7 myths about big data dispelled

It’s time to dispel some glaring misconceptions about this form of measurement. Here’s where you have it wrong.

Big data: two words that invoke strong feelings in business and marketing. Everyone knows big data is out there and that they have it; they just don’t know what to do about it. Because of this, many rumors and misconceptions have arisen from the sands of confusion.

It’s time to bust these old myths. Here are the beliefs about big data that you need to forget:

1. Big data is accurate.

Not all data are created equal. Marketers have countless ways to collect information, especially since desktop and mobile targeting have matured. This may lead you to think your insights are correct. The reality is that your whole collection process may be flawed.

2. Big data is all about size.

Bigger is better, right? Wrong.

Just because you have many ways of collecting information doesn’t mean you’re not wasting 90 percent of your time. If you are obsessed with quantity, you may lose sight of the quality that will actually help your efforts.

3. Big data is new.

While big data has recently gained some traction, marketers have always lived in the world of data. Why are they pretending this is something the industry has just started to deal with? Your data may be coming from more places, but the process of interpreting it for actionable insights should remain the same.

4. You can analyze big data without help or partners.

You’re smart. There are a lot of things you can do on your own, but managing and interpreting a heap of data requires help. Partnerships with smart companies that specialize in insight mining will lead you down the right path. If you try to be your own data curator, you could be shooting yourself in the foot.

5. Big data is the holy grail of marketing.

Jerry McGuire once said, “Show me the money!” Today it feels like marketers are screaming, “Show me the data!” Why? Because many marketers feel data can justify any strategic decision.

While data can be helpful, it should not outshine your instincts, talent and sense of creativity. We don’t want to live in a world where every ad is so perfectly tailored that marketing loses all humanity.

6. You can only reach people through data analysis.

Marketing has gotten complex, and accurate targeting feels harder than ever. Plus, every boss wants more targeting and cleaner creative delivery. This leads marketers to believe data is the key to reaching people.

However, you can’t elicit many other reactions, like emotion and resonance, by plugging in data. It can only happen if you understand people. Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” video was an extension of the company’s “campaign for real beauty,” which was birthed from gathering consumer data on Dove’s audience. But it took creative and relatable people to make the video resonate with a real audience. Remember, people aren’t robots.

7. You can manage big data with little personal input.

Better, faster, cheaper—it’s a mantra pounded into us on a daily basis. But unless you can dedicate 24 hours a day to your job, everyone likes a smart shortcut. However, don’t think you can sift through insights just by relying on a computer and an algorithm. You need to take the time to look at your data and draw your own professional conclusions. Don’t hand over your instincts and experience to a robot.

David Zaleski is senior media producer at iMediaConnection, where a version of this article first appeared.


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