Big Data: What is it? What to do with it? How to take advantage of it?

All questions being asked by everyone in advertising — from the advertiser looking to take advantage of the realms of customer data he has, to the newspaper publisher who has mountains of information surrounding her users’ reading behaviours and interests.

Big Data and audience are hot topics in media right now, and traditional print publishers are at the forefront of effectively leveraging this data. Many articles prognosticate the “end of print” and that “print is dead” without coherently itemising how the end of newsprint shall come to be.

The piece they’re missing is that print/media publishers know more about their audiences than many pure-play digital Web sites.

In other words, their Big Data is also Better Data.

Most of what these shortsighted articles fail to analyse is the role content plays and how it relates to gathering potent and compelling user data.

The analysis and segmentation of data that can come from readers consuming premium news content is where print/media publishers gain an upper hand. Readers are just not moving through Web sites looking at images or checking someone’s social update; they are reading in-depth articles about specific content.   

As Tier 1 firms such as Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn have demonstrated, capturing inferred audience habits and interests is extremely important. But those metrics also have many limitations. The traditional publisher with content and multiple touchpoints that gather user behaviour becomes more compelling.

Multi-platform measurement — from browser traffic on desktop, mobile, or tablet, to smartphone or tablet application traffic, to even next-generation devices like smart TVs or gaming consoles — is the new gold.

Analysing and segmenting data based on users’ cross-platform reading habits is critical. But don’t leave out the conventional hard-core print subscribers and the online pay-for-content subscription model that also is a factor in collecting sustainable user data. 

There is much to be said about traditional audience traffic based on tried and true subscriber data. Being able to align that offline print data with online user behaviour gives print publishers another advantage, and this is where traditional print publishers have a leg-up on pure-play digital Web sites. 

Diversity in data collection is harnessed by including paid print subscribers and also provides an opportunity to increase revenue with smarter advertising opportunities. 

Matching relevant advertising becomes much more interesting and effective when mashing together offline and online user data.

Traditional publishers have the capability of using their multiple data sources to create unique and highly relevant audience segments that advertisers can target online. Building powerful and robust audience segments based on premium content provides advertisers direct access to their ideal consumer.

Big Data is a complex topic that many don’t understand. They don’t know how to properly collect the relevant data or turn it into a valuable asset for their organisations.

Print publishers are fortunate to not only have a vast amount of online data, but also rich offline data that can be used to create extremely valuable audience segments to offer their advertisers.

Big Data is important. Better data is more important.