Accenture emphasises using data to guide audience strategy

By Jalisa Haggins


Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States


On day two of the INMA South Asia News Media Summit last week, sponsored by the Google News Initiative, Stibo DX, and the Indian Newspaper Society, Accenture’s Neeraj Sharma explained how the way users interact with content has changed — and how publishers can use data to adapt to these changes and meet users’ needs.

Sharma, the managing director of strategy and consulting for the communications and media consulting company Accenture, said advertisers are creating their own direct-to-consumer content, platforms, and products to reach new audiences instead of going through publishers. Advertisers are now leveraging the growing content creation economy and publishers are responding by creating several niche-based products and platforms, allowing consumers to become active participants in content creation for publishers. 

Publishers face a three-dimensional challenge in creating audience strategy, Sharma said.
Publishers face a three-dimensional challenge in creating audience strategy, Sharma said.

Sharma broke down the challenge into three dimensions: 

  •  Breadth, or the reach an advertiser has: “The more people you have on your platform, the greater your power.” 

  • Depth and demographics. Sharma said publishers need to know more about their customers because more companies are looking for performance marketing. “Knowing what content your consumers are reading is not enough. You need to know their demographic age, gender, their affluence characterisation, what geography they are coming from, what kind of products they are buying, and their intent, as well as if they are in the market for a product or not.” 

  • Application of audience data. He said the most common use of data is through advertisements, but publishers can take several avenues, including personalised news feeds, coordinated content between platforms, and subscriptions.

Sharma explained that the main concerns about combining depth and breath are cost and privacy. He said the upfront cost of gathering in-depth data on consumers requires significant upfront investments, which makes crafting the audience strategy tough. On top of that, recent cookie deprecation, signal loss, and privacy concerns are making gathering data even harder: “Consumers are becoming more and more concerned about privacy, regulations are becoming tighter.” 

Building a strategy from data

Once those challenges are understood, publishers can create a strategy, which Sharma said consists of three steps:

  1. Start with a plan. Decide which audience to target and then begin building that desired audience. 

  2. Build living profiles. “Every consumer is always evolving, always changing,” Sharma said. “Their tastes are changing. Just because at one point in time you have tagged the consumer as having a certain affinity does not mean that their affinity is not changing over a period of time.”

  3. Run with agility. Sharma emphasised that it’s important for publishers to remain flexible when trying new tactics and strategies. He urged companies to learn from their failed tactics, adapt their strategies, and move forward.

Following these three steps can help publishers thrive in the ever-changing digital world.
Following these three steps can help publishers thrive in the ever-changing digital world.

Sharma emphasised that the digital world is ever changing and publishers need to change with it. “The world of media and entertainment has moved away from being the world of information and entertainment to a world of interaction and engagement,” he said.

About Jalisa Haggins

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