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Our favourite examples of brands using big data in 2019 (and beyond)


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Huge news from the world of search last week. Google revealed its global top trending searches for the last 12 months. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something quite exciting about finding out what *everyone* has been looking at.

This, of course, is something that Google and other high-profile companies have definitely taken note of. We are now more so than ever seeing brands engage with their customers by feeding them big data and using it to their advantage, particularly at the end of the year when everyone is in a rather reflective mood.

While a lot of companies use their data and analytics in this way, there are two that particularly stood out this year: Spotify and Pornhub (yes, Pornhub). So, without further ado, let’s dive in:

‘Spotify Wrapped’ – revealing your listening habits throughout the decade

2019 Spotify Wrapped

Before we go any further, let me just say that if there are any Apple Music users reading, this section does NOT concern you. Go back to your boring old platform.

‘Spotify Wrapped’ or ‘Your Year in Music’ has been running for several years now, and is typically released in early December. Created, of course, by Spotify, it has quickly become an incredibly popular feature for users across the globe, with many looking forward to the end of the decade drop weeks prior to its release.

It’s no secret that someone’s music taste is meaningful and personal to them. I don’t think a week goes by in the LITTLE studio without a semi-heated debate over what music should be put on during the day. Take me, for example, I love ABBA (who doesn’t), and I think that Kanye West is the greatest living artist of our generation. Of course, not everyone agrees, and that’s just fine, I guess.

Kanye West

The beauty of Spotify Wrapped is that it goes beyond just telling you who you listened to in the last year. Notable features for 2019 include:

  • Your favourite genres
  • The number of minutes you spent listening on Spotify in the past year
  • A playlist of your most listened to songs in 2019.

Users are of course prompted to embrace their individuality by sharing their data and statistics on social media, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or even as an Instagram story. In addition, 2019’s wrapped also included a summary of the last decade, allowing their users to see first-hand how their taste in music has evolved over the years.

Compare this to Spotify’s main competitor; Apple Music. Their relatively bland answer to Wrapped is called ‘Apple Music Replay’ and is merely a playlist of your most played songs throughout the year, something that Spotify users can already do. Maybe it’s time to make the switch, Apple Music fans?

The genius behind it all appears to have no limitations. Not only is Spotify encouraging their users to promote their brand, masked as an opportunity for individuals to share their favourite artists, but they’re gaining publicity for artists that some users wouldn’t even think to check out if it wasn’t for seeing someone else listening to them. All of this comes at a fraction of the cost you’d expect.

There are drawbacks to this algorithm, however, as this brilliant tweet below highlights:

PornHub’s ‘Year In Review’ – reaffirming how weird people actually are

PornHub's 2019 'Year in Review'

You’d be forgiven to think that a trend is beginning to emerge judging by the fact that one of my latest blogs was about why the Great British Bake Off is all about sex, and now I’m here writing about PornHub. This is just coincidental, I promise!

You may or may not have noticed that PornHub released their annual ‘Year in Review’ last week, and you better believe it’s chock-full of saucy statistics and behavioural analytics from the popular to the downright bizarre.

I don’t want to go into too much detail here (we’re a family-friendly agency), but some of the most-talked-about statistics include:

  • ‘Alien’ was the second most searched category in 2019
  • 25-34 year-olds visit the website more than any other age demographic (36%)
  • More than 13m searches for ‘Avengers’ characters
  • A 748% increase in Star Wars searches on May 4th.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t exactly feeling the most frisky when watching Return of the Jedi this year.

Each to their own though, I suppose.

Star Wars

While these statistics will prove to be nothing more than humorous reading for most, it still highlights how clever it can be in generating a buzz around a particular brand. Would I be here writing about porn if it wasn’t for their year in review? Probably not on this blog, anyway.

The data that PornHub has revealed is already available to them, it isn’t like they’ve had to buy it from an external source, and I can’t imagine that putting together some infographics and writing engaging copy to match is the most labouring of tasks for a website that has consistently been one of the most visited in the world for several years now.

The success of PornHub’s Year In Review also supports the argument that SEX DOES SELL! This, of course, is something that the marketing team at PornHub realised a long time ago, launching historic campaigns such as their attempt to make a porn film in space, and launching their own record label which boasted artists like Waka Flocka Flame.

The fact of the matter is that PornHub has used the weird and hilarious things that their users engage with to their advantage, giving us all a laugh in the process. If you haven’t got your fix of PornHub statistics from me, you can check out their entire year in review here.

In summary…

Using and distributing big data can prove to be a challenging aspect of business to get right for even the biggest of corporations (Facebook, I’m looking at you). It appears, however, that both Spotify and PornHub have nailed their strategy (pun intended) by using the behaviours, trends and acquisition of their users to their advantage.

Whether it encourages a light-hearted discussion at work or even prompts you to share it with the world on social media (Spotify more so than PornHub), this ingenious and practical use of personal information appears to be going nowhere. Will other big brands follow suit in this way? Only time will tell.

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