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Big Data 2021: five key areas driving change in communications

How to harness data to make ideas and campaigns more impactful

We’re at an inflection point in our use of data and technology, with the past decade seeing an exponential expansion in the amount of data we produce in our everyday lives. By 2025, the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates humans will interact with data every 18 seconds. 


Data science, engineering and AI are all increasingly important for the future of communications. With so much data on offer, smart technologies are helping companies gain access to insights faster.


Still, for many, big data can seem far removed from the current day-to-day. Here is what marketers need to focus on now: 


Augmented analytics

Augmented analytics refers to the use of enabling technology such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to assist with data processing and surfacing insights. In essence, these technologies build on how we explore and analyse data in analytics and business intelligence (BI) platforms.

Recent Gartner reports have highlighted augmented analytics as a force in shaping big data future trends. So, we can expect to see many more companies implementing technologies on data platforms, because it helps organisations make faster decisions and identify shifts in behaviour – and opportunities – more efficiently.

Audience insights

We’re moving beyond passive data collection and thinking about putting the audience first. We know that the most successful content is built with the end audience in mind, whether it’s digital or not. Rather than thinking about audience data as a targeting or measurement tool, the best brands are using it as the anchor point for planning.


From uniquely created controlled environments to dark posts, opportunities to test, learn and evolve abound as we gain more data. One of the strongest markers for companies that have embraced big data is constant testing and iteration.

One simple way to include more testing is A/B testing some of your content. Also known as split testing, A/B testing is an easy way to evaluate which version of something your audience prefer. Specifically, it is a method of comparing two versions of something against each other to determine which one performs better.

Data as a storyteller

Creative data science not only helps deliver amazing insights and findings, but it can be used to shape and mould creative executions. From working with brands to understand what data they have internally that could be crafted as a great story externally, to using data science to create entirely new content and ideas, data as a storyteller is an exciting opportunity space for brands that want to stand out.

Evolved measurement

The explosion of digital channels has made every touchpoint online imminently more trackable, and understandable. But while these digital metrics can help us optimise, they aren’t going to tell us everything we need to know.

Measurement needs to look across the customer journey to show you the full picture of impact. Many measurement and evaluation programmes are taking advantage of new technologies, integrating multiple datasets into live dashboards, or using AI and NLP to support analysis. But they’re also making use of more traditional methods (such as surveys) made relevant for the modern age with the inclusion of behavioural science.

For more in-depth insight and analysis, download Hill + Knowlton Strategies' Big Data 2021 report

Allison Spray

Hill + Knowlton Strategies

published on

27 July 2021


Technology & data

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