has already been over three years since The Economist ran a cover story entitled “Data Deluge.”  The article and its position as the lead piece in a widely read business publication placed Big Data squarely in the position of HOT buzzword for technologists and business decision makers alike.  In the time since, many have attempted to define exactly what is meant by Big Data and use it to tout solutions to a wide range of problems. 

“Overwhelmed with data? We have a BIG DATA solution to help you manage your data!”

“Too much data and don’t know what to do with it?  We have a BIG DATA solution to help you activate your data and generate insight from it!”

“Trying to figure out what to do with all that first party and third party data?  Our BIG DATA DMP will make it all accessible and actionable in a privacy-friendly way!”

It’s easy to make fun of the buzzword bingo, but the fact is, almost all of us in companies that operate at the intersection of marketing, data, and technology have participated in the facetious game. There is a reason Gartner refers to the “Hype Cycle” when discussing Big Data. There has absolutely been a lot of hype, but in this case, it’s not just idle buzz. Its results have led to meaningful improvements for marketing practitioners, albeit something short of world-changing.

In January, Winterberry Group gave its annual presentation delivering a wrap-up of 2012 and trends for 2013. In the presentation, they noted correctly that, for all intents and purposes, the term Big Data has become diluted and that what really matters is Big Marketing Data.# (Yep, a smart new buzzword is in play). Big Marketing Data lets us focus less on the gigabytes, terabytes, petabytes and zettabytes of data and more on how data can really impact connected customer relationship marketing (connected CRM). And when we look through that prism, what’s remarkable is how much has changed and how much has not.

What’s changed?  Since 2009, US display ad marketing spend has risen from $8.4 billion to $13.7 billion in 2012.  Applying analytics and third-party data for real-time bidding, a practice which didn’t exist until a couple of years ago, now drives 10% of that display ad spend. Putting those two statistics together, we have a fundamentally new data and analytic marketing application driving nearly $1.4 billion in marketing spend.  That is a remarkable change driven by, and contributing to, more Big Marketing Data.

And yet, during that same period (2009-2012) while display, mobile, search, and social were spinning off new and ever more interesting combinations of Big Marketing Data, direct mail spending…wait for it… also increased by $1.4 billion. That may reflect a very small growth rate compared to display ad growth; but are you surprised that direct mail grew? Don’t be. The right Big Marketing Data, with the right analytics to distill insight, drives effectiveness within and across a variety of media and channels, including ones that we may have previously written off as old or boring. Connecting the right insights across media and channel touchpoints to drive an engaging customer experience is what connected CRM is all about. That’s why Big Data – and specifically Big Marketing Data – will be a foundational component of connected CRM in the years to come.

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