Australian Community Media (ACM) is the regional news and content publishing division of Fairfax Media. It has a network of over 600 sales people, admin, and managers who require up-to-date audience information for each of the 200 news brands they own and additional 100 they represent. Each news brand can have thousands of individual clients each year. Sales offices are distributed over every state in Australia without a centralised distributor of sales collateral.
Providing sales collateral based on research has historically been a difficult task. Audience metrics for print are provided by Ipsos (through emma), digital metrics by Nielsen or Google Analytics, and demographic metrics by census data (ABS). Because of the number of different data sources, provision of research was previously conducted by one analyst who provided ad hoc research to sales reps servicing the largest clients. The remaining sales reps did not receive data-driven sales collateral.
It quickly became apparent that rather than creating ad hoc reports for hundreds of sales reps, it would be more efficient to create a self-service business intelligence platform that contained audience research data. The platform can then be used as a single source of truth for audience data by the entire business unit.
Each page on the business intelligence platform contained data from a different source. On each page users are able to select which title they are representing and their desired metrics.
Sales reps can view audience buying preferences for more than 50 different industries and 350 Australian brands. This data is available for 200 newspapers and Web sites or combinations of both. This results in more than 200,000 different combinations of brands/industries and newspapers and news sites.
Each page is designed to be a stand-alone sales argument and the data is accompanied by natural language generation (NLG) insights, which aid the salesperson in explaining the research to the client. This NLG functionality was built in during the extract, transform and load (ETL) process before being loaded into BigQuery.
The platform is online and can be accessed through a link. Users reach this link through the company’s internal social media platform (Facebook Workplace). Uptake of the platform was viral as early adopters of the platform then shared the link with an average of five co-workers. Data security is managed through Google. Because Data Studio is a Google product, all new users have to individually request access from the document owner. This allows the owner to prevent the platform being shared outside of the company and also track individual usage.
Feedback from salespeople indicates that insights from the platform have contributed directly to generating new revenue. Additionally, salespeople now have more time to sell rather than search for information to put into pitching decks so the platform has saved a significant amount of time for salespeople and marketing managers. Prior to the launch of the platform, audience insights were transmitted in static documents via e-mail. This was time consuming and resulted in out-of-date information being used throughout the business.
The business has benefitted from the existence of a single source of truth, as the data is always accurate and always up to date. The platform is now seeing adoption in business units outside of sales as its insights have been quoted by journalists in ACM publications. The platform has also gained success on the international awards circuit.