3 key goals for Axel Springer’s data strategy future

By William Maxwell McKeon-White

Ithaca College

Ithaca, New York, USA


What exactly are the responsibilities of the “head of data innovation” at Axel Springer?

According to Dr. Jana Moser, holder of the aforementioned position, it is more accurately the “head of critics fighter,” she joked (sort of) with the audience at the Big Data Media Conference, a joint venture of World Newsmedia Network (WNMN) and INMA, at Thomson Reuters’ Manhattan headquarters.

Due to the distributed nature of Axel Springer’s holdings, creating a centralised data system has been a constant challenge. Not only have the data sets come in often incompatible data sets, but some of the more confident brands seek to retain sole control over their information, Moser said.

Now, everyone is working on big data. Not only the big tech companies, but media companies as well. To remain competitive, especially with larger brands like Facebook and Google, a centralised system is a necessity to create a better experience for its users and to inform the company how to proceed, Moser said.

In the increasingly crowded field of big data, what is the innovation of Axel Springer? Succinctly, as Moser explained, the company seeks to leverage its established reputation as a company with strong subsidiaries, encouraging cooperation and expansion through established specialised companies.

At the same time, it seeks to protect consumer rights and ensure that all users are aware to the level in which they will participate.

In the end, Axel Springer has created a bottom-up approach to encourage cooperation between its many branches, Moser said. While each subsidiary may possess large quantities of data, in comparison to the group, it is incredibly small. Combined, the information possible to be gathered gives Axel Springer a distinct market advantage.

Moving forward, Moser has laid out a plan for the expansion of Axel Springer’s capabilities as it sets out to be one of Europe's premiere digital media platforms. It begins with Axel Springer establishing itself as an independent data collection entity, seeking to no longer be dependent on third parties, primarily market dominating U.S. based entities.

With this goal in mind, Axel Springer sets down three steps to further establishing itself:  

  1. Create a “data ecosystem.” Improve data quality and enable cross device tracking. Create a service ecosystem with shared data.

  2. Own unique user ID: Be independent of third party IDs, allowing a strong market position

  3. Direct customer relationship: Be independent of deleted cookies, and increase registrations and frequency

Axel Springer has begun this process. The company has already established a single user ID across classifieds, paid models, and marketing models. As soon as partnerships are secured with offline browsing and e-commerce systems, the single ID model will be expanded to these sectors as well. Soon, single registration will be implemented. Future expansions will be covered by this single user ID and registration.

A core concept of this plan, however, is user understanding and consent. Consumer willingness and awareness is one of the guiding principles of the expansion, and Axel Springer is working to ensure user rights, while at the same time moving towards this big data expansion.  

One unique advantage of this approach is it will better assist Axel Springer in complying with impending tough EU law, potentially better than its international competition. While U.S. companies with a big data facet will have to reorganise their entire approach to data collection and collation, Axel Springer will emerge onto the scene already compliant. Additionally, it will allow for better appeal to EU citizens, who have demonstrated themselves as concerned with their privacy.

About William Maxwell McKeon-White

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