The potential number of users in France for Les Echo is five million, according to Frédéric Filloux, general manager for digital operations at the media company and author of Monday Note.

Currently, its audience is four million. Les Echo treats readers as customers, and extracting more value from them is the only option.

The split between volume and value has never been greater, Filloux said. He gave examples of BuzzFeed and The New York Times. The first has a monthly audience of 180 million, the second, 45 million. 

But the valuation of their users differs even more. For BuzzFeed, it is between US$0.5 and US$1. For The New York Times, it’s between US$4 and US$6. So the difference is four to 12 times greater in favour of The New York Times, or even 200 times greater when subscription is included.

France’s Les Echo has been aggressive with new digital initiatives lately, Filloux said. What seems to be most important to the media company at the moment is knowing about its audience as much as possible. 

Filloux compared collecting data to a person’s passport. Each visit on a Web site helps build the person’s profile. Building such profile is essential for later steps: targeting, recommendations, up-selling, and subscriptions.

Les Echo, for example, can build such profile of a user, who is a women, in her 40s, working in Toulouse, in the aerospace industry, in the finance department, and with a high position. In such case, Filloux said, understands that a publisher should be able to serve her:

  • Targeted advertising.

  • Editorial recommendations.

  • Special deals on ancillary products (conferences, surveys, etc.).

  • Subscription offers. 

This is the way it should work, Filloux said. Les Echo is not there yet, but is working hard to operate like that, which should help increase the reach of content and advertising.

For Les Echo, editorial data is just as important as profile data. Filloux sees three important phases for editorial in today’s media companies: 

  • Phase 1: Tag your content, all of it. Without tags, content is dead. The article is the new entry point. Semantic footprint is the real value of the content.

  • Phase 2: Use this semantic as a lingua franca to link content in the broader ecosystem.

  • Phase 3: Link this to Twitter genome.

Les Echo is mapping the data through: external database, reader profiling, semanticized content, traffic data, video scripts, Twitter analytics.

All of this should be available through application programming interface (APIs). With correct APIs, publishers can extract all the data needed with a few clicks.