From Knowing a Little, to Knowing Everything; The impact of Big Data on Advertising
What and How?
In an era of information, internet, smartphones and Google, one of the most interesting and impactful new tool companies have on the tips of their fingers is the science of data collection namely, Big Data. It consists in collecting, classifying and analyzing data coming from multiple platforms and to transpose them into facts and statistics. This process can be applied to many fields, but the one field that has been significantly influenced by this new phenomenon is the world of Marketing and Advertising. Changing the process of advertising drastically, marketing agencies have to reinvent themselves to produce campaigns that are extremely targeted and precise.
Now able to know and predict the buyer’s intentions, companies have access to information they never would have had before. Social networks are good examples because they offer personal information. What music you like, what social class you are in, approximate income, your habits, things you like and more. Able to know you on a more personal level, companies can assemble campaigns that will engage you, attract you, and connect with your values and beliefs. The analytic aspect of Data collection, is where the marketing agencies are challenged. From the dawn of time to 2003, humans generated around five Exabytes of data. In 2012, global data grew to 2.7 Zettabytes, which is 500 times more data than all data generated prior to 2003 in only 10 years. This constant flows of data, coming from all those different platforms are hard to analyze due to the substantial amount there is. Companies have to invest in sophisticated programs that use complex algorithms to classify all the data. Once the data are analysed, marketers needs to come up with campaigns that are innovative and will target as precisely as possible their consumers.
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How do you convince me?
Additionally to the complexity of producing effective marketing strategies, advertisement is also evolving in a brisk way. The mediums by which we consume content has significantly changed passing from fix televisions to a multi-screen reality. With Television, laptop, smartphone, tablet and screens of all sorts, commercials have become somewhat optional. Big data comes into play in a form of online advertisement commonly called pop-ups.
”Commercial web publisher make space available on their web pages for banner and display advertisement. Typically, when a user opens such a web page, the browser reaches out to an online ad exchange network and request an ad unit to serve to that user. The ad exchange broad cast the information enriched with behavior data specific to the user. The information is compared between advertisers to determine which ad is significant to that user. Then bids are made by companies and the higher bidder wins”.
In other words, in order to decide which ad will get the slot on the web site, the exchange board analyse the behavior the user had prior to opening that page. Your research on Google, the web sites you browsed, your Facebook profile and many more are taken down and classified. As an example, if you wrote on your Facebook profile that you just bought a pair of boots, chances are the boots ad won’t be selected to advertise on the page.
Many different marketing techniques are used in relation to big data. The analysis of word is one of those techniques. Based on the traditional marketing technique called ”Weasel Word”, agencies use words that have a positive connotation and that have an upbeat phonetic when pronounced. That way, the customer’s focus is diverted. With data the company use the same technique, but with words that are often employed by their target consumers. Browsing on social media, marketers are able to draw a pattern of word choice in the collected data of their actual customers. They will then use those words in their commercials to engage the buyer. Another technique that is used is the ”Plain Folks” technique which consist in making the product appear to be for ”ordinary” people. Like the cliché example of a regular family eating cereals in the kitchen, companies combine big data by analysing the social class the buyer is part of. That way, they can reproduce their target buyer’s environment and convince them that they can and should have that product. Even favourite colors, book or food can be used in an advertisement even if it has nothing to do with the product. A lot of the tactics that are used are made to act on a subliminal level and that is precisely where advertising is effective.
The concept of ”mind share” is at the core of advertising and is another facet of the unconscious effect it has on consumers. Often we claim that claim that we immune to advertising, or that it does not ”work” on us, right? Well that is precisely what agencies want you to believe. The more confident one is about his/her control over marketing, the more this person is in fact affected. Mind share is the idea that certain brands are able to associate themselves to a concept, an event or even beliefs and values. The more you see that advertisement, the more chances you have to buy it. This will happen not because you will consciously think that because you have seen it everywhere you need to buy it, but because you will automatically create a link. If I was to write on a shopping list to buy some Tide, you will most likely know that Tide is a detergent and you will probably see the bright blue yellow and orange of their packaging. You will also find the item pretty fast in the isle of the supermarket and probably one commercial of the company will come to your mind. All this because of a combination of being seen everywhere, having catchy slogans, good commercials and the effective use of advertising techniques.
On a business level, big data is about to change a lot and will provide companies with an effective tool that will help them achieve new summits. Is big data good or bad, the question stays ambiguous for now. Advertisement will get more and more targeted, but where will it stop? For some, data collection has become an issue of privacy since companies use personal information about them. For others, it is a question of evolving into a more intelligent model of consumerism and allowing people to shop more effectively.