MiLab Q&A: How Big Data Can Make or Break Your Marketing

Information is the raw material of target marketing, but gathering data from the Internet, mobile, social media and all the other tracking available today has grown beyond what you can handle with traditional desktop tools—entering the realm of “Big Data.” Data hasn’t just gotten big, it’s gotten so big it’s crushing some marketer’s targeting and loyalty programs. Soon, knowing how to manage and use that tsunami of data will be a key difference between marketing programs that work, and those that don’t.

On Thursday, April 5, DMA’s Marketing Innovation Lab (MiLab) will present an interactive event in Silicon Valley dedicated to Big Data and its impact on the marketing community. MiLab is a collaborative initiative launched by DMA to highlight innovation in big data marketing, technology and analytics, and we had the chance to ask Alexandra Morehouse, chief evangelist and managing director of MiLab, a few questions about how marketers can recognize, manage and exploit Big Data:

1. What is “Big Data” and what does it mean for direct marketing?
Morehouse: Big data happens when you join enterprise data with digital data—and with social data. Today, there are more kinds of data than ever before. Enterprise data, of course, is something companies have had for a long time, since before the Internet. Then we added digital data, which is everything from websites, mobile, games, apps and the like. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was all of the social data that we see today. Social data is customer data, but it is unstructured, so it looks very different from the rest of your customer data.

2. What’s a good benchmark for marketers to tell their data has or will soon become “Big Data”?
Morehouse: Big data is measured by some in terabytes, petabytes and beyond. But the most common-sense answer is this: When it becomes difficult to keep track of all your customer data, that’s when you know you’ve entered the world of big data. And that point can be different depending on the size of the company, or where you are in the maturity of the company.

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