The New York Times and News Corp are examples of news media companies doing data right, David Mathison, CEO/chief digital officer at Summit and CEO Club, said at the recent INMA Business Strategies 2020 Conference in Chicago.

“They've really brought on not only individuals to run the show but also entire teams,” Mathison said. 

People like Rachel Schutt, the chief data officer at News Corp and a Columbia University statistician.

“She’s got a dedicated team under her, and it really is looking at drop-off rates and where people have stopped reading certain articles and when they’ve clicked over to an advertisement. Then filling all that data to figure out if people are continuing to subscribe or click onto advertisments to ... maximise their revenue potential from advertisements.”

Over at The New York Times, Chris Wiggins is doing similar work as chief data scientist (and also a Columbia University statistician).

But not everyone is doing data at this high level, Mathison said.

“The ones that arent doing it right, the ones that are not as successful, are really not taking advantage of the data that theyre getting.

Theres a wealth of analytics, a wealth of data out there. The big challenge is how do we create predictive and prescriptive analytics on top of that data to make solid business decisions?

What do news media companies need to do now to be successful in 2020? Follow the models that are working, Mathison said:

  • Start-ups like BuzzFeed and Digiday.
  • Viral marketing on social media.
  • Recommendation sites like Yelp.

Sometimes media companies consider the customer an after thought. But all of these other companies like Yelp, the customer is the company.... You need to be embracing the customer and making the customer part of the company.