Data-driven marketing is hardly new. For proof, think of how long you’ve been receiving credit card and insurance offers in the mail, and how often you receive them.

Marketers continue to employ this tactic because it works, but the most successful operations aren’t the result of a single mailing list and a huge postage bill. In fact, they’re the culmination of years of refinement and audience curation, paying attention to response rates and conversions over months, years, and decades.

This is important to remember in these data-centric times, especially for online marketing.

Provide value to advertisers with data-driven information they understand.
Provide value to advertisers with data-driven information they understand.

Online behaviour has opened up new ways of targeting consumers, but the wealth of data doesn’t necessarily mean that data-driven marketing is any easier. If anything, it requires just as much time, effort, and consideration than it did in the past.

News media organisations that want to seize the opportunity in online advertising should be putting considerable thought into their data operations, while at the same time exhibiting as much patience as they can as that data team gets off the ground.

The INMA’s Big Data for Media 2.0 report states “the most robust and successful media organisations agree that building a company-wide data strategy requires buy-in, investment, and hands-on involvement from the highest rungs of management.”

Nothing could be truer. Building a worthwhile operation requires lots of consideration about which partners to use, how the data will be used, and the amount the operation will rely on internal and external data.

The rubber meets the road when it comes to sales and client services. If your news media organisation has taken the time to build a solid data team and plan, it’s still a challenge to convince advertisers to leverage what you’ve put in place.

Your organisation may know that data is the future, but advertisers — especially the smaller ones — can sometimes lag well behind the industry trends.

To succeed and get advertisers to buy into pilot campaigns, you’ll need to sell them on the outcomes and what’s in it for them, rather than just the potential of a shiny new toy.

Data is scary, especially at the SMB level. No small business owners want to spend all of their time sorting through spreadsheets to figure out how advertising is doing. The thought alone probably makes them quiver with anxiety!

Instead, develop an approach that makes it easy for them. Build a team that can translate the data for your advertising partners so they’re comfortable. Honestly, you could invest all the money in the world in the best technology, and it means nothing if your advertising partners aren’t comfortable working with your data operation.

All of these pieces are vital to long-term success in the media industry, especially as it relates to digital. Building a successful data operation is far more complicated than signing a contract with a technology platform or storing all of your audience data on a server.

Carefully consider how you want the data to be used and how you’ll help your advertiser base use it. If you build around those questions, you’ll be well-positioned for the long term.