One of the key challenges for marketers when it comes to embracing big data is separating the hype from the reality and developing a solution that is tailored to the exact needs of a business.

It was noted by Advertising Age that this can be difficult as expectations for these solutions are often over-inflated. However, if businesses are able to cut through this, they will find that data can help them identify, understand and communicate with audiences much more effectively.

Therefore, it has produced a new report, Smart marketing using big data, that aims to assist companies with the task of bringing big data analytics into their marketing departments and develop an infrastructure that fully supports these strategies.

Andy Fisher, chief analytics officer at customer relationship marketing agency Merkle, explains technology advances over the past few years have made it much easier for enterprises to collect, store, manage and analyze information. “We’re able to now do what the industry was talking about ten years ago,” he said, adding: “The dream is becoming possible.”

Big data matters to firms because in the current era, customer expectations are higher than ever, Advertising Age stated. Mobile apps and a consumer-first attitude are contributing to an environment where marketers are under pressure to support customer-satisfaction initiatives, while also demonstrate a strong return on investment for their spending.

For many, the answer to these challenges is being able to get a more complete view of their consumers, broken down by sector and even on an individual basis, to allow them to understand, predict and influence their customer buying behavior. Managing information effectively is central to this.

The publication said: “Leveraging big data in new ways is enhancing the ability to make advertising and marketing more effective, not just cost-wise, but in the ability to shape and target messaging in a highly customizable way.”

It added that businesses are finding a wide range of applications for these technologies, from correlating ad campaigns and sales, to audience measurement and predicting future behavior.

The company noted that several new technology capabilities in the last few years have taken data analytics for marketing to the next level. Some of the innovations these professionals are using include cloud computing.

This allows marketers to work with very large data sets and work with entire databases rather than just smaller samples in a much more cost-effective and efficient way. Advertising Age noted: “That fuels capabilities such as more effective customer segmentation as well as one-to-one and real-time marketing.”

When it comes to audience measurement, much of the value of big data comes from being able to easily identify points of overlap. The higher volume and variety of data businesses can handle, the more overlap there is likely to be, enabling a more complete view of consumers.

For instance, they can help firms understand not just who has interacted with their brand, but where and why they chose that interaction Andrew Lipsman, vice-president of industry analysis at ComScore, said: “That’s a big innovation that’s important to marketers and publishers to monetize.”