Thursday, August 13, 2015

Further Down the Rabbit Hole [Marketing Segmentation and Big Data]

An e-blast from Sidekick [an add-on from Hubspot] just landed in my inbox with a link to this blog post. The post discusses a method to “hack” [figure out] someone’s email address when you need to reach them and have lost their address.
Read the comments for even more suggestions of how to find email addresses!
A couple years ago, my then-current employer brought in a social media consultant. As we started talking about Facebook advertising, he explained how he had helped a realtor sell a very specific property [a horse ranch], by using the segmentation criteria Facebook offers to set up ads that would only show to individuals whom: had the financial stability/income range to buy the ranch, were interested in horses, were actively looking for property, and lived within 50 miles of this property. The resulting audience was only about 5 people. However, one of the 5 bought the ranch.
Some people may be currently deleting their Facebook accounts and cleaning the cookies off of their computers as they read this, [and the examples above may have sparked some marketers to plan their next big campaign push] but the fact is segmentation and big data are our reality today.
So, how comfortable are you with the data that is available online about you?

Pew Research Survey published last year shows that sentiments are mixed:
In the commercial context, consumers are skeptical about some of the benefits of personal data sharing, but are willing to make tradeoffs in certain circumstances when their sharing of information provides access to free services.
  • 61% of adults “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with the statement: “I appreciate that online services are more efficient because of the increased access they have to my personal data.”
  • At the same time, 55% “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement: “I am willing to share some information about myself with companies in order to use online services for free.”
I’ve written before about segmentation and big data, that when used ethically, is a marketer’s gold mine.
And, I doubt anyone can contest that there is a cultural shift going on, with segmentation and big data theories just emerging as commonplace in the marketing realm. Although the concept of big data has been around for years, Steve Lohr through the New York Times called out 2012 as the year “Big Data” went mainstream - just 3 years ago.
So why is it still surprising to many of us, myself included, when a new way of cyber-stalking [my tongue-in-cheek term for this shift] comes to light? Why are we still shocked when we realize who has profiles on us and how easy it is to gain insights about us online?
Photo Credit: Jeshu John