Eqtr @ SxSW 2015, Day 1 - Everything’s Bigger in Texas

Our marketing director Martin Jordan arrives in Austin, Texas, for SxSW 2015. In the state where everything is bigger, he learns how business and politics are harnessing big data to better reach their audiences.

So, the first day of South by South West has come and gone and people are getting ready to hit the parties, drink (responsibly of course) and forget half of the things they learned today. I am no exception to that so I’ve stopped to note down my thoughts on what I believe the main theme of day one has been here in Austin, Texas – the state where everything is bigger, from the phat-ass pickups on the road to the giant-slaying chicken and waffles I had for breakfast.

So it makes sense that that theme is Big Data. Now I’ve said quite recently in a talk I did for the CIM on the era of Post-Digital marketing, I believe we are now at a stage where we should be getting excited by data. And today I am really excited about it.

Yes, I know SxSW Interactive is the home of the geek and, yes, I am a geek. But I heard the same mantra from people cooler than me, less geeky than me and with some great examples to prove my point.

I met the agency team who were responsible for Obama’s original (and successful) election campaign in 2008. They spoke of how it was data that informed the campaign, data that changed the campaign on a daily basis and data which empowered their vast teams to “get out there” and deliver the Obama message of Hope.

Interestingly they made the point that they believe modern political scientists actually adapt their campaign and promotional messages faster and more consistently than almost any contemporary marketer. Controversial – but probably true! We marketers do tend to arrive with an ego and we find it hard to be wrong and have something as boring as data tell us so.

I heard also from tech-behemoth Oracle on how it is data that is modernising the way we buy adspace on television and how it will actually help us reach MORE millennials on television, rather than less – as many of us believe is going to be the case.

And I heard also from the CEO of Rent The Runway tell the assembled audience that, in her fashion-centric glitzy world, her first C-suite hire was a Chief Analytical Officer. She was so bold as to state she was in the business of data, not fashion. There was nothing boring about Jennifer Hyman – and her many millions of profits tells me that her attitude to data is really rather exciting.

So, what does all of this tell us as the sun sets on day one other than I told you so!? Well, as much as I like to be right (I am a marketer after all), it reaffirms to me that every business in 2015 needs to be putting data waaaay further up the hierarchy of needs for their marketing budgets. They need to start taking a greater interest in the data at their disposal and start to understand what that means for their business. I’ve always said spending 30 minutes in Google Analytics and you’ll learn something new about your business (and your website). I am now of the opinion that you should spend so much time analysing your business that you have to buy more analytical tools because you’ve exhausted the ones you’ve got.

Call me a geek if you will, but that’s how millions are being made. And if the Wolf of Wall Street is anything to go by, being rich looks fun!