Episode Summary: For some companies, big data remains an abstraction; for others, it’s an integral part of the lifeblood of a business. Mat Harris is vice president at Sojern, a travel marketing platform that has leveraged big data to grow $3 billion in bookings and 1/3 of a billion traveler profiles across its platform. In this episode, Harris speaks about how Sojern and other businesses are using a combination of their data and other sources of data (what he calls third and “second” data sources) in order to make informed marketing decisions and better market their services to buyers. Harris sheds light on the direct ROI for big data in different businesses, and it’s an interesting episode from the perspective of an executive who is using big data to make decisions on business directions.

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Expertise: Product Building and Marketing

Brief Bio: Mat is a startup veteran with extensive product and commercial leadership experience in mobile advertising. After building and managing a successful digital agency and a video advertising platform in Austin, Texas, he moved to San Francisco to lead product management for InMobi’s rich media authoring platform and was the head of advertising products at Tapjoy. Mat frequently speaks on topics including dynamic personalization, mobile advertising, marketing strategy, leveraging big audience data, and the future of advertising.

Current Affiliations: Vice President of Product, Enterprise Solutions at Sojern

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Interview Highlights:

(1:41) What do you consider to be the most important applications of big data in your company today?

(4:22) ‘In general, online travel exists because of big data’…when you say that, do you mean because enough information is pooled and correlated…in one core place that a number of various agents – like your company – can draw from it and make sense of it?

(10:09) It sounds as though…in some regards, there were enough incentives for the related parties – namely in your case, airlines and airports and hotels etc. – for them all to list this (data) and for them all to possibly make it collectible and searchable and sortable, so there needs to be some sort of consensus across an industry…it sounds like in travel you’re in the right kind of spot for your position, but maybe not all industries are like that…

(15:35) What are some tangible examples…of a really important connection from the licensing of second-party data; what are some use cases that for you are pretty transformative and indicative of the value?

(21:40) It sounds like…there’s the tech side of thinking through, what we’re going to collect and how, and then the marketing side as well, there’s a pretty robust whiteboard process that probably goes into doing this…

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