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Big, small data support Ringier’s digital transformation

Big data and small data tools assist with content personalization, news marketing and increased reader engagement
Big data and small data tools assist with content personalization, news marketing and increased reader engagement

Ringier is a legacy media organisation, and our biggest challenge is digital transformation,” said Klaus Miller, head of digital research and analytics, at the Zurich-based international media company, which publishes more than 120 newspapers and magazines internationally.

Ringier has developed a mobile and digital strategy. “It was a lot of work to get print editors to work with mobile and digital, but they are open to the change,” Miller told delegates at INMA’s Big Data for Media conference at Google London on Friday.

Miller described how the company moved one of its newspapers, Blick am Abend, online in December 2013. The title is aimed at a young, mobile, urban audience. “A large source of our traffic is social, mainly Facebook, and 70% of the traffic is mobile,” Miller said.

Ringier’s Big Data strategy has been developed since 2011. “We use data to understand why things have happened, and we also want to move toward predicting why things happen,” Miller said.

He said the company’s analytics work focuses on five key areas: mobile, social, video, advertising, and technology.

Ringier uses both Big Data and small data

“Big Data tools we use are real-time dashboards, comment moderation, and the recommendation and personalisation of content,” he said.

Small data tools are reporting and content efficiency, headline optimisation, and consumer research.

Miller said the company uses real-time dashboards and analytics tools such as Chartbeat. The company has also developed its own tool called Life Monitor. Editorial decisions are still “driven by humans,” he said, rather than by software.

Data-mining tools used by Ringier to find news stories and determine social trends include Dataminr and Geofencing, a location-based software. Miller said Ringier editors use social media and crowd-sourcing to create news stories as well as data.

Comment moderation is done by software. Miller described a tool used by Ringier to enable readers’ comments to be moderated quickly and efficiently. “We use a tool to segment and analyse comments in real time.” The tool filters offensive language, capital letters, and content, which makes comment moderation much faster and saves money.

Personalised content recommendations increases reader engagement

Miller said Ringier uses semantic analysis and tagging of content to better understand content consumption: “We can tell if readers are male or female and what their interests are. We can then use this to display personal recommendations on the Web site, based on the data, as a way to keep our readers on the page for longer.”

Ringier extends this behavioural targeting across platforms within the group’s extensive network: “We use information across all our media brands within our networks, so if a reader looked at a car on one Web site, he would get a car ad on another,” he said.

Headline and teaser optimisation

Miller described a newly devised tool that uses data to work out which headlines work best. “We found out that if you speak directly to readers using ‘you’ and with a good picture, they click through. We are trying to find out why,” he said. With this data, Miller said his company could better advise editorial staff on the best tips for effective headline creation.

“We want to build this tool into the CMS, so that the system can pick the optimal headline,” Miller continued. “This will help us optimise our traffic.”

Enable consumer data sharing by providing exciting personalised services

“We want consumers to share the data voluntarily … we do not force them to do this. It is important to help the user, and use their information to give them a better experience and better service,” Miller said.

“We place a lot of emphasis on data security. We do not want to step across the line so that it does not backfire. We want a trusted relationship with the user,” he added.

Miller ended the session with three key takeaways:

  1. Big and small data can help drive content engagement and revenues. The editor should take responsibility for the article and help market the article.

  2. Individualised and exciting user experiences increase consumers’ willingness to share personal data. There has to be something in it for the reader.

  3. User is king, so guarantee data security and good data governance.

About Caroline Lees

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