The concept of big data has been trending in the tech community for a couple of years now and is just beginning to reach people who aren’t database, datacenter or math geeks. In 2013, we’re predicting it’s going to make big waves in PR and marketing so if you don’t know about big data, or haven’t yet embraced its power, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.
What is big data?
There’s a sea of data being created every second. If you need a concrete example, there are approximately 340 million tweets on Twitter each and every day. Each of those tweets contains words, hashtags, and handles and shared URLs that are themselves pieces of data. In the most basic sense, big data is massive amounts of information, digested in real-time and analyzed after the fact.
Why will big data impact PR and marketing?
Advanced marketers and PR professionals are already leveraging big data. You may recall Target using analytics to identify which customers were gearing up to be parents and the flurry of stories about data analysis being the secret to President Obama’s victory. Big data on the PR side though is going beyond what’s considered traditional media monitoring (looking for mentions of your brand, competitors or issues) into mining social and traditional media sources for trends and even predicting future outcomes.
What Big Data Can Tell PR Professionals
Here at MediaMiser we use back-end technology from Hadoop to painlessly accumulate buckets of data from newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and many other sources. Not only do we capture content, but we also capture the all important metadata that goes along with this content like journalist name, publication, location and date. We also add metadata like sentiment, prominence and circulation.
Having this wealth of virtually real-time information enables us to do deep analysis on a wide range of low-cost data which can reveal surprising data points like top influencers and regional-based sentiment that could not only shape future programs but can provide bottom-line value to their organizations. It’s more cost-effective as a data source than traditional tools like surveys or focus groups and can often provide more timely data.
Looking In to the Big Data Crystal Ball
At the very bleeding edge is the use of sophisticated algorithms to build prediction models based on past data giving a ‘crystal-ball’ view of future coverage. On Wall Street, traders have even developed algorithms that trigger trading action based on tweets!
While it’s doubtful that PR pitching would become automated like trading, there is a massive opportunity for big data mining in the communications industry. Starting in 2013 and beyond, success or failure of programs will become increasingly dependent on advanced analysis and research. Are you ready for the data revolution?