I had the pleasure of speaking to Ed Shub, a data expert and Email Marketing Director at The Lifetime Value Company, about big data. I asked him questions related to the definition of big data, big data challenges and benefits, and ensuring quality, accuracy, and security. You can read an excerpt of his compiled responses below.
Big data is terminology people use when the amount of data is too much for them to comprehend. Big data can be acquired in a number of ways: through surveys, stored cookies on a website, data association through similar usernames, public information sources, and even through IP address tracking. For example, in a previous role, I was able to target customers who may be migraine sufferers by tracking which websites they visited.
A lot of people are paranoid about companies getting a hold of their data but the reality is, everything you do online is being tracked, and it’s unavoidable. Companies having access to your data isn’t inherently bad. The more information that a company has about their customers, the more personalized they can make their experiences. When you’ve been searching for hair care and you see an ad for a haircare brand that you’re interested in, the ad is helpful. Imagine that you really want a shirt and you can’t afford it but it goes on sell and you find out through a targeted ad, that would be a good thing. Without targeted ads, you risk seeing spam ads.
People who do illegal things with data are the problem, data collection and usage are not inherently wrong. For advertisers, using data to market to specific targets can get the right people to see the right things. How the data is used is important! People’s perception of how you’re using their data matters. For example, Target identified people were pregnant through their buying habits, but they had to stop because of bad PR. There was nothing wrong with what they did with the data, but because of public perception, it was labeled as wrong.
The difficulty with data is that you can’t always tell if you’re talking to the same person. People can share the same email, IP address, phone number, etc with a spouse, family member, or roommate. Someone could have just Googled something out of curiosity, not because it’s something they needed. But you have to use stereotypes to identify patterns in the data. You can never be sure, but you have to assume something based on their actions, stereotypes may be right only 90% of the time but that’s pretty good.