Integrated marketing: rethink what you know about big data


Integrated marketing is not a mere discipline, or an approach to marketing. It's a description of the mindset necessary for marketers to rise to the challenges of empowered customers, regulatory change and technological evolution that includes big data.

Michael Steinhart is Executive Editor at

Michael Steinhart, Executive Editor at

That was a recurring theme in this week's Integrated Marketing Week conference by the DMA in New York, where multiple speakers affirmed the need for marketers to change their mindset in order to meet our collective need to be integrated marketers.

I had the privilege to attend the event and I'm pleased to have permission to share some insights in this terrific blog post by Michael Steinhart at


Big data is surrounded by so much hype and so many v-words that marketing professionals don't trust it and don't understand how valuable it is to their efforts. That's the conclusion drawn by Forrester analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo, who writes about it in her blog and spoke about it at the Integrated Marketing Week conference in New York this week.

Fatemeh Khatibloo, Senior Analyst at Forrester, serves customer insights professionals.

Fatemeh Khatibloo, Senior Analyst at Forrester

Marketers can take some comfort in the fact that consumers are equally confused, she said. Their primary question should be "How can big data help me delight my customers?"

"Big data is not a technology, not a platform, not a project, and not an end goal," she said. "The three v's don't help define anything. Don't get Hadooped!" Instead, marketers should adopt the concept that "Big data is the practices and technologies that close the gap between the data available and a company's ability to turn it into business insight."

It's not going to be tidy or neat, she added, but the huge amounts of data available are making an "infinite" number of combinations possible.

As examples, she cited the insight electronics manufacturers could glean from knowing whether customers use rechargeable or disposable batteries, and the value in knowing whether new parents have a single baby or twins.

Companies that are "killing it" in this area include Progressive auto insurance, with its Snapshot usage-based rates; Clorox bleach, which boosted profits significantly by increasing shipments to areas affected by flu outbreaks; and British Airways, which updates flight attendants' mobile devices with key information about passengers.

Stop snooping
This last example naturally led into a discussion of customer privacy, which is an area fraught with potential danger. Khatibloo cited examples such as Target's outing of a pregnant teen and the inaccuracies found in Google's flu trend information as illustrative of how badly big data can run a company's marketing efforts off-track.

"Be smart, consider context, and be responsible," she said.

Rule of three
To succeed with big-data analytics, marketers need to keep three ideas in mind:

  • The context of the customer during the moment of engagement, which spells the difference between Disney's MagicBands and Target's faux pas
  • The company culture around analytics -- in other words, no more hoarding data and no more IT/business chasm. Marketing and the CIO must sit down together
  • Analytics talent, which should break out into scientists who interrogate the data, engineers who manage the architecture, and stewards who ensure compliance

On the subject of privacy, Khatibloo added that consumer demand is the only factor that will drive change in the industry. She cited the recent FTC guidelines here, and the European Union's "Right to be Forgotten" legislation, as two examples of government intervention in consumer privacy protection that will not produce any significant results. (We've reached roughly the same conclusions in our conversations on FTC Pushes Congress to Act on Data Brokers and EU Court to Google: Forget It.)

What do you think, members? Do Khatibloo's ideas align with the state of affairs at your company? Share your experiences below.


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - a Digital Marketing Principal here at SAS focused on Content Strategy. I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome college-age kids, volunteering for the Boy Scouts, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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