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What is Marketing Analytics? Q+A with Bill Rand on Career Opportunities and More

The term “marketing analytics” is relatively new to the scene, but the concept has been around for years. 

Bill Rand, executive director of the Business Analytics Initiative and associate professor of marketing at the Poole College of Management, describes marketing analytics as making data-driven decisions — any question that a marketing manager has to answer can be tied to data. 

“It’s simply a process of identifying which data is relevant and then building a model to suggest the most effective answer to that question,” says Rand. 

Students in the new fully online Master of Management, Marketing Analytics concentration program (MMA) will be looking for roles that help their organizations make decisions about how to optimize their marketing. 

According to Rand, these roles would work closely with product, customer and other types of marketing managers to help determine what questions they need the most help answering. 

“They would also be able to talk to people in information technology to get the data they need to help answer these questions. In some ways, they are translators who are able to talk to both customer-facing representatives and the internal data wizards,” he adds. 

These positions would have titles such as marketing analyst, market researcher, market research analyst, product research analyst, customer research analyst — some combination of words related to marketing and either research, analyst or specialist. 

“The skills our students will learn are generally transferable to just about any functional unit. Yes, they will be focused around marketing, but the general foundation skills they learn in our analytics core classes are perfect for analytics in any aspect of the business,” says Rand. 

“Many firms are looking for a unicorn who can build complex, cloud-structured data storage systems on the one end and make perfect decisions for the company on the other end. It’s much more scaleable to assemble teams of analytics professionals, some of whom are more focused on the underlying data structures, and some of whom are focused on the business decisions. Our students will be able to talk to both groups of individuals and help bring cohesiveness to these teams that are trained in different disciplines,” adds Rand. 

With a need for analytics-minded thinking at all levels of an organization, students from the MMA could potentially end up with careers in the highest levels of an organization with titles such as chief data officer. 

Rand describes his own career path as unusual. 

“I started out as a researcher in computer science. My Ph.D. is in artificial intelligence (AI), but I learned early on that I was less interested in making better working machine learning (ML) and AI algorithms than I was in applying AI/ML to new and interesting problems.” 

“As a result, I started building models of word-of-mouth and consumer interactions and introducing AI/ML concepts to marketing academic research. I spent eight years exploring these concepts at the University of Maryland, before coming to NC State around five years ago,” says Rand. 

Around this time, analytics as a concept started to become more popular, and Rand thought applying machine learning, and in particular, a method of computer modeling called agent-based modeling would be a great asset to marketing analytics research. Rand has written a textbook on agent-based modeling and brings this expertise to the classroom. 

“In some ways, I’ve started using the language of marketing analytics only in the last six or seven years, but I’ve been doing research in marketing analytics my entire academic career,” Rand adds. 

Are you interested in a career in marketing analytics? Learn more about the online Master of Management, Marketing Analytics program. Check out the marketing analytics virtual info session held on Jan. 13, 2022.