Posts Tagged Big Data

Book Review: Dataclysm

Posted by on Sunday, 31 August, 2014

DataclysmDid you hear? Dating site, OKCupid has lied to you; just to see what happens. This headline hit just days after Facebook tried publishing user behavior research in an academic journal. What the journalists seem to have missed was that OKCupid’s co-founder and President Christian Rudder wrote the blog post about some of their findings just before his book, Dataclysm was released. I actually suspect Christian wrote the blog post because of huge backlash Facebook received. After all, a blog post worth of user behavior data is easier to stomach than an entire book.

So what’s Dataclysm like?

It’s an informative, educational look at people and what they do. Is it a scandalous expose? Not really. Will you be surprised by the results? Probably.

Christian takes what comes across as a math nerd’s hobby and turns it into an insightful profile. He has access to gigabytes of offered and acquired data. I know I wouldn’t be able to resist.

I suspect this book has two aims. One, to show what data is available for analysis, and two, to research some behaviors that are difficult to accurately measure. For instance, do men search for gay porn more in liberal states? By the way, no they don’t. Search rates are equal across the country.

Other little snippets are reported from data that extends to Google, Twitter, a job site and more. Academic research also supplements the OKCupid sample, giving a more robust story than just that from a dating site. Some snippets are useful for marketers, such as the fact that people are more likely to reword a Tweet than use abbreviations. However, most of the data is general and an interesting anthropological view.

Christian’s story telling tends to be more pop sociology with simplified English. He does drop just enough research terminology to keep the data nerds happy, but always with translations. Chapter titles like, “Death by a Thousand Mehs” helps grab those who detest math.

The book could be tightened a little with some setting the scene paragraphs being dropped. I do especially like the “end of book philosophical chapter”* that explains how web data analysis is here and should be useful for consumers, but of course needs to be treated cautiously. He quotes the Target case where their data modeling was so accurate they predicted a pregnancy before the woman told her family. Unfortunately the woman was a teen. He’s right though, data analysis is here and really we should embrace it.

Who Is Dataclysm For?

Dataclysm is more of a sociology book than a marketing book. If you’re a marketer wanting to understand the applications of big data, then definitely read this. It won’t help a marketer do their job better. If you’re worried about online privacy and want to understand what is recorded, then definitely read this book. Finally, if you’re just a curious nerd, buy it. My copy was an unedited proof courtesy of NetGalley, without the graph formatting. I now have to wait until it’s released next week to buy a full copy.

My 2014 Marketing Wishlist

Posted by on Sunday, 15 December, 2013

Marketing WishlistIt’s that time of year again. Kids are writing Santa lists. Adults are reflecting on the past year and planning for the next.

Here’s my 2014 marketing wishlist.

1. Integrated marketing comes back.

We talk about bringing down silos but then create them. Is it a social media campaign, a direct mail or event? Our audiences don’t look at it this way, so why should we? Let’s plan marketing campaigns with SEO, social media, print, and event tactics. Campaign performance will increase and you may even have fun dabbling in new areas.

2. Accept mobile is just par for the course.

OK, it’s another rant but we all know the stats about mobile usage outpacing desktop. When you’re planning any online campaigns ensure the sites are responsive design. That’s all. It is that easy. Add in location and apps, if you want, but they are just tactics and tools. The moment we stop declaring it the next big thing, marketers will stop being scared of it and we might catch up to our audiences’ usage behaviors.

3. Accept nothing dies, it just evolves.

Video killed the radio star? Well, the internet brought them back. Life is a constant evolution, embrace it. When your favorite marketing tool goes out of favor, find a new one or tweak your product. This is a marketing truth that really excites me. I can’t wait to see what new toys we’ll get to play with.

4. Millennials or any generation segmenting.

This was a topic in 2008 when I started grad school. By the time I graduated, two years later, it was passé. Can you really say all people born in 1983 behave the same? Are you the same as your age peers? Did you get married at the same time? Buy a new car? How many jobs have you had? Have they done the same? No, so let’s move on and look at personas and lifestyle stages. We have the technology and research to appeal to our audiences and sub-audiences without a cookie cutter approach. Try it, the results will impress you.

5. Big data.

In 1999 I was a new retail manager helping our tech marketing team with some launch promotions. We were a new ISP with a big budget. If a campaign didn’t produce sign-ups we called it branding. Within a year the parent company layer off the entire team and transferred sales to the call center. We didn’t track anything or look at the data. Big mistake. Still today too many marketers are scared of numbers and adding the word Big to data isn’t helping. Jump in to a spreadsheet and start small. It needn’t be complex data, everyone can understand the number of retweets per month over a year.

6. The end of B2B and B2C.

This is another silo that’s starting to fall – woohoo! As with generation segmenting, it’s time to properly look at your audience. I know you’re saying the buying cycle isn’t the same for B2B. The decision maker may not be the end user. How is that different from B2C? Kids have a big say in car and holiday purchases, but can’t hand over the cash. B2B audiences are people too. Find what works best for your audience. Make it colorful, make it fun, make it personal.

What’s on your marketing wishlist? Let me know in the comments.

How to find keywords now that Google won’t share

Posted by on Monday, 30 September, 2013

google-analyticsI was part-way through writing instructions for how to find keywords on Google’s Webmaster tools. It was to be posted on Wednesday.

Then, this afternoon I found this great article by Search Engine Watch. Not only does it give you ten ways to find keywords, it explains Google’s decision to suppress ALL of them. I decided to just link to the article because it describes the situation and solutions better than I can.

A client call got in the way. Then a friend was in my neighborhood and invited me to happy hour.

By the time I got back to my computer there was a new announcement: Google has removed all keyword data from Google Webmaster Tools. I swore.

It may be a bug. Google’s not saying anything, but that means nothing.

So making a plan C out of a plan B, the Search Engine Watch article is still a great article. Just with an extra keyword source.

The ones to use are:

  1. Learn from Avinash Kaushik
  2. Look at Non-Google Keywords
  3. Analyze On-Site Searches
  4. Use Google AdWords
  5. Use Search Volume Tools
  6. Look at Historical Data
  7. Use Google Trends

For more detail on each of these, here’s another link to the Search Engine Watch article.

PS, anyone want a half-written, now potentially useless, post on how to find keywords using Google’s Webmaster Tools?


Big Data is the Starbucks of Analytics

Posted by on Monday, 8 July, 2013

Starbucks of AnalyticsIf you’ve ever been to Starbucks with me you’d know I never drink their espresso. I was introduced to coffee in Melbourne, where there are independent roasters all over the city. However, even with espresso, Starbucks has its place. It has been great in introducing people to espresso. Many of these people then go on to discover the intricate flavors of espresso. So, it’s a starting point.

Big Data is the same. Marketers have been collecting data and analyzing it since the 18th century. This is the same data and analysis that people are now scrambling to attend conferences on and add their expertise of to their LinkedIn profiles.

We’ve always needed data to measure campaign effectiveness, but this was often overlooked. Marketers are creative people; numbers are scary. Gut feel was often considered enough evidence.

Thanks to the concept of Big Data, data analysis is finally getting the recognition and attention it deserves. The nerdy creatives (like me) can finally incorporate measurement into campaigns without getting weird looks from our colleagues. Our clients and bosses will actually appreciate the campaign efficiencies that’ll come from it. After all, it’s hard to argue with the data.

So instead of mouthing off about Big Data being the latest buzz term, encourage your number-phobic colleagues to learn it.