Big data has become something of a buzzword over the past year or so, but is it actually useful? 

It conjures thoughts of massive amounts of forbidding, almost unfathomable data, and it seems that it has had little impact on the role of web analysts. 

In fact, the response of 8% of marketers in our Online Measurement and Strategy Report 2013, created in assocation with Lynchpin, was: 'don’t care – big data is a pointless marketing term'.

The impact of Big Data

The term may have been bandied around by vendors and others (we are guilty on this blog) without explanation that many clients and marketers do not understand the term or what it means to their business. 

We asked respondents 'what effect has big data had on the web analysts in your organisation?' and, as you can see from the word cloud, 'none' was the overwhelming answer: 

Here are some of the freeform reponses: 

Time available to analyse data in Google Analytics is too little, so adding more data to the 'pile' to analyse will only lead to less insight, not more.

Little to none. We know we need to gather and analyse the available date to run our marketing and our business better, but 'big data' is not the driver of this.

We have tonnes of data and sometime it's difficult to analyse, but this has always been a problem and always will be as data acquisition will keep growing.

Not sure what "big data" means.

With many companies still not using their current analytics tools to their full potential, asking them to process this new 'big data' on top of everything else is a tall order. 

Vendors would be well-placed to reassess the use of the term in marketing communications. They may well be deterring potential clients with the use of the term.

Alternatively, they will have to engage in significant education efforts which move away from “vendor hype” and actually deliver true understanding to their clients and prospects.

Big data and budgets

Although resources and budgets are a key constraint on web analytics fulfilling business requirements, our research showed that only a quarter of companies have increased their budgets for technology and analysis capabilities in response to the big data trend. 

However, big data has caused some budgets to increase, and it could be that it is taking time for the benefits of big data to filter up to senior management, and for the increased budgets to filter down.

It will be interesting to see whether increased budgets attributed to big data become more common in the next couple of years.

Has the big data trend led to increased budgets within your organisation for related technology and analysis capabilities? (company respondents)

Graham Charlton

Published 4 July, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (6)

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Matt Hollingsworth (Acxiom)

Big Data is real. But it doesn't have to be expensive or unwieldy and it isn't necessarily the answer to every problem that organisations face. You need the right team on board, a strategic approach using external and internal resources as required and roadmpa based on use cases. Acxiom has a great white paper on the subject.

about 5 years ago



Can we fix the things by improving its network, processing, and storage systems to make the data machines run faster? Unfortunately, we can’t... :|

about 5 years ago

David Sealey

David Sealey, Head of Digital Consulting at CACI

Really enlightening findings Graham.

I don't think Marketers shouldn't be concerned with Big Data. That's what the consultants, IT dept, analysts and agencies are there for (the obvious exception is if you're marketing Big Data solutions).

Marketers should simply be able to communicate their information needs in plain English and await the result. Whether the data comes from Hadoop, web analytics, CRM or social networks should be someone else's concern.

The innovation in this space is when the right snippets of insight are easily available to the marketer without them having to plan, analyse or read lengthy charts of information.

about 5 years ago


big data training

big data is the futre

about 5 years ago


Kayden Kelly

Hi Graham,

Seems you and I are thinking along the same lines. Most clients we work with are frustrated with "Big Data."

In alignment with Matt's comment; I don't think big data has to be so challenging and expensive. I recently published a blog post called "Get the Complete Story with Big Data Analytics" ( and how big data analytics can be more accessible to smaller organizations using rapid, inexpensive tools like Google's BigQuery and Tableau visualization software.

I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts on whether or not you think these tools, and the fact that it is becoming easier to get unsampled data out of the popular Google Analytics and integrate it with other data sources/types.

Look forward to your thoughts...


about 5 years ago


Will Beresford, Beyond Analysis

It comes of little surprise that 8% of marketers “don’t care” about Big Data and think it’s a "pointless marketing term”. Many companies give the analytics industry a bad name by simply dumping mountains of data on their clients without delivering clear and actionable insight – meaning that these ‘results’ go on to do nothing but collect dust. A shameful waste of time, money and effort all round.

In today’s digital, omni-channel world, data has become the bedrock for highly successful and consistent marketing campaigns. Even Aberdeen Group's recent report ‘Data Management for BI’ acknowledges how the digital marketing revolution has driven data growth significantly over the past four years.

Although it may seem daunting, marketers shouldn't feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they now have on customers. Instead they should see it as an opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with them. Any analytical insight should be presented in a simple and striking fashion that will be meaningful to people across the organisation – not just marketers. To harness its true power, Big Data needs to be delivered in small bites and simple steps in order to produce truly powerful results. Once marketers see the results, I think they absolutely WILL care about the opportunities offered up when Big Data is delivered well.

almost 5 years ago

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