It’s a truism that big data empowers marketing in 2018. We have accepted the idea that the marketer with the most data will win – but there’s a dirty secret every marketer knows but is afraid to say out loud: Data isn’t good enough.

In fact, many data-driven marketing efforts fail as soon as they start. It’s common to blame anything but the data when this happens – maybe the creative wasn’t right, maybe the interpretation of the data was wrong, maybe the marketer isn’t competent, or maybe the product just won’t sell.

Those reasons may be true in some cases, but it’s also true that the same marketer promoting the same product with the same creative can sometimes find success when abandoning one set of data and using another set. We must conclude from these cases that, at least in some instances, the data is bad.

Big data, almost by definition, is dumb data. By focusing on the quantity of data and not the quality, there’s a bias that says all data has equal value, and the more data is put into the equation, the better.

Data-driven marketers know this isn’t the case. There is null data (which won’t have an impact on campaigns) and there’s even negative data (which will lower ROI when it is introduced to the campaign, such as if that data’s cost exceeds its ability to incrementally boost ROI).

But good luck getting most C-suites to recognize this fact! A new Experian study shows that 95 percent of C-level executives think that data is an integral part of forming their business strategy. But the reality is that the quality of the data and its implementation require interpretation and a deeper understanding of how different data sets have value.

In short: You can’t just horde a huge cache of data and expect it to give you a winning strategy. You need to mine the data and determine through an in-depth analysis of what insights it can provide, how actionable those insights are and which action should be taken.

This process isn’t easy.

The largest data brokers in the world know not only the importance of quality data but the difficulty in extracting that quality from large data sets. In many cases, the bigger the data, the harder it is to mine it and differentiate the valuable data from the worthless noise.

At this year’s &THEN, one of the most well-known names in data is going to dig deep into the biggest fiction in modern business – that big data is intrinsically good. Experian Marketing Services President and General Manager Kevin Dean will lead a session entitled “Quality and Actionable Data are Key to the Success of Marketing Initiatives” that examines the pitfalls of data-driven marketing gone wrong, including the higher costs, less effective targeting and potential customer confusion. Dean will also show you how to sift through data and determine what is high quality for your particular use case.

If you work with data, you need to attend this session.

This article is brought to you by &THEN, DMA’s annual event. Click here to join the leaders of the marketing community and advance your data and marketing mastery in Las Vegas, October 7-9.