How Big Data has changed Content Marketing: Rejo Francis T, Zee Entertainment Enterprises

Guest Column: Rejo Francis T, Circle Head, Zee Entertainment Enterprises, tells us more about Big Data and how it can be leveraged in content marketing

e4m by Rejo Francis T
Published: May 16, 2019 8:45 AM  | 7 min read
Rejo Stevie

We are all used to the stream of advertisements that bombard you the minute you log on to a website and keep bothering you even if you disable them. You also have those apps that keep asking you for access rights the moment you download them. What is actually happening is that data (often referred to as Big Data) is being collected. Data is being collected without the customer being aware of this.

So, what is Big Data?

Big Data refers to the formation of large data collections that brands obtain from different media, to find patterns that allow them to discover consumption behaviors, preferences, and habits. It is the potential knowledge that comes from listening to customers, understanding what their needs are, what they respond to, what they ignore, etc.

So, what makes Big Data a key element, when creating content of great value for the consumer?

Think of it in the following way; through Big Data, companies can:

  • Segment prospects intelligently.
  • Customize each interaction and the entire journey of the client.
  • Optimize the marketing budget and maximize its impact.

But first, to implement Big Data a series of elements and steps are necessary, among which we find:

a) Analyze audience interests. Tools such as  Google Analytics facilitate the monitoring of user behavior on the company’s channels (sites), determining those that are viewed the most:

b) Define the total number of visits, as well as the time a user spends reading a specific content, the type of device utilized, time of the day users saw or shared the content. All of this among other data, to correctly program the editorial calendar that guides the creation and distribution of each publication.

c) Analyze what, when and where they consume the contents.

According to figures collected in 2017, the global market value of Big Data was US$13.5 billion; while for 2018 it increased to reach US$18,200 billion.

And what has this led to from a content perspective?

Content marketing has gone from being a trend to a pillar in every strategy or marketing plan in companies of goods and services from various parts of the world. There’s a scene in Back to the Future where Marty McFly realizes that the decisions, he made in the past are having unexpected and cataclysmic effects on the future. Everyone is coming to some of these same realizations today regarding the use of personal data. It’s becoming abundantly clear that collecting data without asking, eschewing creativity to chase the click, and giving away content for free are unwise approaches. And probably the time has come to reset the clock like in the movie.

The end of digital data collection

The onset of digital media gave us unprecedented access to data on consumers...everything from the pages they browse and the items they purchase to who they follow and what they say. We collectively rejoiced at the marketing opportunity at hand and proclaimed that "data was the new oil." But brace yourselves: We’re looking at the end of data collection as we know it. In some parts of the world, the government has started to step in. Laws are being passed in California to prevent the collection of personal info without permission, and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is putting restrictions in place for all online players. All in all, we’re looking at data backlash.

Instead of having numbers in their back pocket, companies are going to have to start returning to classic “pull” methods for promotional materials. Maybe you can’t figure out the age and interests of whoever bought a race pass for your marathon, but if you’re sharing great stories about training and running expertise, the audience you want will come to you.

So which formats should marketers use?

All companies have been experimenting with formats. Everyone was getting into multi-platform content, dabbling in everything from podcasts to virtual reality (VR) videos. These formats have the potential for great storytelling, but too often companies just use them because they’re new and shiny.

In 2019, it’s time to hark back to the basics of marketing. If you have a great idea, derived from a profound insight into your audience, you can share it in any number of ways. Imagine you’re marketing a tourism destination. If you have access to amazing personal stories from a long-time hotel doorman, a simple Q&A article could actually serve you better than a VR experience. Maybe it’s not the newest medium, but it will highlight the character of the individual in a clearer, more engaging way.

The bottom line: Ideas should lead the way, not flashy tech. 

Direct to customer Most of the most well-known media brands are trying to sell their content directly to their audience. It’s a model that’s been around since the first newspaper and is now coming back into fashion with the OTT apps etc. Look at the New York Times’s paywall or Netflix’s subscription model. These are companies that are doubling down on creating great, original content ... content so good that people are willing to pay money to access it. This renewed focus on quality is a welcome change to the propagation of click-bait and sensationalized headlines that have dominated social media streams in recent years. Disney which probably has the biggest content library is also entering the race and this should really build pressure on the existing players like Netflix which leads me to my next point which is:

Content competition across all mediums

With direct customer access to content through various platforms increasing, content on new platforms is competing with traditional mediums for customer eyeballs. So, for example, popular TV shows are now competing against Amazon Prime originals. An educational piece on finance from Chase Bank is now a direct competitor of an editorial deep-dive from The Economist. 

This will also lead to improvement and innovation on the content side.

And last but not least, fraudsters will be weeded out

Content marketing budgets are expected to hit $412 billion by 2021. When you have that much money flowing, fraud naturally follows. According to a deep-dive from AdPros, about 60% of banner ad traffic is fraudulent (with impressions on fake websites or clicks by bots juicing the numbers). Faux influencers, with follower lists, made up of bots and fake engagement, are rampant too.

But the people spending all those billions are catching on, and tech companies have stepped up to weed out the fraud. Third-party content marketing software is available to neutrally verify that media properties can accurately represent their true reach and audience, and that engagement is coming from real people (did 10,000 people from Pakistan really look at an English-language article about New York fashion trends for two seconds each?). If these trends can teach us anything, it’s that content marketing continues to grow at an incredible pace ... and like Marty McFly in back to the future, we’re bound to make some mistakes along the way. This year we must learn and adapt, with a renewed focus on what our audiences want.

Great storytelling, after all, is more than a trend ... it’s timeless.


(The author, Rejo Francis T. Circle Head, Zee Entertainment Enterprises)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of


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