Notice anything different about your social media news feed and online advertising since Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Well, if you shopped for anything online this past week or two but didn’t buy, you can expect to see it reflected back at you for the immediate future.
Shop for a fire pit this holiday? Expect that item to continually pop up on your page, particularly while the weather supports the best time to buy. What about electronics? Well, as the string of bowl games and big games gets closer, expect to see that TV figure prominently in your ad box. Or if you are comparing new smartphones, expect all brands to make a concerted push for your business. And this is a good thing. Using Big Data analysis, the Internet and social media advertisers are attempting to remind you of something you were interested in and may still be interested in. Instead of wasting their time and your time showing you something entirely outside your “want or need zone” you get pics and adverts of stuff you might actually buy.
This is just one of the ways in which data collected online is almost immediately crunched and repurposed to better serve both retailers and consumers. Both? Yes. Here’s why…
The Internet combines the best and the worst of big box shopping. It probably has what you really want to buy, but it also contains an endless amount of crap you have to wade through to find what you are looking for. Before the current capabilities of data science, you got a steady stream of ads based on aggregated data. If you fit a certain demographic you got “those ads.” But, because of the capabilities of big data, your online time is not as littered with pointless distractions. For instance, if you have been shopping for a table saw or a box set of your favorite TV program, that’s what retailers want to show you. They know that hitting you with a knitting kit or a soccer goal might be a waste of time regardless of whether or not you “have kids.”
So, yes, as advertising goes, the tech leaps enjoyed by big data do lead to both a better online experience and a more productive advertising environment for retailers who would rather have your business than waste your time.
David A. Steinberg is the CEO of Zeta Global