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The Marketing Industry Has a Big Data Problem


The explosive growth in social media has forever changed the way marketers do business. We live in a world where social is integrated everywhere — TV, mobile, digital, print, live events and more — serving as a driving force for human interaction. There are more than 1.7 billion active users across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn who generate 4.5 billion “Likes” and 400 million tweets every day. In social, the experience is always on, and across every device. Facebook claims more than one billion monthly active users through mobile devices alone, and Twitter has 500 million people coming to the site each month to check out profiles or individual tweets.

These numbers will continue to climb with each new wave of products, and as other social networks with critical mass open their platforms for paid, owned and earned marketing campaigns.

That’s a lot of data. Data that brands should be able to leverage to inform their future social marketing efforts. Sadly, despite the fact that big data has unlocked tremendous value for so many industries around the world, brand marketers are being left behind.

Marketing campaigns are still being executed in silos. Excel remains the most commonly used platform for analysis and reporting, but such reporting is generally confined to the campaign level. Brand managers can’t roll up campaign reporting to the brand level, and CMOs can’t roll up brand results to the corporate level. Incredibly sensitive information driven from millions of dollars in media campaigns is even passed around via email and on USB drives, without regard for corporate security.

Marketing technology vendors aren’t stepping up to innovate in this space. Industry giants are trying to swallow a mishmash of technology they’ve come to possess via acquisition, and startups have “technology” that masks legacy, people-driven processes.

In a world that will see marketing leaders spend more than $100 billion by 2019 on search, display, social, and email marketing — a figure that surpasses broadcast and cable television spend — the lack of secure social data measurement, reporting, ownership, and portability is doing real harm to the Fortune 500 and their partners on Madison Avenue.

These are big problems, but they can be solved. The same tools that scientists have used to manage and analyze huge data sets while mapping genomes, performing complex physics simulations, and biological research, can be adapted to deliver CMOs what they really need: Accurate analysis of how their marketing campaigns are performing, and total ownership of their social marketing data.

Industry giants are taking notice and making some inroads to drive value. For example, last month, IBM and Twitter announced a wide-ranging partnership to provide IBM customers with access to the Twitter firehose. Still, as Chris Moody, Twitter’s vice president of data strategy, notes in Fortune: “Our data is useful, we need someone to come along and build value on top of it and combine it with other data sources.” In a world that markets across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — while coordinating social with TV advertising and maintaining search, display, and online video simultaneously — that’s true for every player.

Big data platforms can perform sophisticated analysis in real time. Advanced data science applications provide predictive modeling, scenario analyses, statistical modeling for marketing planning, and more. Delivering real-time insights allows marketers to make better decisions and act on the newest and best information to improve their future efforts. Some 84 percent of enterprises see big data analytics changing their industries’ competitive landscapes in the next year – it is obvious that those who embrace big data and analytics will gain a competitive edge, while those that don’t will see their market positions slip as they fail to compete. Simply look at the impact of big data and analytics on the financial markets that embraced this change – and grew their businesses – as compared to those who became extinct.

The marketing industry needs to embrace change.

Re/code’s readers are at the forefront of technology innovation. The team at Unified is leading the charge to bring big data and analytics to the CMO’s office. If you’d like to know more about how big data will change the face of the marketing industry in 2015, let’s start talking.

Shawn Douglass is president, Big Data & Analytics and CTO, at Unified.

This article originally appeared on

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