TED, an incredible source of information and inspiration recently posted a new talk with data scientist Sebastian Wernicke. In the talk, Mr. Wernicke describes the process in which tech companies who produce content, namely Amazon and Netflix, use the vast amount of data they own to make decisions regarding the content they produce.

There are many aspects of this talk we find fascinating. First and foremost it’s probably surprising to the casual internet user to know just how much data is being generated about their online activities every time they do anything online. With the popularity of browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, these companies can now track not only the activities users engage in on a specific page they are on (for example when watching a movie on Netflix) but also data about everything else they do online, through the usage of browser cookies. Literally millions upon millions of data points are being constantly collected about user activities online every second. That’s A LOT of data.

Mr. Wernicke discusses two approaches Amazon and Netflix used to help them pinpoint their audiences’ interests, habits and preferences when contemplating the development of new content for their viewers. While Amazon commissioned single episodes from several producers, put them online for their users to view and engage with for free. Based on their users preferences, Amazon then decided which shows to green-light and commission full seasons of.

Netflix, on the other hand, already have tons of data about their users. They based their decisions regarding the production of new content on the creative analysis of this data, resulting in the release of the highly successful series “House Of Cards”.

The talk discusses both examples of data usage and the integration of the creative data analysis into the decision making and further development of their content. Data is a massively useful tool that can help make better decisions, but data should not drive these decisions but rather inspire them.

In the online marketing world, we constantly try to improve on our data generation tools, which in return can offer us, in time, an incredible source of information that can help us make future decisions and improve the content we produce with our clients for their audience. Through the usage of website cookies, Google Analytics, Facebook insights, Twitter analytics and many more, any website owner can, and should, generate data about their audiences as early as possible. Once data is effectively generated, creative data analysis and how you allow this data to inspire your decision making can make or break a project, service, product or business.

Data analysis is a term that used to describe the important process of extraction of meaningful higher-level features from a set of what may otherwise be meaningless numbers. Allowing yourself to be creative and adventurous with your data analysis is essential to anyone looking to create meaningful, impressionable content in this day and age, when users are constantly bombarded with what seems like unlimited amounts of content and information.

Check out the complete referenced Ted Talk below and let us know your thoughts.