Jerelle Gainey | CTO, unified.agency
Do you know what a zettabyte is?
Don’t feel bad if you don’t; it’s not a data size marketers have had to worry about too much yet. But, that’s about to change, and you’re going to need to know that a zettabyte is 1000 exabytes. Or one million petabytes. That’s one billion terabytes and one trillion gigabytes. According to telecommunications giant Ericcson, connected Internet of Things sensors and devices will produce 400 zettabytes of data next year.
Knowing what to do with all that information will be a major factor in determining the success of advertising campaigns. Agencies can expect their consultative roles to change dramatically as client companies increasingly lean on them to increase the customization of their marketing efforts using this intelligence. The best way for agencies to assist their clients to keep up and understand how to leverage insights from this galaxy of data is going to necessitate changes to staffing, tools and strategy.
The new IoT Marketing Strategist
Agencies are going to need a person, or team of people, to understand all the different signals coming from IoT devices and have the ability to then harness those insights to fine tune marketing and other channels. Nobody knows exactly what this specialization will be called, but this multidisciplinary specialty will incorporate comprehensive knowledge from existing media and technology groups.
This is likely going to be a difficult specialty to fill for some time because qualified candidates will need to have the tech expertise to work with data onboarding software solutions while also the broad vision to connect data to known identities and understand which consumers to target and how to reach them. Expect savvy engineers who can also think like marketers to be among your most coveted human capital very soon...and it will only intensify over the next several years. Agencies without a leader who is accountable for understanding the impact of IoT in marketing campaigns are about to find themselves at a significant disadvantage.
IoT is revolutionizing advertising channels and the tools that measure them
The amount of data IoT devices are about to produce is second only to the opportunities they present to engage with consumers in new contextually relevant ways. Think about a connected refrigerator that knows when a carton of milk is about to become empty. It might have the ability to alert its owner to buy more milk on its own screen -- but it could also automatically order more milk by itself or by communicating with a connected Alexa device in the house. It could also send a signal to a connected car that gives the driver a reminder right before it passes a grocery store. Those are just examples that come immediately to mind, there’s no telling how far these channels could expand or how quickly they could do it.
Many agencies are already used to working with data management platforms to gain intelligence from data that is aggregated from many sources and segmented. Expect this to intensify as IoT data explodes, requiring more sophistication and expertise to analyze. Those 400 zettabytes of data are going to be instantly transformed into the most comprehensive set of information on consumer preferences and behaviors ever available, but only to those that understand the platforms and tools to navigate it. To give you an idea how intense this could be, IBM’s Watson supercomputer that processes information at 80 teraflops is a leader in this space.
Agility wins again
The ability to adapt in light of new information has been a determinant in business success since the beginning. Aspects of virtually every company’s ultimate success or failure can be pointed back to how well they understood and responded to changing consumer behaviors, preferences and demands. The concept is the same, but the acceleration is unprecedented. IoT signals provide consumer information in real-time. That connected refrigerator can tell you that someone needs milk right now. Are you equipped to calculate and respond to the real-time demands of all of the consumers your clients hope to reach?
If it all sounds a little intimidating, it is. Organizations of all types are feeling the same heat and that means they are going to lean on their agencies more than ever to help them through the coming maelstrom of data. Navigating it all will revolutionize contextual marketing in ways never thought possible outside the world of science fiction. If you thought Big Data changed things, you ain’t seen nothing yet.