BrainTrust Query: The New Big Data Mandate – Consider the Source
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the newmarketbuilders blog. The article first appeared on the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) blog.
In a recently penned article for Bloomberg Businessweek entitled "The Case against Digital Sprawl," David Turek, head of supercomputer development at IBM, argues that companies need to get ahead of the extreme data density being driven by socially networked customers, tweeting employees, YouTube-loving marketers, and what he called "an Internet of data-savvy and data-spewing objects."
The "Big Data" phenomenon also begs for new collaborative approaches between retailers and brand partners. Big Data enables retailers to evolve from the transaction-based POS-world approach of looking at what people have already bought, and into understanding intentions, interests, and connections — dynamics that are a much better predictor of what people will actually buy in the future.
Up to this point, most of the conversation regarding Big Data has centered on management and utilization opportunities, in terms of what to do with information once it arrives. The next challenge: the growing scrutiny surrounding how the data is obtained in the first place.
Privacy issues are nothing new in retail as concerns regarding credit card transaction data, smart phone-enabled geo-location tracking and other sources of personal information loom large with consumers. Now, stealthier data tracking methods promise to elevate perceived threat levels even as those methods bring game-changing results to brand marketers. With software able to determine a user’s browsing habits, website and mobile marketers can target "behavioral ads" designed with people’s habits in mind. In some cases, electronic tags can predict if a consumer is price-sensitive. As various social platforms such as Facebook and browser platforms such as Google become more proficient at combining insights into users’ viewing, browsing, purchasing, sharing and movement habits, the "single view of the customer" so desired by marketers may soon look like a highly-intrusive X-ray.
Public awareness and resistance is growing, even as negotiations over "do not track" (DNT) legislation are at a standstill in Washington. In February of this year, all the major web browsers promised to offer a DNT feature, and the Digital Advertising Alliance, a coalition of advertising trade groups, promised to stop displaying targeted ads to users who selected the feature by year-end.
Microsoft was given kudos in June when it announced that it would make DNT the default seting on its newest version of Internet Explorer. These self-regulating steps were undermined last month when the Digital Advertising Alliance advised its members to ignore DNT signals from Internet Explorer users, arguing that DNT requests don’t necessarily reflect the user’s intent if they are set by default. Advertisers have further complicated matters by insisting on exceptions to DNT policies for market research, product development, system management, and other self-defined purposes.
All of these developments mean that realizing the opportunities presented by Big Data involve big controversy.
What should retailers and brands do to get ahead of any concerns and backlash over the potential marketing use of Big Data? What retailer/supplier collaboration will particularly help?