Big-Data-shutterstock_135603719You may be surprised to learn that, as of 2012, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day; that is as exactly a gigantic number as it sounds. And that number will probably double by 2015. A typical office worker will produce around 5,000 megabytes of data a day, from emails to movie downloads, and that data says a lot about you.

While anonymity is a very real concern, especially online, every piece of data collected about you can be used to help advertisers successfully target potential customers with products and services you actually want. And not just now, they can tell what you’ll want next week. Even next month, or next year. They may not know your name, or your address, but they do know your favourite colour and when you’re likely to next need a haircut.

You may be asking yourself how, and it’s all thanks to big data.

What is big data?

Data is collected into data sets, a series of variables and values in a table that are put together to create a source of information about a related subject. Big data is essentially a collection of data sets that are so large they become difficult for traditional data processing applications to analyse. The information on offer is tremendous, but analysing that data is challenging and technology is constantly being developed to handle the ever increasing size of big data.

What can my business do with big data?

Personal information is readily available online, data brokers already have access to personal data like names, addresses or credit card details, and that information is sold on for marketing purposes, to help your business determine which ads would work for which customers. But big data goes a step further. By analysing data sets from sites such as Facebook, which holds information on the products potential customers have liked, to the dataset of a local hair salon and who made an appointment when, big data can help advertisers narrow down their targeting to produce incredibly relevant adverts to their potential customers. If you start seeing adverts for your local salon just at the time you’d normally go in for a trim, then you know big data has reached its full potential.

What that means for your business

Research shows that personalisation can deliver up to eight times the ROI on marketing spend, and increase sales by around 10%. If that’s not incentive enough to use big data to successfully target your customers then perhaps nothing will convince you. Or course, it’s important to ask the right questions. So take the time to determine what answers you’re looking for before you dive right in. Make sure that the information you’re funnelling to staff is simple, understandable and useable – just because big data is overwhelming doesn’t mean that the results need to be.
Best of all though, big data could also mean the reduction of spam, and who’s not for that? Through successful targeting your ads will no longer appear to those individuals not interested in your products, cutting down on the spam they receive and increasing your click-through rate, as every customer your ad hits should have an interest.