I had finally made my way home after attending the BOLO 2014 conference in Phoenix. One of the keynote speakers spoke about the emergence of Big Data, so it was fresh on my mind. I carried my suitcase inside, went downstairs, sank into the couch and turned on the World Series game 2. I have a love for “the game”, baseball that is. “Strike three! Did you see that cutter? He’s not a good lowball hitter, that was a smart pitch.” Baseball is renown for its statistics and data. By the time the pitcher steps onto the mound, he likely knows more about the batter than the batter does himself… where he likes the ball, what pitches he’s a sucker for and probably how he likes his ballpark hotdog (hold the mustard, please). This got me thinking, “Is Big Data really something new?” Not entirely. Technology seems to be just starting to catch on. If you ever listen or watch a Major League Baseball game, you will hear the announcers discuss data that pertains to the team, the player, the stadium, the date, and nearly every game features some sort of “first ever” moment. It amazes me, really, how much they know about every element of the game. These strategies will soon be available to marketers; being able to fully know your audience, to know what “pitches” they like and dislike. Understanding more about them and their propensities even better than they do.
Big Data is defined as “extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions,” which basically means targeted marketing to consumers will be more precise, segmented, and interactive than ever. In Major League Baseball, there are over 100 years worth of data for the sport. Players and coaches not only pride themselves on their talent and knowledge, but on their diligent research. A coach knows not only his own players, but the opposition, this way he can determine the best match-ups and stack his chances. Even though a coach brings in a fastball hitter to face a fastball pitcher, it does not guarantee success. We can expect many new technologies and options for tapping into this Big Data, however it is not going to be easy either. This data will present its own challenges. One thing Mark Schaefer, Executive Director at Schaefer Marketing Solutions, notes about this trend is “it’s getting more and more crowded out there.” Even with this data it is still going to be a challenge to stand out among the advertising noise.
The term “Big Data” keeps growing, ironically, as does the data. By 2020 we will have access to 600% more data than we currently have. Soon, marketers will be able to serve targeted TV commercials, instead of wide casting their nets. Soon, ads will be interactive with their audience instead of static. There are currently over 14 billion mobile devices in use and by 2020 we will see this climb close to 50 billion. More technology, more touch points, more advertising.
It’s tough to say where this will all land and how much further things will progress. After all, there is only so many hours in a day and so many ways consumers use technology. Some consumers are starting to feel the “big brother” side of advertising, but the truth is, there’s no going back. We have become too accustom to the way things are and the conveniences of smartphones, Internet, and TV. It is going to be fascinating to watch how it all plays out. As for now, stack your chances, put in your starters, and “play ball”!