Edoardo Jacucci, vice president of global identity products at Schibsted Media Group, has developed a three-pronged strategy for the changing media environment: “We must create strong leadership and governance to turn data analytics ‘done in the free time’ to advanced data analytics as our DNA of how we run Schibsted as a digital company.” 

To be a competitive modern and digital media company, Jacucci convinced Schibsted it was critical for data to be a key component of strategy moving forward. Now, Schibsted, a 175-year-old institution, is a company evolving with the times, trying to move into the “Big Data fastlane.”

Edoardo Jacucci explains how Schibsted is trying to move into the “Big Data fastlane.”
Edoardo Jacucci explains how Schibsted is trying to move into the “Big Data fastlane.”

Active in Norway, France, and further internationally, Schibsted is the “Proctor and Gamble” of media organisations, a holding group for its subsidiary brands, Jacucci told the audience at the Big Data Media Conference, a joint venture of World Newsmedia Network (WNMN) and INMA, at Thomson Reuters on Thursday. 

Since 2013, Schibsted uncharacteristically albeit prudently has acted as a steering force for its branches to modernise all of its subsidiaries. Since the initial change, Schibsted has been accelerating and is targeting three priorities moving forward. 

  • Data-driven advertising: More and more value has been retained by those who own data, and as such Schibsted has prioritised the ability to retain sovereignty over its users information. 

  • Personalisation: Ensuring that the experience is enjoyable and relatable for every user. 

  • User growth: Such growth is vital to ensure competitiveness in the digital age. 

These three guiding principles have helped Schibsted develop a strong movement towards data-driven media distribution. 

The strength of Schibsted is its pre-established and storied history of operation internationally. As such Schibsted began in a position within an established ecosystem, rich in information. CapitaliSation on this information was the next step in development of digital systems.

From 2013, the digital data team has grown three-fold, focusing on retention of information and infrastructure. Now, three years later, Schibsted is able to collect 600 million events a day, and is still rapidly expanding. 

Now, able to collect and retain information, Schibsted is able to move into the analytics stage of data analysis. With profiling, Schibsted has been able to slowly create profiles on its users, to better understand its user base.

Using these profiles, Schibsted has grown its “predictive accuracy” of gender of users to “very high” rates (number intentionally withheld). A slightly more complicated task is determining age. However, utilising classifieds and associated searches, Schibsted has been able to develop preliminary predictive analyses. 

On the subject of personalisation and improving user experience, Schibsted has begun to develop widgets and is developing a personalised stream. A primary and unique focus of these activities is to prevent a “filter bubble” and bridge the gap between what people know and what they don’t, not just provide something someone with something that they will click on.

Schibsted is developing a distinct identity in the data-driven world moving forward, and is using this uniqueness to better serve its readers.

Through this immense three-year process, Schibsted and Jacucci’s team have come away with a variety of lessons and key strategies news media companies need when considering their data strategies:

  • A product and technology working in cooperation with data infrastructure development.  
  • Platforms that enable local additive innovation. This provides real-time feedback to the journalists, to better create cooperation between author and readers.  
  • The ability to “ride the wave of data science democratization” or to move with competition in a fluid and reactive manner. 

Moving towards the future, Schibsted is working primarily with identity. Data is always going to be strategically important. However, instead of simple observation, the future lies in a dialogue with users. How do we create one-on-one journalism? How do we create a market-place for our users? 

Moving forward, the company wants to create a personalised environment to encourage users to enter into a continuous dialogue with Schibsted as a company. Yet, staff also wants to protect users and their privacy: “We want users to be empowered in their information and what we collect.”