The Marketing Power of Real-Time Analytics

We are a now generation. We don’t like waiting for anything, whether it’s our microwave dinner to finish, the red light to change, or our YouTube videos to buffer. Not surprisingly, this impatience translates easily from our personal lives right into our professional lives. What’s true at home is just as common in the office. For example, with smartphones and cloud computing, we expect to be able to communicate with anyone and access information from anywhere. Technology has increased our collaborative abilities, leading to quicker turnaround times, shorter deadlines and heightened expectations.

With business, speed can mean everything. Not in the sense of rushing projects, which could lead to sloppy work, but being reactive to the needs of customers. If you can quickly ascertain what they’re looking for, and provide it first, you’ll find yourself well ahead of the competition. It’s because of this that big data has become such a popular and rapidly growing trend. The wealth of information created everyday can help businesses learn important insights and make decisions to improve future outcomes. However, while all this information is available, businesses often struggle to manage or process it in a timely matter in order for it to be relevant. In such a fast-paced world, how can businesses find the right piece of information before they lose their short window of opportunity?

Fortunately, improvements in technology and computing capabilities offer a solution. The Apache Spark was developed by UC Berkeley’s AMPLab in 2009, and is an open source cluster computer framework built for fast and flexible large-scale data analytics. Its processing power is well suited to handle real-time analytics, providing data scientists with the ability to perform tasks much quicker. Because quicker analysis of big data is so important to business, companies like Qubole offer Spark as a Service, in order to make the Apache framework easier and faster to deploy. Spark will benefit elements like real-time queries, social media analytics and machine learning.

While big data analytics are of interest to all functions of business, marketers have taken an increased interest in their possibilities. The ability to quickly learn about customers, or potential customers, is highly coveted. However, one of the biggest roadblocks that stopped marketers from collecting and making use of this data was a lack of tracking capabilities and analytical tools. But as mentioned before, the introduction of Spark overcomes this dilemma.

One area where marketers are already taking advantage of real-time analytics is social media. Marketers are looking to quickly understand overall sentiment about their brands or products, and look for clues in order to create more positive and engaging content. Real-time analytics help marketers respond promptly to comments, complaints and questions on the various social media platforms. The Oreo ad that went viral during the Superbowl is a perfect example of the execution that accompanies this approach. Oreo was able to quickly gauge the overall sentiment of people on social media, who were bored and upset from the power outage. A well-placed ad at just the right time became a social success.

However, real-time analytics are just as useful for data collection outside of social media. Having access to more data and quicker processing power is helping marketers make on-the-fly changes to marketing plans and developing more targeted marketing initiatives. Some marketers are also using real-time data for strategic business decisions, like product development.

Real-time analytics can also help marketers use real-time bidding (RTB) to create, buy and serve digital ads that are more customized and dynamic. Having on the spot information allows marketers to create more value for their customers. With marketing operations, businesses can tell how effective their strategies are and how well they’re optimizing all of their resources, like people, budgets, technologies and content. Real-time analytics give businesses an instant edge in improving marketing performance and reducing costs.

Marketers would be wise to take advantage of services like Spark in order to increase their analytical abilities. Having a pulse on brand sentiment, and the ability to react quickly, will allow marketers to be much more effective at their jobs. Their efforts will be more targeted and ultimately more successful.