Personalisation will help media build habits, drive revenue

By Ariane Bernard


New York, Paris


Editor’s note: Ariane Bernard is the new lead of the INMA Smart Data Initiative. She has identified three tentpoles of the initiative this year: personalisation, acquiring and using first-party data, and accelerating the change toward a data-strong organisation. If you would like to subscribe to her bi-weekly newsletter, INMA members can do so here.

Personalisation is one of these words that means different things to different people: 

  • From cohort-personalisation to one-to-one personalisation. 

  • From content personalisation to user experience. 

  • From pricing and customer journey variations.  

But there is one common thread to how this word is used, which is that personalisation is the leveraging of data that we have acquired about a user (or a cohort of users) to propose an optimised experience to this user. 

Personalisation is how media companies leverage acquired user data to better target the user experience.
Personalisation is how media companies leverage acquired user data to better target the user experience.

Personalisation is how media companies leverage acquired user data to better target the user experience.

There is a lot of room in the term “optimisation” here — from content optimisation (content recommendation), to UX optimisation (emphasising the visual presentation of elements the user has interacted with in the past or new features we think would further habituate her); from customer journey optimisations (judiciously exposing new activities to a user who has already completed some journey steps and no longer prompting her to download an app she has already downloaded), to personalising some of the commercial offers she might see. 

Degrees of personalisation are achievable whether with a logged-in user or a brand new anonymous cookie. But, of course, the deeper and more personal the data, the more options are available to the product and commercial side of the business to optimise the experience and, ultimately, the chance of higher revenue from this user 

One topic that came back in my conversation was the North Star goal of one-to-one personalisation. For some, this felt like a promise that couldn’t be delivered on the open Web: 

  • Too many anonymous, transient cookies.

  • Too many screens and limited capacity for tying up these cross-platform activities under one clean user profile. 

  • Taxing computing resources needed to deliver these differentiated experiences.

But do we accept that because the journey is long it cannot be done? I think we can surprise ourselves.

In other conversations, the imperative was that we collectively progressed on the journey to personalisation — understanding that depending on the type of publisher business and the user’s journey, the ability to personalise and optimise everything was going to be thinner at times.  

So what can we learn from each other that is valuable at whatever step of the journey your organisation is at? Concretely, what are data strategies —from framework, to the acquisition, to the delivery of the data — that enable this path to personalisation? 

If you’d like to subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter, INMA members can do so here.

About Ariane Bernard

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