For various reasons I have been reading quite a bit about big data lately. Based on everything I read and the experience, I have come to three conclusions:
- It does not matter anymore why something happens. It matters that it happens.
- In life there is no such thing as certainty; therefore you should just aim for high probability.
- Correlation trumps causality.
“In many cases, the deeper search for causality will take place after big data has done its work, when we specifically want to investigate the why, not just appreciate that”
Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Kenneth Cukier (Big Data)
I would say that in our industry knowing why is more of a philosophical question. Examples show that when you just work on what you have (data) and act on that, the results are better. If data shows that it works, you don´t really need to know why it works. It might be interesting from academic point-of-view, but should not matter when doing marketing for the people.
There is still aversion against data in our industry. Maybe it is because logically thinking people generally don´t gravitate towards advertising (and why our business models are so antiquated). For lack of better data, we have tolerated egomaniacs (disguised as gurus) in our industry for too long.
Advertising is not a rocket science; it is just a data science. Just like everything else in this world.
We have self-inflated view of how difficult our work is, but eventually we will be replaced by algorithm. Gut feeling is not necessarily bad if it is based on experience. I.e. if you have done thousand display campaigns you know anecdotally that call-to-action button should be red. Too often, someone just wants it green because it is his favorite color. And person with no experience could say the right thing just based on the right data.
Experience will trump stupidity.
Data will trump experience.