Introduction to Big Data from the CRE

The Council for Research Excellence (CRE), facilitated by industry veteran Richard Zackon, is an industry think tank that addresses many top issues in the media industry with committees focused on such subjects as local measurement, social media, cross-platform, ROI and sample quality.  The CRE is funded by Nielsen.

There is arguably no bigger topic of discussion in the industry today than the one on Big Data. Many papers have been written – from such organizations and companies as Google, CIMM, SAS, CRA and even the White House - describing what big data is and is not, its opportunities and challenges. But there has never been a simple introduction for those in media who may have heard about Big Data but may need more information about it.

The Big Data Committee headed by Stacey Lynn Schulman, EVP Strategy and Analytics at Katz, just released a new Primer on Big Data that serves such a purpose. As Schulman explained, “A lot has been written and a lot more continues to be written but that doesn’t mean that people understand what Big Data is. We wanted to step in and demystify what it is and try to help navigate the waters of who operates in Big Data, how it gets operationalized within organizations today and what the place of traditional market researchers are as well as data scientists.”

I sat down with Schulman and Zackon and asked them a few questions about their Big Data Primer.

Charlene Weisler talks to Katz's Stacey Lynn Schulman and the CRE's Richard Zackon about the new CRE Big Data Primer in this 5:41 minute video:

CW: Can you give me some topline takeaways from the paper?

SLS: It’s called a primer so it’s instructive – it’s a starting point for people so there is a lot of terminology in there, defining terms, what do we really mean by Big Data. We attempt a definition that is very specific to the marketing and advertising industries because, frankly, Big Data can apply to anything in the industry. We wanted to define it for ourselves. We talk about different kinds of companies that are working with this sort of data, various issues that arise in working with this data. It doesn’t go into a significant amount of depth because it is not for the data scientists. It’s really a way to get your feet wet and to feel comfortable having these conversations in your organizations and knowing where to start.

RZ: I had an additional motivation. I teach a course in audience measurement at NYU and I see 20-somethings whose careers are going to be hugely impacted by Big Data and I wanted to give that group a place to start as well. There is also a free online course that I recommend from Johns Hopkins called The Data Scientist's Toolbox.

Schulman and Zackon discuss how companies can begin to use Big Data, how to break down silos and how toinclude non-research areas such as Sales in this 9:07 minute video:

CW: How would a big media company start in the arena of Big Data if they haven’t already started?

SLS: One of the reasons why we wrote the primer is to help market research professionals jump start that process and become catalysts in their own organizations. The first thing they have to realize is that it does not sit in just one division or one piece of the company. Harnessing Big Data, finding the data solutions, knowing what data sets you need or data sets you want or data sets you even have – all of those things require not just the senior researcher but also the technology officers, information officers, contracts for data. Step one is finding the right people in the organization to get together.

RZ: The skills for successful Big Data projects are as much collaborative skills as they are technical skills like machine learning and artificial intelligence.

How does Nielsen use Big Data? Schulman and Zackon discuss this topic with Charlene Weisler in this 5:45 minute video:

Schulman and Zackon give their Big Data Predictions and some advice for the Next Generation of media executives in this5:04 minute video:

CW: Looking ahead next year at this time, where do you see Big Data playing out in our industry?

SLS: You will be seeing more automated programmatic solutions fueled by Big Data. And as more and more transactions happen around data like this, we will start looking at that data much more closely and will need to evaluate the quality of that data.

RZ: My first response is that next year at this time we will be talking about Really Big Data. But actually I think it will go the other way. I think the term “Big Data” may become less common and it may become again just data and we will begin to learn how to deal with the shock of the massive terabytes of data coming at us. I suspect it will all just become part of our world.

This article first appeared in www.MediaBizBloggers.com

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