What is the “good”, the “bad” and the “ugly” of big data? (Yes, it’s not perfect but you can learn how to leverage it)

Last year I attended Advertising Week, an annual gathering of marketing and communications leaders that occurs in NYC. My goal? Listen to the experts talk about trends and news happening in the industry and discuss their predictions. Biggest takeover? BIG DATA. I managed to enter to 25 different conferences and listened to another four online and the most common topic, besides content, was “big data”.


Right now big data is a hot topic in the marketing and advertising world. But what does this term actually mean?

The Real Meaning

It is a common term constantly used today that refers to a “wealth of information in the form of either a structure or unstructured data that internet marketers can use in order to predict and analyze business circumstances that can lead to a more confident decision-making process”. Some industry analysts have broken it down into four dimensions, or the four V’s: Volume, Veracity, Variety and Velocity.


Source: IBM

The Good

Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

The Bad

  • Some marketers worry that big data has an image problem. Everyone is using the term but not everyone truly understands what it is and how to leverage it. For some, it’s just another meaningless buzzword.
  • Big data can be a little overwhelming, but the truth is that it isn’t enough to making great marketing campaigns or taking important decisions. It needs to work by the side of intuition and common sense. It also needs to be humanized and transformed into valuable insights that can tell us not just the what but also the how to proceed.

The Ugly

  • Security breaches are a big concern. Today, information means power. Data breaches can threaten a company’s database as well as consumer’s confidential information.

How to make the bad and the ugly look pretty?

Source: Citrix

Source: Citrix

  • It’s important to pay attention to data, but instinct and imagination should never be exchanged for it. They must work together.
  • There are plenty of companies taking advantage of data, such as Netflix. They were smart enough to develop an algorithm that drives recommendations according to each customer’s tastes and history. They must be doing something good, since 1/3 of North America’s Internet data consumption is done by people who use Netflix.
Source: DELL

Source: DELL

So how can you process all that? Let me leave you with three key ideas…

1. Big Data isn’t a miracle solution for everything. It shouldn’t be a clash of titans between data and creative ideas. It needs to be accompanied by creativity and a well thought marketing process achieved by a great team.

2. “Size does not matter, insights do. Brands don’t care how big your data is; instead, they want to know if you know how to use it and what they need to do next”. The idea is to help us with data to find those nuggets that will allow the creativity necessary for achieving a compelling storytelling for brands.


3. The truth is “brands don’t want big data, they want actionable insights“. As marketers we must understand that just because we have the data it doesn’t mean we have everything solved. We must learn how to fully comprehend each piece of data in order to come up with great ideas and stories for each brand that will transform in engagement and added value to not just consumers, but people.


Featured blog image: impractadius.com

Roundup of Analytics, Big Data and Business Intelligence forecasts and market estimates (2014) – Forbes

The 4 V’s in Big Data for Digital Marketing – B2C

6 Predictions for the $125 billion Big Data Analytics Market in 2015 – Forbes

Brands don’t want bigger data. They want actionable insights – Ad Age

What is Big Data? – IBM


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