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Data - relevant to the future of marketing?


The emergence of big data as an industry buzzword has seen some analysts describe it as the future of customer-focused marketing and PR, offering as it does the chance to target consumers more effectively and adapt campaigns to specific groups or aims.

While this kind of Holy Grail-type rhetoric is perhaps overstated, there is no doubt the firms that learn how best to manipulate and understand the huge amount of information they can take on board will gain a tactical advantage over their rivals in the coming years.

According to Simon Daglish, group commercial sales director at ITV, more focus needs to be placed on contextualising data if firms are to really harness the power offered by new information collation techniques.

Writing in the Drum, he pointed out that marketers need to avoid being seduced into thinking that human beings will behave in a "linear, predictable" manner - a type of thinking that can be encouraged by the use of big data.

"I am not the same man when I am standing on the terraces at Ipswich Town Football Club watching my team lose, as I am when reading my four year old a bedtime story. Yet the data says I am," he pointed out, (inadvertently raising the sinister prospect of someone keeping tabs on what bedtime stories you read your children).

However, his point is a good one - data without contextualisation and creative marketing approaches is simply an oblique collection of figures. Businesses need to do more than simply add up the numbers.

Mr Daglish also warned that big data processes can encourage short-term thinking, making it harder for brands to build up the kind of equity and consumer trust that long-term advertising campaigns can offer.

"One of the reasons people continue to spend their money to purchase Apple products was not the result of advertising that they ran in that quarter. It was because of the advertising that Apple had run the previous 25 years," he argued.

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