In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
Gartner said its survey of 720 companies asked about their plans to invest in Big Data gathering and analysis show that almost two-thirds are funding projects or plan to this year, with media/communications and banking firms leading the way.
More than one-third of media and communications companies said they have already invested in Big Data projects, according to Gartner, which said these companies are trying to better understand customer needs in order to make sure their businesses are pointed in the right direction.
"For Big Data, 2013 is the year of experimentation and early deployment," said Frank Buytendijk, Gartner research vice-president. "Adoption is still at the early stages with less than 8 per cent of all respondents indicating their organization has deployed big data solutions. 20 per cent are piloting and experimenting, 18 per cent are developing a strategy, 19 per cent are knowledge gathering, while the remainder has no plans or don't know."
On a related note, a Council for Research Excellence (CRE) symposium on Friday at the Time-Life Building in New York City offered a glimpse into why large media companies might have a strong interest in aggregating volumes of data from many sources to better understand their audiences.
The CRE convened a panel of executives and analysts from across the broadcast industry to discuss the issue of coming up with credible ways to mathematically "model" the connection between viewership, advertising and promotions. The issue of modeling, on which many millions of dollars in advertising hangs, has bedeviled the broadcast industry since the early days radio and TV. Now, with social media having an impact on opinion and online broadcasting getting underway the question of "modeling" the impact of advertising and audience has become far more complex.
At the CRE panel, the expression Big Data was heard again and again. Dave Poltrack, chief research officer at CBS, said the industry was at an inflection point now with the introduction of new media, which is expanding the need for a new kind of analytics.
He said CBS is keenly interested in the topic of Big Data and has expanded its research arm to include individuals -- a younger crowd, he acknowledged -- that have backgrounds in online and social media as well as analytics to broaden the perspective at CBS. "We're in discussions about Big Data," he said, with some projects underway. Poltrack said researchers would like to find ways to weave traditional information known about audience viewership with new ways to understand online activity through social media like Facebook and Twitter to help CBS in its programming and overall business.
Jim Spaeth, partner at consultancy Sequent Partners, who also spoke on the CRE panel, pointed out that social media has become the new "poster child for complexity" in advertising.
He said the analytical models around social networking are more sophisticated than what's been seen until now. Social media is something that almost "spreads like wildfire," he pointed out. But businesses want to know how cross-channel advertising in digital and traditional media will impact audience viewership and shopping habits as well. How to advertise via mobile is also being considered part of Big Data strategies, though there isn't much modeling there for purposes of advertising, some panelists said.
There's also skepticism about whether it's possible to gain great value in Big Data that might marry large streams of disparate information in an analytical attempt to somehow divine meaning about what happens in advertising and audience impact across boundaries of traditional and new media. Mike Donahue, executive vice president at the American Association of Advertising Agencies, who spoke on the panel, said Big Data strives to be about context, but the industry shouldn't lose sight of the "small data" about local markets.
Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail: email@example.com
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