Big Data For News Publishers

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Big Data For News Publishers

In looming battle for identity, news publishers must claim their audience through more intelligent data

16 March 2014 · By Greg Doufas

Who are you? What do you like? And how will I know if we meet again?

If you want to talk about some of the most serious challenges facing the industry, these are the sorts of questions you are going need to come to terms with and understand the importance of. At their core, they are questions that hinge on the idea of identity.

By identity, I mean the ability to recognise, verify, and most importantly, establish a persistent one-to-one relationship with the reader, regardless of platform.

Unless you’re one of the few publishers that has implemented a “hard” registration wall as a gateway to your Web site/platform, chances are the majority of your readers are anonymous. Syndicated data and research studies are providing a more accurate picture of the uniqueness of your audience, but just at the aggregate level. They still lack the depth, dimension, and measurement necessary for a truly customer-centric view.

Simply put, regardless of how much behavioural or transactional data we collect, we often do not truly know who our readers are in a lasting and meaningful way. To be clear, I’m not just talking about having names in a database; I’m talking about a relationship based on trust, in which an identity is established in exchange for value.

This lack of direct connection is the sort of thing that should keep you up at night. I realise this is not exactly a new concept or an emerging phenomenon. But the consequences are now greater than just an inability to measure audiences accurately.  

Before exploring further, let’s take a step back.


Publishers: Take back your company’s Big Data revenue potential from tech middlemen

03 February 2014 · By John M. Lervik

When the digital revolution swept over the publishing landscape, profits for publishers largely got swept away.

With publishers anxious to find ways to make money through the digital landscape as their print profits dwindled, third-party middlemen swooped in to lend a helping hand, taking care of all that “technical stuff” on publishers’ behalf.

Those same third parties also kept publishers in the dark about how they were exploiting the publishers’ most valuable asset: digital data.

These intermediaries, some of which are publishers’ direct competitors, may not have had nefarious intentions, but they knew the value of the data goldmine publishers have always been sitting on.

But unlike publishers, they had the technical maturity and know-how to manipulate Big Data to achieve their own profitability goals. Exacerbating the issue was that the publishing industry was slow to embrace the digital age and missed out on some of the early breaks and benefits.

The lesson learned is that ceding control over data turned publishers into passengers on the digital journey, and the middlemen “took them for a ride.”

So here’s a question for publishers: Do you want to be passengers or drivers?

The ride has hit some bumps, but it’s far from over. Publishers can retake the wheel and start driving their own revenue generation with a little creativity and by taking back control of data.

A 2012 Pew Research Center report cited statistics from an eMarketer survey stating that tech companies are taking up to 68% of online ad dollars. The 2013 version of the report showed that while the middleman’s share of digital ad revenue remained stable, the digital ad market is growing at a much faster pace than any other advertising segment.


5 key strategy questions for today’s Big Data practitioners

29 December 2013 · By Greg Doufas

I remember how, as a young data analyst years ago, I used to love describing my analytical approach and methodology when dealing with business stakeholders.

Even when presenting my findings to senior management, I would proudly spend half the time articulating the complexity of the work required to achieve the results we would soon be discussing.

Reflecting back, it’s obvious some of that was simply my way of gaining credibility and authority within the organisation. It was a common issue not exclusive to me or my industry at the time.

There was, however, something larger at play.

Data analytics teams were becoming a must-have for any organisation, and it was often hard to figure out where and how these teams fit within an organisation. Business leaders were being challenged to evolve through better use of data and data-based technologies. They knew they had to; the benefits were becoming clearer. They just didn’t understand how.

These new data people were seen as an odd bunch — outsiders who lacked context, sometimes a threat. Let’s face it: The change wasn’t always embraced with open arms.

For all these reasons, it was easy to see how keen analytics professionals could often feel pressured to explain themselves far beyond what would seem logical, sometimes even aggressive in their assertions.

Eventually, through my own maturation, as well as some astute advice from wise mentors, I broke the habit and learned to trust in my own expertise and reputation. I learned to cut to the chase and focus on the insight and its value to the business. Validation of the awesomeness of the work (and its creator) could come later.

Winning over hearts and minds proved much more valuable than preaching how effective our statistical methods were. Those who prospered in our field understood tangible business results and realised benefits were the only factors worth obsessing over, regardless of the people, politics, and process at play.

Now in this relatively new era of all things Big Data, I’ve started feeling as if those bad old habits have begun manifesting themselves again, and in more pronounced ways.


7 tips for keeping Big Data in perspective

29 September 2013 · By Dirk Milbou

In a previous post, Big Data ambitions were compared to the Gold Rush, when those who provided tools to dig the gold were the ones who earned money in the first place.

This reminds me of the 1990s, when many companies invested in huge customer relationship management (CRM) systems that fell under the umbrella term “database marketing.” These systems often were driven by information and communication technology (ICT) or operational departments, and stressed “database management” over “marketing.”

At that time, information was mainly collected via surveys (declared behaviour) and did not give the business people a great deal of insight. It was difficult to effectively track proven behaviour and, therefore, create uplifts for marketers. So they lost interest.

Since the digital revolution, publishers are in a better position than ever before to collect plenty of information about consumers and their habits, needs, and wants. This daily, interactive contact with large audiences generates “big” data. So “big” systems are needed to capture this proven behaviour.

For many companies, Big Data equals Hadoop, the system that collects all that big data, regardless of why they need it and how they plan to use it. When gathered this way, however, Big Data becomes simply “Big Useless Data” that creates noise and obscures the signal in our data. The noise is increasing faster than the signal.

Then again, just like in the ’90s, right-brained editorial and business staff will quickly lose interest in it.

No wonder, then, that a new analyst report indicates that enterprises are deriving far less value from Big Data than they expect, or even than they invest.

Dramatically less, according to preliminary findings from Wikibon research, which found 46% of Big Data practitioners were only partially successful with their projects. They hear it’s a big deal and throw money at it without really understanding what they’re hoping to achieve. Two percent even had to write off their investments as complete failures.

Just like the CRM-bubble in the ’90s….


Unlocking the revenue potential behind Big Data for publishers

09 September 2013 · By Dirk Milbou

We all know there is more data available than ever. No need to repeat the exponential growth of data: from penta- to zeta- into yottabites, which seems to be the latest geek term on it.

Historically, publishers were always in the forefront of collecting data, thanks to the penetration of their newspapers and their frequent contact with readers.

But since the evolution from print to digital and mobile — and thus the growing interactivity with large audiences — publishers are more than ever very well placed to collect lots of information about consumers, their habits, their needs, and their wants.

The catch-all term for it is “Big Data,” where “big” stands for an interminable volume of data, a limitless velocity of the (real-time) data-streams, and an endless variety of consumer information. Not only socially desirable “declared behaviour,” like in the old days, but also daily proven behaviour and interests that publishers can derive from reading and buying habits.

But where exactly is the potential behind big data for publishers? And how do we unlock it?

Data is said to be the new oil. This is certainly true for companies that provide other companies with specialised data solutions. It’s like the Gold Rush, when those who provided tools to dig the gold were the ones who earned money in the first place.

It seems also to be true for companies such as Google and Facebook and Apple, the new technology driven kids on the block, which have less system legacies and business models mainly based on “data.” 

But where is the added value for publishers? Where is the added value for the consumer and advertiser?


Introduction: Big Data for news publishers

15 August 2013 · By Dirk Milbou

Publishers have more data available than ever, coming from multiple sources. As publishers have frequent contact and a growing interactivity with large audiences they are very well placed to collect lots of information about consumers and their habits. The catch-all term for it is “Big Data,” where “big” stands for an interminable volume of data, a limitless velocity of real-time data-streams, and an endless variety of consumer information.

Data is said to be the new oil, but most publishers struggle to leverage these data into insights both for editorial purposes, for audience marketing, and for advertising solutions. Publishers are drowning in data, but not capitalising on it. Information is often locked within multiple channels and different functional and application silos. Publishers have difficulty gaining a 360-degree consumer view and a shortage of deep insight and foresight that can be used for business advantage.

Enter INMA with a new blog: Big Data For Publishers.

This is a platform to provide INMA members with learnings, best practices, and thought leadership to turn this data-oil into a gold mine of opportunities. We want to identify and communicate cases, trends and possibilities in this area, and to share vision on related topics such as privacy, technology, and more.

So INMA is active looking for data-driven media cases on how Big Data is used to bring more editorial relevancy, better audience engagement and more value to our advertising clients.


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 Doufas
Vice President
Data and Audience Intelligence
Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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John M. Lervik
Co-founder, CEO
Oslo, Norway
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Dirk Milbou
CRM Manager
De Persgroep Publishing NV
Asse, Belgium
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Blog archives

March 2014 ( 1 )
February 2014 ( 1 )
December 2013 ( 1 )
September 2013 ( 2 )
August 2013 ( 1 )

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