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Big Data, Big Brother
CNBC.com | March 27, 2012 | 11:49 AM EDT

When you’re surfing the web and spot targeted ads based on your prior searches, it’s a jarring reminder that someone — companies, websites and search engines — is following your digital footsteps.

They are also following the money. The volume of personal digital data available is transforming everyday commerce, particularly marketing and advertising.

Companies want to engage and interact with you through multiple platforms that can include emails, mobile devices, social media and online video — and even use that new data trove to spawn new forms such as junk mail. They want you to linger, get to know your likes and dislikes and offer more targeted promotions.

In fact in four years, advertisers will spend $77 billion on digital interactive marketing — as much as they do on TV today, according to research firm Forrester .

With so much money at stake, it’s no wonder companies are retooling how they use metrics and analytics to achieve business goals. Other industries including financial services and health care are also working to capitalize on the data boom.

“In the span of just a couple of years, how we think about customer data has really changed,” says Fatemeh Khatibloo, senior analyst at Forrester, who specializes in customer intelligence, privacy and personal data issues.

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