The Data Struggle is Real

This past week has seen facebook fill the headlines with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It has surfaced the challenge and responsibility companies and brands have in collating, hosting, sharing and using data.

Facebook itself being a highly trusted brand is dependent on the billions of users that divulge so much about themselves on the platform and are seemingly under the illusion that they control the privacy of who sees what they share.


In the midst of this, the headlines paint a gloomy picture of brands not taking the responsibility seriously and questioning whether they should have such access.

I believe that the more open world in which we live today in has potential to be used for good by brands. If brands use data responsibly to serve more relevant information to a specific audience, surely that can be good thing for everyone? As a consumer, i want suggestions or information that is relevant to me, not to be bombarded by irrelevant messages.

This doesn’t discount the huge responsibility brands have in how they handle people’s data. Paul Blockney’s article on this topic I found particularly helpful in navigating what this means. The three principles he describes are important for all brand marketers to take heed of:

  1. Manipulate data, not people
  2. Deliver a behavioral return on investment
  3. Be obsessed with data transparency

Read more about this here

The struggle for a brand marketer is not just about handling data with care, it’s also about knowing how to even get started. With 2.5 Exabytes of data produced everyday by internet users, so many posts, pictures, reviews and videos at our disposal, it can be overwhelming working out how to navigate it all. Today it’s not just data, it’s navigating the complex world of ‘Big Data’. In fact, Getting Digital Right report by Millward Brown found that only 41% of brands felt confident in their organization’s use of Big Data.

Despite valiant efforts such as this to light-heartedly ‘big up’ the potential of Big Data, the struggle remains real…

I loved Walker Smith’s advice for brand marketers on how to tackle Big Data. He suggests that we should be bringing it to bear where more means better, specifically:

  1. where there is little or no data currently available
  2. where existing data is flawed because of things like weak or indirect measures or untimely, slow collection or reporting
  3. to enrich established, well-understood models of marketing engagement
  4. to facilitate more robust experimentation via A/B testing

Read more here

The struggle is real guys and gals. As technology evolves, and digital ways open up even more data streams brands must find a way to responsibly navigate this. Handling data with care, transparency and being fully conscious of the people the data connects to should be at the forefront of all brand marketers’ minds. And, as daunting as ‘Big Data’ purports to be, it pays to consider how it can be used incrementally on top of the data you already have to improve understanding of the audience. I’ll leave you with this to ponder… in the words of Big Fat Jewish “peace out, I’ve got more stuff to learn”.

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