Big Data For News Publishers

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Big Data For News Publishers

Why volume-based campaigns are a flawed audience-building model

15 June 2015 · By Greg Bright

In the age of Big Data, news media companies are operating with an unprecedented amount of information on which to base critical business decisions. The ability to append demographics and lifestyle data and transactional history, unify online and offline data to achieve a “single customer view,” and create advanced segmentation models at an individual customer level are all very exciting. 

But in the end, we are still confronted with the challenge of aligning supply with demand to justify our marketing investments and effectively measure the return on those investments.

As marketers we have all asked or been asked the question: “Can’t you get me more customers?”

In other cases, it comes in the form of the statement “I need X new customers this month.”

Both are best addressed through very careful analytics and application of micro-economic theory.

Volume-based planning: a flawed model

A common mistake of marketers is to follow the simple, traditional, volume-driven approach (i.e. “I need X new customers this month”). In the campaign design, we skip the supply and demand consideration and jump to the conclusion – not because we did the math but because ...


3 characteristics of a data scientist

17 May 2015 · By Greg Doufas

The data scientist.

Has there ever been so much interest and demand in a job title?

Confusion, too. Who are these data scientists? What do they do? What qualifies them, and how do you find these people?

“A data scientist is a statistician who lives in San Francisco.” – Josh Wills

In the 1980s and 90s, it was data mining, database marketing, and other business intelligence skill sets that were all the buzz. These jobs required people who could manipulate and transform data through the use of popular data/database code (SQL) and statistical software (SAS, SPSS, etc.).

The data was typically structured and relational in nature. IT “owned” the databases and managed the administration required for the software being used to access and speak to the data.

Times were simpler back then. A database dictionary, a proper understanding of statistical methods, and some degree of certification (or at least advanced training) in statistical software ...


3 components of smart metrics

16 February 2015 · By Greg Doufas

“Dont let anyone just tell you what they value. Look at their budget and daily calendar and you can tell them what they value.”

This was some of the best advice Ive ever been given.

It was early in my career. I was managing my first truly complex business intelligence programme, and I was struggling to map business objectives to an analytics roadmap. Even at executive levels, opinions about the right objectives to quantify and measure were all over the map.

Essentially, no one could agree on what our key performance metrics were. I was stuck and it was that advice that helped me most at the time: I needed to cut through the empty statements of intent and opinion and come to terms with the truth.

The first step was ...


From war-torn Syria to Miley Cyrus: Is click-bait hurting your brand?

22 December 2014 · By John M. Lervik

Have you ever been reading a serious article about troubles in the Middle East, but somehow find yourself bombarded by irrelevant recommendations for articles about Justin Bieber or how to “lose weight fast?”

Does this feel off-putting to you? It should.

For publishers to build a loyal and engaged readership, they need to understand their own content inside out to offer users valuable and relevant recommendations that motivate them to engage, read, and share content.

Publishers must scratch their heads when they see traffic pouring into their site, only to see a staggering 75% of users leave after only one page view. This bounce rate reflects the short attention span of digital audiences, particularly on mobile, but also highlights the publisher’s inability to grab its target audience when they are already on its site.

Many publishers have made a half-hearted effort to engage users via social media channels. This may drive traffic to individual articles, but it’s rarely loyalty building.

More likely, it will be another “one-and-done” page view where a user clicks the link, goes to the recommended page, reads some of the article, and returns to where they came from without exploring the publisher’s site.

This kind of “a la carte” viewing is driving page view numbers, but ...


4 key considerations when building a lifetime value model

28 October 2014 · By Greg Doufas

Understanding the lifetime value (LTV) of your customer is one of the most important capabilities your Big Data programme can, and should, offer.

Simply put, you cannot have a meaningful conversation about business threats or opportunities in a customer-centric context without a detailed understanding of what the long-term profitability of your relationships are. 

In fact, I would argue it makes little sense to advance a Big Data road map focused on all the best data science and technology has to offer without doing the heavy lifting (and thinking) required in developing customer lifetime value metrics and implementing a plan to embed the required vocabulary into business processes.

Customer lifetime value is the net profit attributed to a customer relationship over the predicted tenure of the relationship with your organisation.

It is important because ...


Complacency won’t build revenue, but these 5 audience actions will

29 September 2014 · By John M. Lervik

Like other industries confronted with a new paradigm, publishers felt challenged as digital media began overtaking traditional publishing channels. But digital is here to stay.

Now it’s time for publishers to truly own it – capitalising on content, implementing new revenue models, and making them work.

The key to success? It’s all about the audience and the context.

Gone are the days when geography alone helped assure a valuable audience. Today’s successful publishers actively seek site visitors, and have figured out how to keep them on the site and engage them with premium content.

The result is readers who are more likely to become repeat and loyal visitors and potentially paid subscribers.

Seeking out audiences can be ...


Are you inadvertently giving away your customer data ... and your profits?

19 August 2014 · By John M. Lervik

Digital publishers are compromised by third parties (Google, Facebook, advertising vendors, social media widget providers, and others) that take, use, and monetise the customer data publishers generate.

And it’s precisely that access to customer data that causes its value to diminish and threatens publisher profitability.

Instead of inadvertently giving data away, publishers need to learn what it means to take control of their data and start putting it to use to boost audience engagement, increase digital advertising revenue, and drive more paid digital subscriptions.

A recent publishing profitability survey of nearly 400 United States publishing executives showed that 78% of publishers don’t know if third parties access their data, and whether or how they are monetising it. Furthermore, publishers don’t have a clear idea of who or how many third parties are ...


4 considerations when pairing marketing communications strategy with Big Data

03 August 2014 · By Greg Doufas

I don’t care how many coupons you send me, I am not buying your crappy pizza.

Amusing, or depressing, as the case may be, it often seems the old marketer’s adage still holds true. And although the expression may come from a time before it was fashionable to refer to things like “customer centricity,” that is the point.

In today’s reality, if you’re dealing with the challenges of operating a subscription- or relationship-based business model, your ability to compete by being customer-centric will only be proportionate to the maturity of your data strategy.

It’s been like this for a while.

Years ago, it was savvy marketers who caught on first. They realised that data and analytics could be leveraged to drive marketing communications more effectively, and direct marketing evolved into database marketing.

This sort of successful collaboration between business functions and data sciences further evolved into ...


The glass half empty: Has news publishing lost its mojo?

06 July 2014 · By John M. Lervik

Publishers are reputedly pessimistic by nature. But if nearly two out of three of them participating in a recent online publishing profitability survey are correct, there is solid justification for their negative outlook — but also a path to regain momentum.

In the survey, more than 65% of nearly 400 U.S. publishing executives said they believe the publishing industry is in for a long, slow slog – at least two to five years or more – before ad sales will start showing some real traction again.

That’s a rather dismal outlook on one’s business.

The survey, conducted by Cxense in conjunction with Editor & Publisher magazine, took the pulse on profitability in publishing. Perhaps most sobering of all the results was that more than one-third of respondents don’t believe ...


5 tips for selling subscriptions in a digital news universe

02 June 2014 · By John M. Lervik

For some stargazers, a view of the heavens with the naked eye suffices. But others – admittedly a smaller group – are more curious.

They want to identify the planets, glimpse Saturn’s rings, count the moons around Jupiter, or view our moon’s seas and craters – all of which require a good lens.   

The digital media business works in much the same way. Most readers surf the vast Web seeing what catches their eye, while a subset pays for favoured publication subscriptions where they can home-in on the content that most interests them.

This reality is not sustainable. After all, it costs money to create and manage a publisher site and its content. With revenue-generation a major priority, various subscription models are being tested at publications around the globe. But most have been slow to catch hold.   

So how do we convince site visitors that being able to home-in with a subscription “lens” is worth paying for?

It won’t be easy.

The Digital News Report from The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism shows ...


About this blog

The aim of the Big Data For News Publishers blog is to provide thought leadership to turn data-oil into a gold mine of opportunities. The blog will highlight case studies of how Big Data is used to bring more editorial relevancy, better audience engagement, and more value to advertising clients.

Meet the bloggers

Greg Bright
Chief Data Officer and Principal Architect
LEAP Media Solutions
Old Saybrook, Connecticut, USA
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Greg Doufas
Vice President
Data and Audience Intelligence
Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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June 2015 ( 1 )
May 2015 ( 1 )
February 2015 ( 1 )
December 2014 ( 1 )
October 2014 ( 1 )
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August 2014 ( 2 )
July 2014 ( 1 )
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April 2014 ( 2 )
March 2014 ( 1 )
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