Data After the Gold Rush

January 22, 2018 | Share this article

By Geoff Copps
Managing Partner, Head of Data, IPG Mediabrands UK

There are 24 carat marketing lessons to be learned from the Californian Gold Rush of 1849. Geoff Copps extracts the nuggets.

For those of us still grappling with how technology is transforming the communications industry, there is much to take from events that unfolded in 1849, in a place that has once more become the epicentre of change.

In January 1848, a foreman named James Marshall was working east of Sacramento when he saw something glinting on the river bed. After inspecting the site, Marshall and his boss made the journey to nearby San Francisco, then a tiny port. News soon spread of the men’s discovery. A year later began the first wave of migration to the area – the start of what later became known as the ‘Californian Gold Rush’.

These days, data has been called the ‘New Gold’. The point is made casually, in reference to the commodity’s era-defining potential value; it is never elaborated upon. But what if we were to take this statement more literally?

I believe that the comparison is more far-reaching than it at first seems. And it can help us to understand our own historical moment and the implications of the new ‘Gold Rush’ on marketing practice.

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