When I was younger, I was (and still am) in love with the idea of a character like Sherlock Holmes. And oh boy, did I try to become like him. A hyper-intelligent being capable of transforming data into insights in a blink of an eye sounded pretty far-fetched back then. Not that unlikely anymore, is it? As increased computing power becomes available for regular peeps like you and me, exciting and robust data analysis tactics become typical in marketing practices. Now, with the right amount of quality data, you can have your very own Sherlock inside your laptop computer.

Why is data analysis becoming more mainstream in marketing? I believe the data-driven nature of digital marketing and affordable massive data storage options incentivize curiosity. Combine said massive data sets with the internet’s ease of access to new and state-of-the-art algorithms and cheaper and more powerful computers, and you got yourself bootstrapped for some Big Data action. According to Oracle: “Put simply, big data is larger, more complex data sets, especially from new data sources.”

Now, wait a minute, bucko. Before you run ahead and start collecting random observations in an excel sheet, let us go over the five “V’s” of big data. Some data scientists have different takes on these “V’s,” but we will stick to what the data engineers at IBM think about Big Data instead of the three “V’s” coined by Oracle. I’ll talk about these five “V’s” in the context of Glacier Media Digital (GMD).


Here at GMD, we are sitting on a gold mine of first-party data. We have the largest news media network across Canada, and the amount of incoming data on users’ behaviours and patterns is enormous. An oversimplified rule of thumb for big data is: Can you pack your whole data set inside an Excel sheet? No? Then we can check “Big.”


How fast do we gather data points? Blazing fast! With an average of 50 million pageviews across our network, we have a steady stream of high-quality and structured observations each month.


One of the virtues of running news websites is the sheer variety of topics we cover in our publications. From realtors and investments to parenthood and puppies! We have you covered. Here at GMD, we’ve done a thorough job at tagging and identifying user patterns with Google Analytics 360, Google Tag Manager, email marketing tools, and other remarketing trackers for every one of our digital properties. By integrating our network with the Google Marketing Platform, we can identify the major interests of our users precisely, segmenting them into over one hundred Affinity Categories and their purchase intentions, with over 500 In-Market Segments available for analysis.


One of the keys to correctly sample a population is to obtain your observations from different sources and mediums. Thanks to our reach, we get observations from every user under the sun—different web browsers, desktop, mobile, tablet, language, various locations, etc.


Why would we go through all of this trouble? The answer is simple. As we collect information from our users, we can understand them better. By better understanding our user’s behaviours, we can cater to their marketing personas in a personalized way, which was impossible a few years ago. Serving relevant ad impressions with a higher probability of clickthrough based on behavioural models is the name of the game.

Big Data is not a fad or a dwindling trend. It is a peephole into the future. Marketing and Digital media will continue to grow in this discipline, and the tactics and strategies will keep evolving as technology and algorithms keep breaking the limits of human imagination. Like Dan Wood stated in his 2013 article “How To Create A Moore’s Law For Data,” in two years, what we know as Big Data probably won’t be so big anymore!