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2014 will be the year of big data: Forrester

Marketers will be able to develop smarter and more relevant programs in 2014 by putting data to good use, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

Forrester?s ?Predictions 2014: Marketing Leaders Put Insights to Use? report takes a look at how data-driven marketing will evolve in the coming year. According to Forrester, big data will have a huge impact on the marketing ecosystem in 2014.

"In 2014, big data will finally be put to good use as marketers stop waiting for insights to reveal themselves and start finding actionable paths through the information," said Melissa Parrish, research director and principal analyst at Forrester, Cambridge, MA, wrote in the report. 

"This effort will affect channels across the marketing ecosystem, further breaking down the siloes that separate interactive and traditional marketing vehicles," she wrote. 

"A virtuous circle will be created as marketers develop smarter, more relevant programs across their mix by incorporating data-driven insights into their planning and then use the new robust data they get out of those programs to inform their future plans."

Data in, data out
Forrester advises marketers to take a ?data in, data out? approach to all of their marketing campaigns. Essentially, marketers should look at data-driven insights from past investments to decide future efforts.

One of the use cases for this is in social media. In 2014, marketers should promote Facebook posts with targeting and leverage the data tools to optimize social efforts.

Some vendors that offer such tools are Percolate and SocialFlow that look at sentiment and engagement. On the other hand, Kenshoo looks at ad performance and Brand Networks uses real-world signals such as weather forecasts and historical sales figures.

Forrester also predicts that more vendors will leverage affinity data for effective targeting and better merchandising on commerce sites.

Affinity data is the catalog of people?s tastes and preferences that is made up of social media "Likes," comments and shares.

Google already offers a program that uses social data to target rich ads on the Google Display Network and YouTube, but Forrester predicts this area to grow in 2014.

According to Forrester, marketers will use social data not only for purely social marketing but also to make their online display buys more effective and eventually to power more-effective TV and print advertising as well.

Smart devices
Data will also grow in large part to the expected growth in wearable devices. These devices will provide contextually-rich data that pulls insights from the customer?s home, body and physical world.

Forrester believes that as wearable consumer adoption grows, the data will grow as well, helping marketers leverage the new technology in return.

Since smart devices are new, however, marketers need to be careful about how they approach the technology and make sure to balance targeting and personalization with safety and security concerns.

Once marketers have access to such a rich data base, they will be able to create new ad products and targeting opportunities both for smartphones and other devices.

Data management platforms from vendors such as X Plus One, Adobe, Axciom, BlueKai and krux will take targeting to the next level.

"The inbound and outbound data that powers mobile marketing programs is more robust and contextual than the data from any other marketing channel," Ms. Parrish said in the report. "In 2014, both the variety and volume of data will expand as wearables and the Internet of Things extend our notion of what a mobile device is."

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York