​Big Data Is Behind Christmas This Year

From store layout to the TV guide, data is driving decision making


There are few bigger marketing events than Christmas, and behind every successful marketing campaign lies a whole heap of data. Santa himself can segment the hopes and dreams of children around the world like never before.

Whether we agree with our personal data being harvested or not, it is a trend that will only increase in the future. Living in an increasingly connected world means that we have to share ever more of our lives – we can’t reap the benefits without giving up a certain amount of privacy. We have got used to Google ads becoming ever more personalized over the past couple of years, but the impact of data-driven marketing is going to be felt beyond the screens of our laptops and smartphones this Christmas.

Much of our time over the next couple of weeks will be spent shopping for gifts. Yes, we might do much of this online, but most of us will visit our local shopping centres at least a couple of times for inspiration. It always seems that the 'perfect' gifts are displayed temptingly on the end of each aisle. Retailers have got festive temptation down to a fine art, and we often walk away with products that we had no intention of buying. Retailers have spent years mining and perfecting the data, and we have no choice but to hand over our credit cards. Ouch.

Equally interesting is the way that the advertising industry has tapped into our inner child. Adverts with a dog jumping on a trampoline and a little talking carrot may have originated in someone’s imagination, but you can be sure that they were developed together with rafts of data. Should it be a dog, should it be a cat? Oh, maybe it should be a rabbit? You can be sure that the data pointed towards it being a dog. The response to thousands of advertising campaigns are being processed in the data centres of ad agencies around the world – thus very few ads are totally original these days, but boy do they know which buttons to press.

Big Data is also dominating the choice of films that we will have to watch over the festive period. No matter whether you have terrestrial TV, a satellite service or prefer to stream, you can be sure that your favourite films will be on for the Christmas week. The ratings battles are particularly hot, but you can be sure that each network will have debated the intricacies of their strategy months in advance. What did people watch last year? How have they changed this year? What will they want to watch this year? Big Data will provide the answers.

Personally, I think that Big Data continues to contribute to a more enjoyable and warm Christmas experience. Nothing beats spending time with family, of course, but when you step out to do some Christmas shopping or relax in front of the TV, it is nice to feel that you are 'understood.'

Giving up a little privacy is somehow worth it when your favourite childhood film is on.

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