Data Variety – The Spice of Life


Jim Sterne

Marketers are on the brink of a deluge of data sources that could prove to be extremely useful in future digital marketing strategies.

Would you freely give your biometric data to a vendor in response to an online advertisement? I would. But first, a word about big data.

I’m all for volume and velocity. In fact, velocity gives us a whole new way to think about data: time series. But for my money, variety is the spice of life in big data that can unlock more doors than ever.

From static data (who, what, where) to transactional (when and how much) to behavioral data (they didwhat??) to the attitudinal (and how did that make you feel?), we have done our best to keep up. But we are on the verge of an avalanche of data types that might not seem germane at the moment, but will prove to be useful.

Examples? Social media is the easy target. What people are commenting about, when, and where has been around for a while. That’s just par for the course. But now you can track how often your logo shows up in their photos.

Want to know what people are eating, drinking, and wearing when they mention your product or simply include it in the background of their selfie? Ditto Labs can analyze photos from Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., and find tiny, obscured, and upside-down logos in cluttered pictures.

You can filter by location, date, platform, and custom tags and sort by recency, popularity, smiles, groups, and logo size to dig deeper. Correlate that with the profiles of the tweeters, instagrammers, and tumblrs and you can build real-life personas, and then see who they follow to determine whom you should pay to be your celebrity spokesperson. Depending on which beer you sell, you might want to reach out to a different singer.


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Other Data You Might Want to Integrate

This is where your imagination can run free. Who knows what correlations you might make by combining the information from some of these?

  • The weather
  • US Census data
  • Japan Census data
  • Health and Retirement Study
  • Federal Reserve economic data
  • The entire Internet for the past seven years
  • 125 years of public health data
  • Consumer complaints about financial product and services
  • Product safety recalls from the Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Franchise failures by brand
  • Top 30 Earning Websites
  • Car sales data
  • Yahoo Search Marketing Advertiser Bidding Data
  • American Time Use Survey
  • Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
  • Wage statistics for the U.S.
  • City of Chicago building permits from 2006 to the present
  • Age, race, income, commute time to work, home value, veteran status
  • Or how about… all of Wikipedia?

But Wait, There’s More

Mobile data is perhaps most revealing of all. Where are you right now? At work? Interesting. In your car? Headed where? Oh, the doctor’s office, eh? Hmmm.

Wouldn’t wearable data be wondrous? You could target your customers when they were hot, thirsty, and sleep deprived.

And don’t stop there – here comes the Internet of Things with all its associated data. My thermostat, my toaster, my shoes, my dog, and that chocolate bar I bought at lunch all have secrets to reveal.

In the end, I will pay good money to have an app that protects me from myself. It won’t let me buy anything seen in a targeted ad for 24 hours. Then, if I still want it, fine.

This app will negotiate on my behalf. I want the latest sports scores and the app will know to only offer up what city I’m in, in exchange.

I want a discount on my morning coffee? My app knows to include my gender and age.

I want loyalty points for my coffee? Well, then the app provides my customer number.

I want to test drive the latest Tesla for the weekend? My app will provide full GPS and speed data along with blood-alcohol information and heart rate data.

As the old joke goes, we’ve established what I am, now we’re just negotiating.