Using Big Data to Play Digital Matchmaker on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

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    Big Data: Not Just for Big Business Anymore

    With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just days away, retailers and consumers are gearing up for the annual shopping frenzy. Behind the scenes, Lisbeth McNabb is gearing up to play digital matchmaker between the two.

    As a former CFO at, McNabb knows the digital matchmaking world better than most. Now, she’s applying that know-how at DigiWorks, a Dallas-based, Big-Data-centric digital marketing services provider that she founded a year ago, and where she serves as CEO. She’s matching retailers with individual shoppers to create one-to-one shopping bliss. If McNabb is digital marketing’s cupid, Big Data is her arrow.

    I spoke with McNabb last week, and I asked her how Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year will be different from last year. She said more people have more reasons to stay away from shopping malls:

    We’ve seen that sales rose 17 percent last year, 22 percent the year before. We know there’s going to be a high rise again, in terms of cyber. What’s going to be different is we’ve got “South Park” joking about [Black Friday issues] at the mall, we’ve got security [concerns] going up at the mall. The reality is there are underlying [reasons] to go even heavier to Web, digital, and mobile.

    McNabb went on to explain the role that DigiWorks plays in all this:

    What we do at DigiWorks is we get to know the consumer one-to-one, and store that information. We’re the digital Big Data backbone, and we built authentic, one-to-one relationships by mapping data, building the profile, and then matching up the consumer with the retailer. If you think about, it puts two people together. In the same way, you can picture a match science with Amazon putting me together with products that they offer, and watching what I do. In the same way, DigiWorks is putting in a match science to be able to have any company, not just Amazon, talk to the consumer one-to-one.

    McNabb elaborated on how her experience as CFO at prepared her for what she’s doing at DigiWorks:

    I’ve got a number of people on my team who came from Match; a number of them have been with me at other digital and technology companies. I think what that background did was [coalesce the experience] with the world of Big Data that I have all the way back to American Airlines [where McNabb served as marketing and planning manager from 1990 to 1995]. The experience, and other digital experiences, prepared us to move very fast to the reality of Big Data today, which is that the time to revenue is fast, and that customers expect more than just recommendations. At Match, people didn’t want to be told about millions of people—they wanted to be told about people who might match. What prepared us was at Match we were getting revenue every hour, unlike at Frito-Lay [where McNabb served as innovation and business planning director from 1995 to 2000], we were [only] able to measure it every week. That moved us forward in revenue, and it moved us forward in being precise with our recommendations. So we feel really prepared to do that now for many companies, and we’re passionate about bringing digital inside those companies, because we think what people will find, like we found at Match, when you actually know your consumer one-to-one, you have a lot more fun than when you just have research that suggests what many consumers in bundles, or categories, or segments, are like. So it’s a fun place to be.

    Finally, I asked McNabb how Black Friday and Cyber Monday next year will  be different from this year. Her response:

    I’m on a media company [Nexstar Broadcasting] board that this year has seen mobile page views higher than traditional Web. So a year from now, when you converge the increase in mobile, Big Data, and one-to-one personalization, picture that mobile [device] in your hand—you walk into a store and a person walks up to you, and he’s able to more quickly know who you are, and connect one-to-one.

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