Big data and Marketing

The huge possibilities of big data and its potential for the advertising and marketing industry came to the fore at the maiden edition of the Brandcrunch Learning Session. Adedayo Adejobi highlights experts’ views that Nigeria must embrace data as a more scientific way to marketing

At the maiden edition of the Brandcrunch Learning Session held recently, experts reasoned that marketing practitioners in Nigeria must embrace data as a more scientific way to marketing that works and prevents marketing/customer mismatch.

As the world is going digital, big data and Artificial Intelligence is taking over virtually everything as demonstrated by the concept of internet-of-things (IoT). The use of big data for marketing purpose becomes inevitable as people leave trail of data behind in almost every action they take as every smart thing around us generates data.

The learning session with the theme: ‘Marketing in the Era of Big Data: The Changing Paradigm’, becomes necessary according to O’Lekan Babatunde, Convener and Publisher, Brandcrunch Nigeria, in order to keep the industry at the forefront of innovation, development and trends in the global marketing and allied industries.
“As a veritable platform for the exchange of ideas, learning and profitable information, we have taken it upon ourselves to engender discussions and facilitate sharing of ideas”, Babatunde explained, adding that “the Nigeria marketing industry should not be caught napping as the era of Big Data dawns on everyone”.
Opening his presentation, the lead speaker, Bayo Adekanmbi, Chief Transformation Officer, MTN fast-forwarded to 2013, painted the picture of what sales and marketing will look like with use of big data.

He said: “It‘s the year 2030, at a hypermarket in Oshodi. I am here for my shopping and I thought that because I was a returning customer, the human-sized welcoming robot at the front door might greet me by my first name. Impressive! I had learned that robots have special sensors that can swiftly detect a person‘s fingerprint and match it against a database of well over 14 million other customers in a split second for precision identification”.
According to Adekanmbi, “a data scientist, the traditional definition of the customer through psychographic and demographic classifications has changed with the advent of big data. Big Data enhances “robotic selling” which can offer me “my personalised offer of the week which included a package of ten different attractive offers that reflected my very personal preferences and up until then unexpressed need”. Such offers will be grabbed with open arms as they are made with precision though up until then, they were unexpressed.”

Other possible scenarios which are already happening in other climes as painted by the speaker is that in continuation of the “selling” the robot advises the customer on his car insurance, the weather and congratulates him on his son’s birthday. The customer is stunned and dazed as he is advised to proceed to a counter for a special offer which he finds out is on point. The bank is linked as a loan proposition is announced to customer by the customer service.
Querying if the above picture is a nano -segmentation or some sort of open-world marketing, Adekanmbi emphasised its reality as he confirmed that 35% of revenue is generated by its recommendation engine.
Driving home the reality and functionality of Big Data, he sampled the MTN IoT’s algorithmic cow rearing concepts, which embeds a SIM in the animal and makes it a browse-able destination. This is done to stem cattle rustling problem.
He said: “IoT connects all manner of end-points, unraveling a treasure trove of data. Ubiquitous networks and device proliferation enable access to a massive and growing amount of traditionally silo-ed information. Analytics and business intelligence tools empower decision makers as never before by extracting and presenting meaningful information in real time, helping us be more predictive and reactive”

Speaking on the implication of massive data, Adekanmbi noted that there is “cross-industry shifts and data disruption …every business is becoming a data business”.

According to him, “Big Data has changed a lot of things today, ability to connect to the consumers, read their minds, have insight to what they need and when they need it have taken over.”

“Facebook the largest social media in the world creates no contents; Alibaba the largest online retailer has not inventory; Uber the largest transport company in the word has no physical cars but they all relied on data and give the consumers what they need and when they need”, he noted.

The implication of this, he further noted is that the traditional definition has shifted, industry delineation is becoming blurry and the basis of competitiveness is changing at the speed of light
The Data Scientist maked it clear that the 4Vs of Big Data is changing the age-old 4Ps of marketing – Product, placement, promotion and price. Instead, data centric •Personalisation; •Participation; •Peer 2 Peer and •Predictive Modeling are taking over.

As the data era dawns on Nigeria and the advertising industry, the speaker pointed out that the future of advertising lies in 4’s. These 4’s are: Scientists – Apply advance approach to collate and analyse patterns of the behavior from data sources, and drive targeted strategies; Strategists – create aligned category, brand and customer engagement strategies focused on the customer experience and guided by the brand purpose; Story Builders –shape and evolve compelling stories and content to engage external and internal customers , underpinned by the key insights from culture and data analysis; Socialisers – socialise new experiences ideas and content externally and internally and evolve through continuous two-way conversations.

In some climes, robotic creativity and algorithm media planning are already being deployed in the media and marketing space with companies like Samsung already cloud sourcing its creative briefs. For instance, has over 350,000 creatives ready take on briefs from any part of the world. Eyeka, a cloud company and its likes are taking businesses away from brick and mortal agencies.

Opening his presentation on the same theme but drilling it further down to “The Human face of big data”, Steve Babaeko submitted that data is the new oil of the world today. In line with the Bayo’s paper, he noted that “the world is generating massive data every second; we leave data trails every day.” According to Babaeko, by 2020, data volume will be 40 Zeta byte, all the grains of sand in the world multiplied by 75! Quite alarming!

Drilling it down to the marketing industry, Babaeko explained that the Big Data via small data, affects the marketing sector through analytics, Attributing and Algorithms. He however, noted that the consumers’ behavior is changing, it is therefore important for the marketers and advertising agencies to know the consumers and connect to their eco-system.

So Babaeko’s posers to the advertising industry include – Do we know today’s consumers?; Are we connected to the new eco-system or how connected are we? When are we going to pivot? According to him what used to be popular may no longer be relevant; practitioners in the marketing communications industry need to extend and explore the value chain in content and platform to be relevant to a more contemporary people/market. He uses the example of Fracis Odega, who has recorded great movies but remains largely unsung. He was taken up by former Etisalat, connected to the new digital eco-system and he became an instant star.

Also critical to the speaker is the issue of “retooling our people to prepare for the switch over”, as a way to survive what he describes as “tech invasion” or “Techpocalypse”. As part of the retooling, he reckons a situation in which scientists, engineers, tech guys will be employed to work in agencies. According to him, practitioners are used to silos, this he said, explains the widening knowledge gap between the client and agency, therefore, the onus is on us to keep catching up and be more curious.

In the discussion session, the moderator, Emilia Asim-Ita, Senior Consultant, Strategy & External Relations, ThistlePraxis Consulting, taking off from the observable challenges of big data of its unsavoury effects on people especially in jobs, people are vulnerable to lose their jobs because machines are taking over, Artificial Intelligence is taking over! She challenges the speakers.

In the speakers’ reactions to Emilia’s call for caution, Babaeko noted that Big Data has answered a lot of questions as to what is to be done in the area of Medical, Engineering, Agriculture, Banking and Social lives but is it is also important to note that there are aspects that call for concern. Babaeko said as human beings we must take control.

Still playing the devil’s advocate, Emilia also pointed out that there are tendencies that cyber security and consumer security are at risk; consumers are afraid to lose their privacy ignited some reactions.

Reacting to the issue of privacy and cyber security, the lead speaker explained: “Every scientific design has its positive and negative aspects, but there is general responsibility and ethics required by people to curtail it and it is important to give adequate information to consumers on what is been done with their data, why it is important? so as to feel secured and inclusive”. According to him, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is like a demon, man must be in control.”

A consumer protection advocate and a discussant at the event, Mrs. Sola Salako-Ajulo, observed that there is disconnect between consumer and service providers or marketers. She said: “Customers service people feel customers are left with no option but to accept what they are given”. However, drawing from the speakers’ presentations, Shola was excited that Big Data is taking over because it’s now speaking to the needs of consumers. She maintained that “Either educated or not, a consumer needs something that can speak to his needs”, but she cautioned: “The problem with big data is eroding on consumers’ privacy because there is no structure to protect consumers’ privacy.”

CEO, CopyCoach, another discussant, Boye Adefila also argued that adaptability is important in this era to stay in tune with technological developments including Big Data related issues. Though, not a techie expert but he noted passionately that “customers’ service is being sacrificed and there is a gap between Technology and Customer service”, He however called for moderation and ethics to guide the customer service functions even in the big data era.

CEO, Lucent, also a discussant, Mr. Lampe Omoyele, while responding to the common place insinuation on the unavailability of data to work with in the country, differed from that position, claiming instead that “there is lot of data in Nigeria but the issue is how to interpret and integrate it appropriately and derive suitable insights. According to him, research companies must know that data interpretation is essential in order to derive insight to what consumer needs.”

The faculty and the panel however agreed that there is a thin line between security and privacy. They posited: “Do you release your data for security planning and cover or hold unto it and be vulnerable? Yes, there will be job losses but one can convert through skill building across industries/professions. The challenge to all is what you are doing to retool so that you can be relevant because new jobs will also be created, keep yourself relevant.” They also noted that there will always be gaps but human beings will survive.

The Brandcrunch Session which held under a convivial atmosphere at prestigious Renaissance Hotel, GRA Ikeja, saw a select high profile mix of audience that cut across industries – marketing, engineering, data scientists, social commentators among others, passionately listening through the entire presentations by the high profile faculty and discussants.

The highly interactive learning session brought to the fore, the prospects of Big Data for humans’ lives and businesses; the fears and the way forward with intelligent comments and questions by highly discerning audience.

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