We take a stab at using big data.

Have you seen the new series on Netflix? Yes, I said NEW series on Netflix. It’s getting a bunch of critical acclaim, but in case you haven’t heard, it is called House of Cards and, I have to say, I am a big fan. I’m really helpless to resist because it was custom made for me. It’s the latest triumph of big data mining, conceived by Netflix by leveraging viewer data.

According to Andrew Leonard at Salon.com in his post, “How Netflix is Turning Viewers into Puppets,” Netflix took a look at what else viewers of the BBC series House of Cards liked. Turns out they liked other political dramas, Kevin Spacey, and David Fincher. Armed with this information, Netflix’s decision to buy the rights to the BBC version, cast Kevin Spacey, and have David Fincher direct was a no-brainer. Andrew then goes into a bit of hand-wringing about what this will do to creativity—as you can surmise from the post title, it wasn’t a positive view.

But I’ve spent a lot of long nights with knots in my stomach agonizing over delivering what I think clients want. I’d like a break from that tension, and I bet I’m not alone. I bet a lot of creative folks would love to be able to arm themselves with some hard data to back up their first-round concepts. How nice would it be to walk into a board room and be able to say, “Well, I know it just doesn’t feel right to you, but the data suggests that your customers are more than 50 percent more likely to click the ‘buy’ button if a red-haired man is holding your product.”

So, I’ve decided to embrace Big Data, and here are my three creative concepts based on data I’ve mined. Keep in mind, I’m a creative guy and numbers make me sleepy, so really I kinda glanced at some sites and made guesses.

  1. It’s a Big Big Tech World: From a “thorough” review of the Microsoft Facebook page analytics, I’ve noticed the most popular posts are ones discussing a new Egyptian theme for Windows and one about a recent review on Endgadget. This has given birth to the madcap travel adventure show, It’s a Big Big Tech World, sponsored by Microsoft. It follows the adventures of Karl Pilkington, the newly deputized Endgadget tech reviewer, as he travels the world exploring its technology and scaring less advanced civilizations with the sheer futility of posting Vine videos.
  1. Internet Justice: This new app is one part Mystery Science Theater 3000 and one part costumed-vigilante role-playing game, and is inspired by the fact that the two top stories of all time on Reddit are a test post and a story about a brave man who stood up for justice on a bus (the Bus Knight). This app posts a random vague word every day, and the community is encouraged to come up with the cleverest retort in response to the posting. Players can rate each other’s posts and climb the ranks to “Poster Supreme.” However, be careful, as you are also being geo-tracked; add a trollish remark and the 10 biggest defenders within a five-mile radius are immediately notified of your exact location.
  1. Replace Science Teachers with Legal Disclaimer Voiceover Artists: On a trip to YouTube, I found that the ASAP Science Channel was the most popular in the science category. With more than 4 million views for their video “Amazing Facts to Blow Your Mind Pt. 2,” the suggestion is that Americans really love science—they just want it delivered quickly. Couple that with the fact that there are 22,000 entries for “voiceover demo” on YouTube, and you have enough raw talent to fuel classrooms full of professionals who can deliver scientific facts quickly and with gusto.


Have you used data mining in your communications strategy? If so, tell me about it below.

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