August 4, 2013

How much does Big Data weigh?

How many people are needed to lift Big Data?

big data
After all, we’re told the main reason for the announced mega-super-colossal merger of two ad giants is, um, “Big Data.”

We remain puzzled. They apparently believe (or cynically want to convince us) that it takes 130,000 employees to wrestle with all those 1s and 0s. But the last time we hefted data, it was remarkably light. A much smaller number of people could access, analyze, manipulate and draw insight from data.

Turning data into decisions has always been a job for smart, focused strategists. Adding platoons of foot soldiers won’t guarantee better thinking. There is no economy of scale in the idea business.

Even a giant international client must realize deep down they enjoy zero benefit from the 99% of that army that works on other clients’ concerns.

Furthermore, Big Data is a remarkable targeting tactic, but just a tactic, not a strategy. What can be derived from BD still depends on creativity to create a visible, differentiated, urgent brand narrative that’s emotionally true to the targeted audience. Is a staff of 130,000 more effective, creative or strategic by the numbers? Snake oil.

The supersize-jumbo-mumbo merger will be interesting to watch. An organization that attempts to represent Coke and Pepsi will have some ‘splainin’ to do. And quickly, too, before both of them walk out.