Agencies need big data skills

TRENDAFRiCA February 24, 2014

Even though ‘Big Data’ was predicted to be the big trend of 2013, it is going to be even bigger in 2014 and marketers are increasingly looking for agencies with big data skills and experience.

With super-fast growth in digital information and easier access to data, marketers can now work in more depth. Those that weren’t thinking about using this valuable tool a year ago, are using it now.

‘’In my opinion big data will still be the trend to watch during 2014 because marketers will be using it more cleverly,’’ says Joanna McDowell, MD, Independent Agency Selection (IAS).

Broadly defined, Big Data is analysing useful data that marketers and brand managers can use to hone in on their target market to achieve better results. In South Africa, even with lagging internet speeds and technology, this trend is already emerging.

‘’Marketing managers, brand managers and  agencies that don’t think about taking advantage of big data will undoubtedly fall behind those who do,” says McDowell.

“’Big Data’, so called because it’s the combination of a variety of much smaller data – gleaned from different sources on the internet, in day to day life, through social media, through shopping habits that are monitored – allow advertisers and marketers to be more precise in their communication to their target audience,’’ explains McDowell.

“It’s a fantastic platform to obtain better results through digital advertising, direct marketing, traditional advertising, PR or media campaigns, because you can use big data to accurately measure your target audience.”

Big data can be continuously improved and updated as new information comes to light, and can be added into information in order to create a much more detailed and fuller picture of the consumer. “It’s quite obvious that when used effectively, this can have a very positive effect on a company’s brand or products. So the use of Big Data will definitely increase,’’ predicts McDowell.

Big data is able to predict the value of a continuous variable. For example, a marketer might be interested in predicting those who will respond to a promotion and thus big data in marketing and branding is dependent on data mining which involves exploring and analysing large amounts of data to find patterns for big data use.  Addressing the challenge and capturing the opportunity requires advanced techniques and technologies to enable the capture, storage, distribution, management, and analysis of the information and this has created new opportunities for specialist marketing firms.

Big data increased the demand of information management specialists. Oracle Corporation, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, EMC, HP and Dell spent more than $15 billion on software firms only specialising in data management and analytics as far back as 2010, and this specialisation is growing annually at around 10%.

“Big data technologies and solutions offer other advantages too. One is time reduction. For example, big data easily reduces the cycle time for complex and large-scale calculations from hours or even days to minutes or seconds which helps large merchandisers such as Pick n Pay or Woolworths.

In a case study for Macy’s Department store chain in the USA, it was shown that big data was able to reduce the time to optimise pricing of its 73 million items for sale from over 27 hours to just over one hour.

“Clients looking for South African agencies with strengths in big data will need to see evidence of locally successful campaigns. The good news is that these campaigns and agencies do exist and we are seeing more and more agencies beefing up their technology in order to remain competitive in this space. Careful scrutiny of methodology and results is essential for clients to be able to make the correct selection for the right fit partner,” concludes McDowell.

Source: The IAS (Independent Agency Search and Selection Company)\



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