Media companies share digital, data success stories at INMA’s Ideas Day seminar

By Dirk Milbou

Editors note: INMA’s next Ideas Day, March 28 at Amsterdam Airport, will focus on advertising. To register or get more information, click here. Share one idea, leave with 20.

Patrick Glenisson started KBC’s Big Data journey five years ago. Glennison, manager of marketing analytics at KBC, guided this financial institute to make its data more actionable and embed it into the business. During his keynote opening presentation at Ideas Day in London, he explained lessons learned and booby-traps discovered during that process.

KBC closed the gap between business intelligence and consumer actions with lifecycle management, predictive modeling, and integrated marketing optimisation. KBC went from overflow of ad hoc requests and poor awareness on the importance of data towards a new environment with real time insights, easy accessible and understandable to all, turning data insights into automated action and ROI measurement.

Glenisson discussed how to “eat the Big Data elephant” bit by bit, including the need for data translators rather than scientists, the capability to think end-to-end and the implications on the organisational changes involved. He stressed starting this process not by technology but by people. Begin the processes before planning the necessary technology route.

Thomas Lee, vice president of sales at Cxense, discussed how to go from the classical Madmen scenario towards a Mathmen future. Thomas stated only a few publishers worldwide have used Big Data so far, and if they do, they only use it to their own advantage.

According to Thomas, publishers are perfectly positioned to action Big Data the same way does — to understand your audience and, from there, promote relevant content, promote relevant products, increase subscriptions, and provide targeted advertising. Cxense is supporting publishers with tools to help them gather audience insights and act upon them in real time.

As research revealed that 59% of its audience owned a digital reflex camera, last year The Irish Times re-positioned its classic photography competition, The Irish Times Amateur Photographer of the Year, an integrated digital print, and physical experience. The results?

  • 29% of the targeted audience entered a photo into the competition (8,000 photos) paying €20,000 in entrance fees. (Important note: Asking money to enter a photo encourages self-curation).
  • The photographs entered generated 50,000 additional unique visitors for the awards Web site and brought in €250,000 in ad revenue.

Peter Barron, director of communications for Google and host of the day, demonstrated Big Data is not only valuable for audience or advertising marketers, but also for journalists. Barron showed the INMA audience how Google enables media houses to explore search trends on Google, how to correlate and visualise them.

Google provides insights to journalists at a glance (e.g. Malaysian Airlines is trending in Google search this week), helping editors find and build stories by correlating different search trends — not only on the Web, but also in all the books Google has digitised.

Google also provides tools to explore and visualise data, as well as to make it interactive (even in video formats). Barron explained how to use the analytics on YouTube to turn the Web site into world’s biggest focus group.

German publisher Verlag Dierichs is feeding its audience “Kassel Live,” with a constant live news stream. Two young journalists use free software and tools (like tumblr) to produce a continuous live news stream on what’s happening in Kassel. This experiment turned out to become a strategic move for the media company, explained Jens Naehler, head of HNA Online at Verlang Dierichs.

Kassel Live became the fastest way to bring news in an entertaining format to the digital audience. The test started in late 2013; 1,883 entries are posted each month, of which 40% are in video format. This enabled the company to easily integrate other newsroom members easily, as well as to easily aggregate and integrate citizen journalists and user-generated content. 

Kassel Live is a simple idea that brings in new revenues for the local news brands. The next step is to switch from tumblr to Wordpress and introduce geo-location data in the content streams.

In October, 2013, Gazeta Wyborcza launched a new, multi-media editorial channel called “Money Extra.” This channel is derived from the personal brand strength of Gazeta’s finance editor, who started his own blog five years ago and collected on his own 190,000 unique and very engaged users monthly on his personal blog, explained Grzegorz Piechota, head of editorial development at Agora/Gazeta Wyborcza. 

Gazetta decided to do something with the blog and opened it up as a multi-media channel, which consists of a print section, Web site, blog, Facebook stream, radio show, frequent TV appearances by the author, live events, books, etc. This new “channel” is supported by a strong advertising and massive, on-going PR campaign.

Within six months, “Money Extra” reached 1.3 million unique visitors monthly, selling 187,000 single copies on Wednesday (+12%) and the blogger became economy journalist of the year in 2013.

Research on the topic of how to raise willingness to pay for digital content conducted by De Standaard in Belgium revealed users need something different: not a paper, not a Web site, not the hard news, and not a magazine — but something new in between. That’s why De Standaard created a new product and launched dSAvond one year ago, according to Johan Mortelmans, director of e-media at Mediahuis.

The Flemish newspaper designed this digital evening edition of its morning newspaper specifically for tablets, with the goal of raising subscribers’ willingness to pay for digital content. dSAvond has a more relaxed voice, an attractive graphical design, and was positioned as a fremium offer to subscribers of the morning newspaper. 

Although the product itself received quite positive user feedback, it seemed very difficult to change the habits of the readers. Just 15% of the existing subscribers use dsAvond during an average day. To enhance that number, De Standaard recently decided to translate the tablet concept to the smartphone. Due to the initial set-up of the concept and the specific characteristics of the tablet version, that wasn’t that easy to do. The smartphone edition of dSAvond was launched in mid-March.

Eidos Media, a technology company from Italy, believes in translating content to mobile. According to Patrick Mahwood, managing director for the U.K. company, media companies that do not recognise the exponential growth of mobile access to news content run the risk of being left behind.

Eidos Media’s multi-channel solution, Méthode, provides many different ways for delivering content to tablets and smartphones, including an exclusive mix of the power of native apps with the benefits of responsive design, for unparalleled flexibility. Mahwood used the example of “grandma’s app” to turn printed recipes into a dynamic and functional mobile app.

Archant Magazines, a regional media publisher, recently produced hundreds of different apps to experiment more easily with the triangle of content, audience, and advertisers and to have more speed to introduce new tools, new features and new technology in the company.

Vorarlberg Online (VOL.AT) is Austria’s largest regional news portal, although it is made for the country’s second smallest, Vorarlberg. VOL.AT's new mobile app and Web version, launched in November 2013, was to become a functional tool to make life in the Vorarlberg region easier, Gerold Riedmann, CEO of Russmedia Digital, explained.

The app, that originally carried only news, became “digital Swiss Army knife” with an array of regional and data driven service, Riedmann said. Now it carries not only journalism, but also functional data driven tools and citizen generated content. A specific mobile app is launched in mid-March.

Steffen Damborg form Denmark gave INMA Ideas Day participants an overview of the different paid content business models implemented by three different Danish newspapers and the results two years after the introduction of digital subscriptions across the Danish industry.

Five national Danish titles run by two companies serve a market of 5.5 million people across Denmark. It’s a subscription-based market with a high penetration. As subscription sales were declining by 6% to 8% and advertising sales were declining by 5%, all national titles introduced paywalls last year, but in some different formats:

  • Politiken introduced a metered model with 25 articles for free per month.

  • Berlingske als used a metered model with 10 free articles per month.

  • Posten introduced a fremium model with light news for free and premium content (long narratives, reviews, comments) only available to subscribers, not metered.

Results? A growth in subscribers with 10% with conversion rates between 1% and 2% of unique visitors. The fremium model seemed to outperform metered models, raising loyalty and adding value to the core customers, paying  €600 per year. 

Gazeta Wyborcza in Poland changed its paywall strategy recently, opening up its content into a fremium model, with only 10% of content behind a paywall. This replaces a metered model with 10 articles for free per month, selling three digital packages (different by device; the premium offer also contained the monthly magazine). Gazetta didn’t offer digital and print bundles, and prices vary between  €4 and  €10 per month. Agora, publisher of Gazeta Wyborrca, introduced internally a new dictionary: “readers” instead of “users,” “articles read” instead of “pageviews,” and a “satisfaction rate” instead of “articles per visit.”

Anna Philipson, head of digital marketing, Sweden’s NTM Media, is running a start-up in Sweden called “Riktad.” This start-up should help NTM Media tackle three challenges:

  1. Build a digital culture.

  2. Go from reach to targeting.

  3. Create a 100% focus on digital.

Riktad is a digital agency, meant to become the first choice for small- to medium-sized business (SMBs) when it comes to products and services for their digital marketing. The fast expanding sales force of Riktad is helping SMBs successfully with a full range of digital service solutions: social media, SEM, SEO, conversion, Google analytics, targeted display, RTB, and Web site or video production.

Viv Maher, head of online at The Irish Times, told the Ideas Day audience how the media company drove traffic of its “Food and Drink'”section up 400% — not only by using all of Irish Times media assets such as print, events, PR, social, video, digital and editorial, but also by more direct involvement of the advertisers themselves. The Irish Times monetised this extra traffic in clever integrated ways: advertorial and content sponsorship grew with 500%. 

Fredrik Petterson, rich media specialist at Dagbladet in Norway, created an impressive HTML5 gamification ad, based on playing with LEGO Chima and LEGO Friends characters, as well as teaching readers all about the LEGO product in a playful way. The campaign ran only on mobile and tablet, and was a pure competition with three questions, inviting the participant to enter to win vouchers for free LEGO products.

Dagbladet tracked all interactions with the ads. After running the campaign for three weeks, staff had gathered enough data to create a very exciting report on how Dagbladet readers interacted with the ad and got involved with the LEGO brand.

Anne Saloranta, product manager at Helsingin Sanomat, introduced a new approach towards advertisers. The Finnish media company started measuring not only “reach” but also used reading time analytics to provide “engagement indicators” to its advertisers, all linked back to user data. The goal was to create a report, delivered within 24 hours, proving the effectiveness of an ad — not only in clicks and pageviews but complemented by engagement scores over all platforms and devices, drilled down on socio-economic and demographic segment by segment.

Trevor Nadeau, managing director of BuzzBoard Europe, stressed the fact media companies need to simplify data to support their advertising sales teams — especially the teams going to small- and medium-sized (often local) enterprises. To do so, BuzzBoard developed a solution to automate analytics on SME’s digital capabilities and presence, automatically turning it into an infographic that benchmarks each individual SME’s digital presence within his region or his vertical. This infographic enables the SME sales force a selling solution and a way to convert the SME into new digital arenas like mobile, social location-based advertising, SEO, SEA, and social media.

About Dirk Milbou

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