If Marketers Are Drowning In Data Imagine How We Feel In Digital Marketing

Posted by

While sitting through the awards ceremony at last night’s Canadian Marketing Association 2007 Annual Awards, it struck me how many statistics were being tossed out on ROI, data and sell-through. I know that on the Direct Marketing side – and, to a certain degree, through the entire Marketing and Communications industry – collecting data is key to consumer insights, targeting and to developing campaigns and program that can be customized and personalized.

The general feeling I get is summed up in that famous saying, "we’re drowning in a sea of data." When questions about what Facebook will do beyond what we’re seeing now in online advertising, the true win seems to be in harnessing the mass amounts of data it is collecting and being able to provide a near one-to-one Marketing experience (that Marketing dream is near).

I wonder when that will be a possibility.

Even now as we mine through data to do email marketing campaigns, the complexity of the data structure and computer processing power takes time, human effort and an intense attention to detail. So, if we are, indeed, "drowning in a sea of data," imagine what Facebook’s data might look like. Now, imagine what kind of computer and human processing power will be required to harness it for what it is truly worth.

In recent years, the general consensus when it comes to collecting consumer data online is to gather what you really need and what you’re going to use. Extra data collection – as we know – is a pain for consumers to provide and creates a certain barrier to entry for optimal online experiences. I know there are many strategic and data-driven Marketers who focus on massaging this data to make it more effective, while I’m sure this post is about as exciting as watching paint dry for those who prefer chitter chatter about virtual worlds and micro-blogging platforms, but it’s a storybook we all need to be reading from.

Data is getting more and more complex and the Marketers who can take it and do something with it are going to have the big wins in the coming years. On the back-end, I’m certain that the people at Facebook are doing everything in their power to better understand the data clusters and how to best make it available to Marketers. I would not be surprised if they’ve been sniffing around the Googleplex to better understand how Google manages and houses its complex data chains.

If Marketers have been drowning in a sea of data, just stop for a second and imagine how people in Digital Marketing feel. Beyond the consumer data that’s being collected, we’re also streaming through multiple Web Analytics platforms, ad servers, email marketing solutions and more to create better online experiences.

Now, we’ll see how well this data was captured and, more importantly, which Marketers can decipher and deliver on it.

Data could well be the next new big idea (again).


  1. Good questions. We naturally still see the data collection environment in terms of “drowning”, “sea”, suggesting the overwhelming vast amounts we now generate in comparison to our process capacity (i.e. computers, humans, etc.).
    I predict however that there will be an analytics singularity, in reference to Ray Kurtzweil famous notion, where the data process capacity will exceed the data itself. Well, phrased this way it sounds strange, but let us say that within the next 10 years (or 5, or 20), computing capacity (and AI? who knows), will leave us with only the marketing creativity (modeling, interpreting, designing) to worry about. Data processing will get close to real time; the ultimate behavioral/profile targeting if you wish.
    But the fundamental marketing question will remain: “What the heck else can we sell them?”.

  2. Attended the event as well and had the same impression re: the numbers. If the measures of success were as individual as the creative work, what are we really learning? Perhaps the key takeaway is to have clear metrics at the outset and have the deltas validated by a recognized third party…
    Having said that, I felt all the award winners were deserving of being singled out simply for being exceptionally creative and for clients and agencies obviously taking chances. The rest in my view, is the gravy.
    Congrats to TI…. from YPG…

Comments are closed.