The internet has had a profound effect on many aspects of our lives. The internet is the largest source of big data. Yet it is only relatively recently that digital data has become important to digital marketers. Why has this taken so long and why is digital data so important?
Why is it only now that digital data has become key to marketers? So why did this not happen 15 years ago?
15 years ago the Nasdaq crashed as digital expectations fell back to Earth. The internet was fairly well developed, certainly a lot of money had been invested in it. Yet data was not at the core of digital as it is now. Yahoo used to throw away all its web tracking data each day. Businesses were in “build it and they will come” mode. Marketers were more focused on getting their campaigns out rather than optimising them through the use of data. As the industry matured priorities changed and now data is at the heart of digital optimisation.
For many brands their digital spend has overtaken their offline spend. Even for a traditional retailer like John Lewis a third of their total sales are now online. The centre of gravity is switching to online. Businesses that invested a lot of money in offline CRM systems now find that these systems are not really fit for purpose in the new digital age. CRM is giving way to customer experience management and real-time personalisation.
Digital is changing the data landscape. But data is also changing the digital world. When I started working with marketing data the challenge was to do more with less. We would squeeze the data until it squeaked to gain insight from the few scraps of data we had. We would torture the data until it gave up its secrets. Now the challenge is data over-load. There is simply too much data and it is often difficult to see the wood from the trees. We now do have to do less with more.