The most important use of data at Dow Jones is “to best understand our customers, the segments they belong to, and what it is that drives their engagement with our products,” Clancy Childs, the company’s chief product and technology officer, explained at Big Data for Media Conference in London in 2017. 

“With that information from analytics, we basically figure out ways to increase their engagement and make coming to our products more of a habit for them,” Childs said. “We also use and mine large data sets large of content published by Dow Jones and others to better build risk and compliance data sets, for instance, so structured data that is used by financial institutions and corporates to better understand who they are able to do business with.”

His advice for other media companies?

Identify what are the biggest problems or goals across an organisation to solve. Using data and then just trying to figure out what products can come from data is almost a guaranteed failure state.

Instead, working with a cross-functional team to understand truly what are the biggest business problems — whether it’s subscription increases, churn redunction, engagement, habit forming, ad targeting, segmentation. And then targeting a specific finite set of problems, really scoping it tightly, and then keeping a small team at first to try to innovate around ideas for solving those problems.