I have been in the media industry for about 15 years. And today more than ever, I can say that media companies are starting to put the audience in the center of their business, with different approaches, diversity of strategies, and a wide portfolio of new technologies.

But nobody has the last word. As media companies, we have an interesting road to walk, and we must do it in the most effective way possible.

This road has many different components that we cannot pretend to address at the same time. Big Data, database journalism, multi-channel, OmniChannel, real-time marketing, behavioural targeting, anonymous vs. identified, DMP (data management platform), DSP (demand side platform), RTB (real-time bidding), targeted advertising, and targeted content are some concepts and technologies in this information era.

This is why is very important to having a roadmap that lets us move forward without getting lost along the way.

This audience roadmap is the backbone that supports our audience-based revenue model.

Data: the foundation. Having a corporate database holding all data about audiences converges is a key. Some critical success factor to take into account:

  • Database administration team from the business/marketing side.

  • Total data quality management.

  • Data privacy policies.

  • Raise and protect audience data as a corporate asset.

  • Permanent communication between business areas to identify changes that impact data (i.e., new Web site).

Information: data in business context. This data ranges from descriptive analytics to predictive analytics to generate real value added to the business. Key points:

  • Culture: Using information for decision-making.

  • Available and reliable information in an easy and fast way.

  • BICC (Business Intelligence Competency Center) inside the company.

  • Update and enrichment data strategies using multiple channels. Social channel is a key.

Knowledge: Information become knowledge when we action it with the audience. Define and built the company “audience map” is the heart of monetisation. Key factors:

  • Actionable knowledge. Quality over quantity.

  • Communicate to clients our audience knowledge beyond basic demographics.

  • Educate clients about new interaction possibilities with our audiences.

  • Strategic and permanent audience map maintenance. 

  • Knowledge at the service of the company but especially advertisers and audiences.

Strategy: Main components that have to interact together. Let’s see.

Audience management: Who in the company is responsible for audience management and development? Just one area? Multiple departments? Define responsiblilities but mainly the interaction process between different departments that have something to do with the audience. Your audience management team should be the liaison.

Audience “1-to-1” knowledge: Design and integrated registration strategy.

  • Anonymous user tracking.

  • Registered/identified user tracking.

  • Multi-platform, multi-device.

  • 360 degree = (anonymous + personal) + (offline + digital).

Revenue model: Combine traditional digital advertising pricing model (CPM) with the new performance-based model. 

  • The deeper knowledge about the audiences, the greater price for reach them.

  • Inside Web site architecture, have spaces to mass advertising and others to targeted advertising and content.

  • The audience first, no matter the brands they consume.
  • E-commerce: Consolidate the company as the best provider of transactional services that foster contact between supply and demand in an effective way.

Education and training: Training the market to buying audiences. Training the company to sell audiences.

    • Start a recurrent education process to sales force and clients about audience map.

    • Start an aggressive sales force education process for “selling audiences.”

    • Start an effective clients education process for “Buying audiences.”

    • Start a strong market communication plan about audiences.

    • Build a “Best in Class” analytics framework (people + process + technology).

Audience loyalty: Enhance the membership to other audiences beyond subscribers: readers, digital users, digital buyers, advertisers.

Partnerships: Enrich your audience data; promote your audience data.

    • Identify strategic data/information alliances.

    • Identify strategic data/information/brokers.

Do not forget the corporate pillars:

  • Strategic vision. Clear and aligned strategy inside management team and employees.

  • Team work and partnership. Strong interactions between key company teams that guarantee project and strategy sustainability.

  • Business model. Increasingly based on audiences more than products.

  • Human talent. Open to challenges, specialised, well trained and motivated.

  • “Sponsorship/partnership.” Because it’s a cross-company strategy, total support of board of directors is critical.

  • IT platform. Stable, integrated, flexible, fast.

  • Company culture. Information and audience oriented.

Bringing it all together

Developing an audience monetisation strategy can take time and skills that are different from, yet be complementary to, journalism. Beyond technology and processes, we will have great chances of success only if the entire company is aligned with this strategy.