A world increasingly run on technology has beget a data revolution. Now it’s a race to garner it, understand it, organize it and, most importantly, leverage it more effectively than your competitors.
Because data is everything now that it’s available to everyone. But rather than level the playing field, it’s led to a monopolization of data between a select few tech giants: Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, and Facebook.
Here are just a few earth-shattering stats about these companies and their control over the tech industry from the shadows:
- “They collectively racked up over $25 billion in net profit in the first quarter of 2017.”
- “Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America.”
- “Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year.”
So what’s their secret? Great timing? Great ideas?
It’s a little bit of everything. However, a huge reason they’ve been able to succeed is because of their ability to effectively leverage data and utilize algorithms to their advantage. They monopolized their markets because of how reliable they are, either as a search engine, online marketplace, or advertising platform, as a result of their data leveraging of consumer behavior.
They have recognized what brands are still coming to terms with and understanding:
“Virtually every activity creates a digital trace — more raw material for the data distilleries.”
This is where the data revolution has flourished. With so much information available, brands are now more inclined to learn more about their audience. Platforms and networks have been created specifically to track customer behavior, interests, and tendencies, in order to mimic what the average journey looks like.
Finding out how your customer gets from A to B is a significant step in the process of getting to know your buyer.
The more likely they are to nail down that down, the more likely they are to predict where their customer is going to be accessing the website, what they’re going to buy, what’s going to trigger them to buy, and how likely they are to buy on the first visit. Data from the customer journey also allows brands to more effectively target their audience through advertising on certain channels where their potential buyer is more likely to buy.
Increasingly, more methods of data extraction is leading to the evolution of artificial intelligence techniques that can extract even more value from data.
Another key factor of data availability isn’t just the ability to look into yourself and your customer, but to look at your competitors as well. You essentially get, in the case of larger brands, a “‘God’s eye view’ of activities in their own markets and beyond. See when a new product or service gains traction, allowing them to copy it or simply buy the upstart before it becomes too great a threat.”
For brands that aren’t multi-billion dollar companies, however, inquiring into the competitive environment through data utilization can still be done. Owning the right software or using the right platform can provide a brand with insight into what potential customers are buying from the competition, what they’re sharing, and what they’re searching for.
Overall, the more data, the more transparency brands have. “With data there are extra network effects. By collecting more data, a firm has more scope to improve its products, which attracts more users, generating even more data, and so on.”
And there’s simply no limit to it. In fact, it’s only going to continue growing as devices become more readily available and accessible. Competition between measurement platforms to outdo each other will result in the creation of more transparent metrics. When one comes out with what they think is the end-all, be-all stat brands crave, believe they have a competitor that has noticed and is looking to beat that.
Their competition is a brand’s gain. The abundance and availability of data has led to an arms race between brands and are now locked in a constant fight to clear the opaque glass separating them from their customer’s mind.
Reaching the customer in a creative, persuasive enough way to convince them to part with their money and choose you as their recipient has always been the goal of selling. However, life in the data revolution has opened up far more avenues to reach them, and now any brand can have those same numbers.
It’s taken a lot of the guess work out of persuasion (So no more focus groups, crowdsourcing, surveys, and direct interviews), but it’s also led to constant, real-time monitoring that forces brands to have quick turnaround times, especially when it comes to social media campaigns.
Think about it: No brand was expected to take advantage of topical events. Now they’re expected to follow where the numbers go. Social media specifically has created an environment where brands have no choice but to constantly monitor and moderate. It’s in the same vein as a journalist, where they’re constantly on-the-clock; ready to work 24 hours a day and react to the event all eyes are currently on.
It’s led to more quick thinking and reactionary, less well-thought out creatives, but also more opportunities. Hopping on a trend where data indicates millions of people are taking part in a conversation can launch a brand to historic heights.
As a brand manager, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take advantage of these sorts of opportunities. Because if you don’t, a competitor certainly will. It should always be assumed that your great ideas are being matched by a competitor, just so you can always try to be a step ahead.
Leveraging these opportunities is only possible in the data revolution. While this new era is forcing marketers to think and act quicker, it’s also leading to more accurate predictions and a closer connection between the buyer and seller. The catch, however, as we’ve explained throughout, is that your competition is right there on your heels since they have similar access.
Then it comes down to your data interpretations, how you’re going to use it in terms of your creatives and targeting, and your moderation. Data can get you out of the starting gate and down the home stretch, but finishing is on your agency to deliver the variables that’s going to separate you from your competition.
So the least you can do is to enter the playing field and get level with your competition, because they’re leveraging data to get closer with their customers; learning their behaviors, interests, journeys, tendencies, and preferences. At least that’s what you should be assuming.