Blogs  / October 31, 2013

Don’t be SCARED of big data!

by Rebekah Iliff

Anyone who knows me, knows I have two pro-crushes:

Steve Jurvetson


Bill Tancer

Not necessarily in that order.

I’d like to point out that I’ve never met “Stevie-J” (that’s my pet name for him) in person, but I did see him speak at a conference once: it was definitely a nerd soul connection, at least on my end. I’ve also tweeted to him a few times, only to be completely ignored – but it’s cool, I know he’s super busy and probably, no definitely, thinking about my tweets even if he’s non-responsive.

Bill, on the other hand, I have the tremendous pleasure of spending time with on a somewhat regular basis – as he has been advising AirPR even before I took my place at the proverbial table. P.S. I happen to know and adore Bill’s wife so this is all totally kosher. My gushing about “The Tancer.”

A lil’ bit about Bill (beware: you may develop a crush too!)…

#1 – DATA GEEK: As the world’s preeminent expert of online behavior, he’s spent the last 10 years analyzing a sample of 10 million Internet users and what they do online every single day. In other words, he lives and breathes “big data.” He is also the general manager of global research at Experian Hitwise.

#2 – PATTERN FREAK:  He studies 5-8 million search terms every week to reveal insights into online behavior patterns. These patterns, in turn, are used to help businesses find customers, anticipate trends and improve performance.

#3 – MEDIA CHIC: Last but not least, he’s is the author of New York Times Bestseller Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters — Unexpected Insights for Business and Life. His analysis of the online landscape has been quoted extensively in the press, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today and Business Week.

While data may be Bill’s main jam, what he finds most compelling are the stories derived from what people are searching for: The quantitative front-end to the qualitative back-end, if you will.

During his thought-provoking keynote at our San Francisco launch event last month, Bill expounded on the power (and wealth) inherent in big data.

Below are the Top 10 Insights from the talk (bolded the most important things for those of you with the world’s shortest attention spans), which revealed the naked truth of how people use the web and the advantages to be gained from understanding the shift in how we absorb and find information:

1. When we talk about big data, we’re really talking about observed behavior and the value of that behavior.

2. Big data can reveal powerful inefficiencies in the marketplace and help you capitalize on those inefficiencies.

3. If you look at how people search and then look at real life, you can compute what was going to happen in a future event based online behavior.

4.  In survey data vs. observed behavior, our observed behavior reveals a more honest snapshot of what we do, how we act and what we believe.

5. We are what we click. [SCARY!!!]

6. There is an art to PR and any artist can improve what you do with access to data.

7. There is a huge variance in how people consume media and it’s changing constantly.

8. The data is almost always right.

9. Click streams are invaluable. Be sure you know where your key demos consume media and the key demos of that media.

10. Don’t be scared of data, dive in! Check out Google Trends and Google Correlate to discover some top line findings and whet your quantitative appetite.

Want more?

Watch the 20 minute keynote in all its juicy, gory detail below!