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Ann Chong

Published on

November 15, 2019


data, marketing

It is a chaotic world plagued by rapid digitization and the emergence of new ways to use the Internet – for entertainment, communication, production, innovation and the list goes on.

This digital chaos has also exponentially increased the abundance of data created, especially through the use of our mobile applications. After all, an average of 6,140 apps were released daily between the year 2016 and 2018. Imagine the sheer volume of interactions and transactions made using our phones, let alone the data being transmitted. Many of us can no longer imagine the possibility of living without our mobiles and the apps that keep our lives running.


The abundance of data may seem like a marketer’s dream, but with new privacy laws that curtain the misuse and exploitation of data, it could turn into a nightmare very quickly.

This is where data scientists and analysts come in to provide meaningful interpretation of non-personal identifiable data (non-PID). Even after analysing the data, drawing inferences and forecasting, data is merely data. At the end of the day, marketers still need to make the decision of what to do with the analysis of data collected. In fact, the most crucial decision is choosing to run with the data or go against it.


So how exactly do you decide between the two?


When data presents a safer bet

As the saying goes, old habits die hard. This rings true for the majority of consumers. These days with advanced technology and the explosion of data analytics tools and platforms, we are able to predict the behavioural patterns of consumers.


Imagine this. It’s lunch time.  You warm up your packed lunch and return to your desk to have your meal in front of your desktop while watching a specially curated YouTube playlist.


This daily ritual is recorded by YouTube’s engine. And as marketers, we use this data to increase lunch-time ad-serving to match this habit, giving our brand more exposure during this period.


Ad-serving and targeting isn’t the only area where data informs decision-making in a full-proof way. It can also be used in the content creation phase of your marketing as well. That pop tune you have on repeat could very much be a composition based entirely on the variety of music streamed online. Music producers and composers can now take a learning from the hundreds of thousands of popular melodies and mash them together to make a hit, based on the knowledge that similar pieces of music resonate well with the target audience. We have entered the age of intelligent or algorithmic compositions.

Hit or miss with data

While the thought of an 80% – 90% success rate seems enticing, there are still outliers when it comes to the usage of data to inform marketing campaigns. There have been many successful and memorable marketing campaigns that were a product of pure chance and brilliance. More often than not, these standouts have gained virality – a status that cannot be recreated or anticipated.


Remember Gangnam Style? The artist, Psy, did not anticipate the level of success he would have on YouTube creating music meant for his own market.

Needless to say, the video still remains till today one of the most viewed videos on Youtube of all time at over 2 billion views. Psy then went on to create more similar styles of music and dance videos but while his subsequent releases were also successful, none have since come close to the magnitude of his first release.


Why can’t data predict anomalies?

Even though humans are creatures of habit, the fact remains that it is impossible for us to accurately predict outcomes using the breadth of data points we’ve built over time. To this day, our powerful “central processing unit” – also known as the brain – still remains partly a mystery to doctors and scientists. What is a certainty and something we can very much keep in control, is the power to be creative and innovative.


That being said, most decision makers remain conservative with how marketing budgets are being utilised especially if there is little guarantee of widespread success. The best remedy for the limited ability to spend, is to exercise caution and rely as much as you can on data. For the few gutsy ones willing to experiment every once in a while, the best thing you can do is to monitor progress and make tweaks along the way. Whatever you choose to go with, just keep in mind that no large return ever came from taking a small risk.

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