United Daily News reimagined its digital advertising strategy through data

By Michelle Palmer Jones


Nashville, Tennessee, United States


The data mission for United Daily News in Taiwan isn’t just a tool for driving sales. They see data as a way to build relationships and leave a lasting impact on both its audience and advertisers. 

That’s why the Taiwanese news media company has a dedicated data team of 25 analysts and engineers tasked with not just transforming the local media landscape but also making impactful changes through a data-driven culture.

Anson Mok, general manager of data development, looks at data as having a transformative power in how it helps media companies understand their audiences, personalise their offerings, optimise their strategies and even predict future trends. He shared the companys digital advertising strategy during the recent INMA Asia/Pacific News Media Summit.

United Daily News sees an average of 60 million unique visitors every month and has more than 7 million registered members who actively engage with their content. While the business crosses various different departments like subscription advertising, events and conferences, syndication, sponsored content and e-commerce, Mok sees one of the biggest areas of data-driven growth in digital advertising. 

Mok started his presentation with some pretty impressive results. Since the start of its data-driven advertising strategy, United Daily News has seen a 200% lift in click-through rates compared to its ordinary display ads. They’ve also seen 50% penetration in direct sales. 

Anson Mok, general manager of data development at United Daily News, shared the framework of the company's data-driven target advertising strategy.
Anson Mok, general manager of data development at United Daily News, shared the framework of the company's data-driven target advertising strategy.

Recognising a huge shift in Taiwan towards digital advertising, this is where United Daily News wanted to focus its data-driven efforts. They also saw that digital ad spending has nearly doubled in Taiwan from 2018 to 2022. What this meant for United Daily News was that if they didn’t focus on integrating data into their product strategy and advertising business, they’d not only be left behind, they’d also be overlooking an enormous opportunity to speak to their increasingly digital audience.

“Understanding what drives the digital consumer, what attracts their attention, how to engage them, and what ultimately leads them to click that button is critical — and it’s data that provides these insights,” Mok said.

Four-prong approach 

United Daily News looked at four pillars to help them drive the success of their data journey. 

1. They needed to make sure their content management system, Web sites, apps, and newsletters all could interact with data.

2. United Daily News collects and analyses all the relevant data in terms of content like articles and photos as well as in terms of user profiles, including demographics, geographics, psychographics and social behaviour. 

The four pillars of United Daily News' data strategy.
The four pillars of United Daily News' data strategy.

3. They dont observe the data in a vacuum, they also react to current market trends: “We understand the importance of emerging technologies, the prominence of first party data, the event of programmatic advertising, and the necessity for content personalisation,” Mok said.

4. United Daily News is cautious to segment and identify their audience among casual visitors, registered members, paying customers and loyal subscribers: “We understand their varying interests and behaviour patterns, helping us to serve each one of them with tailored offerings,” Mok said.

Redefining advertising strategies

With a four-prong approach to data, came three key strategies for reimagining how United Daily News looked at their advertising business. 

The three key ways United Daily News reimagined its ad business.
The three key ways United Daily News reimagined its ad business.

  • Being flexible and agile is a must. They know and understand the media landscape changes quickly, new technologies appear out of seemingly nowhere, and audience behaviour evolves constantly.
  • United Daily News pushes to connect their audience and advertisers more effectively. “We recognise and appreciate the increasing diversity of our audience,” Mok said. “Theyre changing expectations and intensifying competition in the marketplace.” They’re not just acknowledging this as fact but proactively acting on the insights from the data here.
  • Value is crucial. United Daily News isn’t just chasing clicks. They pride themselves in their comprehensive offerings, their transparency, scalability in their operations and efficiency in their process: “Our philosophy is grounded in data-driven decision making, meaning we leverage data to guide our strategy at every stage from ideation to execution and beyond,” Mok said.“The digital age has provided us with a wealth of information about who our audience is, what they want, and how they consume content. Using this data, were not only keeping pace with changes in consumer behaviour, but also proactively anticipating and leading these changes.”

Putting it into practice

Four pillars and three key strategies don’t mean much to United Daily News if they can’t put it into practice.  So the next piece of the data puzzle is the product and service portfolio developed by the data team. 

There are six key functions: 

  1. Audience, research, and Insights: United Daily News digs into large amounts of data to better understand their audience, their needs, preferences and behaviours, and how all those things evolve over time.

  2. Content creation management: United Daily News produces and manages relevant and engaging content tailored to the audience preferences.

  3. Omni-channel marketing: If the audience is everywhere, so is United Daily News. This approach helps them ensure they deliver personalised experiences across all touchpoints like on desktop and mobile for example.

  4. Media planning and processing: This is where United Daily News decides what to communicate to whom through what channels to ensure maximum impact and efficiency.

  5. Data analysis and reporting: This is the engine that powers their operation, according to Mok. They mine the data for insights, measure their performance and provide reports that help with strategic decisions.

  6. Research and development: United Daily News invests heavily here to make sure they stay at the forefront of tech and industry advancements.

Mok spent a little more time on what he called the most critical area of the six: media planning and processing. 

“This component is essentially the heart of our advertising strategy,” Mok said. “It involved deciding which media platform our ads will run on to reach the highest possible percentage of our target audience in the most cost effective way.”

The product lines cater to the differing needs of their advertisers. They have a funnel approach that starts from the bottom up. The first bottom tier of the funnel is brand oriented products. Through machine learning and AI algorithms, United Daily News looks for audiences that have previously engaged with a brand’s campaigns.

“By using patent recognition, were able to extend our reach and identify others with similar behaviour,” Mok said. “This allows us to curate content that resonates with their interests and thereby deepens their relationship with the brand.”

The next tier up is the ad category and industry oriented approach. The scope here broadens slightly. United Daily News identifies audiences that have expressed interest in not a specific brand but an ad category. Machine learning is used again here to identify and engage a larger and relevant user base. 

The middle tier is a customised approach that involves a rule-based identification of the audience.

“These rules are based upon demographic, behavioural, or psychographic characteristics that align with the campaign definition,” Mok said. “This tier allows us to not just attract a wider audience but to create truly personalised experiences on a more personal level.”

Moving up again, the fourth tier is a keyword approach. This identifies the audience based on an article, browsing history and specific keywords that align with a certain campaign. 

“By understanding the content our users engage with, we can curate experiences that cater to the explicit interest and in the process enhance the brands relevance,” Mok said.

And the very top tier of the funnel is the contextual approach. The audience is identified here based on content categories or channels of interest while paying attention to ad response sensitivity. 

“More importantly, our understanding deepens through this five-tier approach,” Mok said. “We are not just tailoring our advertising to meet our audience where they are, but we are continuously learning, refining, and innovating to project where theyre going.”

While United Daily News is finding great success in its data journey, it didn’t come without its challenges. Six challenges Mok identified in his journey were understanding the audience, cultural changes within an organisation, skill gap, operations, data management and integration, privacy and security and ethics. 

With these things in mind, Mok says with the right mindset, investment and strategies, media companies can overcome them.

“The future of our industry lies in effectively leveraging data and the time to act is now,” Mok said. “Lets rise to this challenge and shape the future of our industry. Together we can make this transition to a data-driven culture that will ensure our business growth, competitiveness, and sustainability.”

About Michelle Palmer Jones

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