Saturday, November 24, 2012

Just How Big is Big Data?

Big data is a term you hear bandied about a lot these days, but what exactly does it mean?
Big data refers to any collection of information that is so large, you can’t use normal means to process it. For example, I can list all of the kids in the local elementary school on a spreadsheet then use conventional sort methods to find out how many are girls, how many are born in December, how many have siblings in the same school. Easy.

Now, suppose I want to mine that same information, but with all the kids in every elementary school in the US. That would require a very, very large spreadsheet and better tools for sorting and quantifying.

In online marketing, we’re looking a big data sets connected to internet usage. We begin with a simple slice from Monetate’s new Infographic “The Retailer’s Guide to Big Data.”

 

Then we add in other types of data collected by retailers on the internet. Names, addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, email. Then we move beyond personal identifiers into personal preferences; what did a person buy, how often did they buy, did they buy the blue one more often than the red one. From there we expand to product reviews, and Likes and Pins on Pinterest, shared links, photos and blog posts. Each of these items tells us something about the person who interacted with each of these experiences.

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