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2014: What’s In Store for Data Marketers

Date: December, 2013 --

In the final days of 2013 it’s time of all of us to look ahead and formulate strategic plans for the year to come. But what is to come in 2014? Overall we predict a year that would have pleased Goldilocks: not too hot and not too cold, but just right. Here’s the what, why and how behind our prediction…

·         More & More About Big Data and Its Implications.


Awareness and concern among policy-makers in business and government of what is done with Big Data will reach a new level, but will plateau at a level which we feel will be non-threatening to the direct marketing discipline. That is, the concern level will be “just right”.

For example, this Spring, the Federal Trade Commission will hold meetings to examine the privacy implications of three of the technologies being increasingly deployed in our industry: mobile device tracking, predictive scoring, and consumer-generated and controlled health data. The FTC is aware these create risks to personal privacy as well as significant benefits. We believe that the deliberate manner in which the FTC is proceeding indicates that a healthy dialogue between officials and industry representatives is already in place. We do not believe this will result in major trauma.  

·         DM & Accelerated Growth in Big Data. 

 The awareness of the power of data, both good and bad, is spreading continuously. The DMA study concluded that only 10% of its surveyed sample of firms employ Big Data, and they outperformed competitors by 20%! Data management and analysis businesses generated a great deal of economic growth, and the same study predicts that Big Data will generate 140 to 190 thousand jobs by 2018. 

The direct marketing industry now comprises a startling 8.7% of US GDP and directly supports 1.3 million jobs, which themselves support another 9.2 million. As noted, only 10% of firms surveyed for the DMA’s Big Data study are using Big Data. More will soon do so. Big Data users and the analytics experts who deal with it are finding the direct marketing industry to be a natural homeland of opportunity for them. This should not be surprising since this industry gave birth to now commonplace practices such as credit scoring and the usage of postal codes as a selection tool!

·         The Democratization of Big Data Technology

Look for even more advances in technologies and services in data capture and analysis. Over the last ten years we have seen remarkable advances in both simplification and sophistication of marketing management tools that cross media barriers. Nearly any business of any size can deploy messages and customer service across multiple media without the assistance of a PhD in computer science. The time is ripe for the appearance of “everyman” data analysis tools that will empower ever smaller firms to be able to join the 10% who are using Big Data. 

·         The Predictive Categories Will Become Microscopic

In addition to democratization of the technology, it will become more intrusive as breakthroughs are made in ever more refined categories. Being able to predict the sales volume of a product in a given store with a cultural or religious significance, such as kosher products around Passover, will be seen as elementary. Soon, prediction of increasingly refined populations will be possible. For example, perhaps predicting which families in a given area will be traveling to visit colleges in March, where they will stay, which parent will go along, and the likelihood of an admission will become commonplace, and accurate. 

·         Content Will Be Confirmed King

The Internet is really becoming a substitute for the research library of old, especially in topics and businesses which need tomorrow’s news and the latest thinking about a business practice. With everything becoming digital that can be digital, and people who need information and inspiration using the Internet to find it, the appetite for content and those who can provide it will continue to grow. 

“Content marketing” may soon become what everyone in the market must do – provide useful and free information in large quantities to attract potential clients. The need for blogs, videos, tutorials, white papers, interactive social media, etc. will create a multitude of employment opportunities. In this new knowledge economy, it will be increasingly important for consumers of information to choose those sources producing content that isn’t purely self-serving, but from which they can derive meaningful intelligence.

·         A few closing  predictions of potentially bad news about which  we hope we are wrong –

L  Congress passes the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would impose enormous, probably unbearable, tax collection and remission duties on small businesses. The act has died two years in a row. May a wooden stake be put through it soon.

L  Continuing slow growth in the creation of jobs and the economy. So far there is no event or trend suggesting growth in anything but the digital world. And while it is true that the digital waves increasingly travel to new areas of the economy and create jobs and wealth, it is unfortunately also true that we are not educating enough people for those jobs. Too many talented people, especially among new graduates, are jobless.

L  The USPS will continue to attempt to raise postage rates, reduce the number of post offices, and experiment with new services, such as same-day delivery in selected cities.

L  Europe fails to adopt the General Data Protection Regulation. It has some anti-business elements to be sure, but on balance having uniformity of law throughout the European Community will be good for consumers and businesses within and outside the European Economic Area.