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3 news media companies share data struggles, successes

By Paula Felps

INMA

Nashville, Tennessee, United States

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By Shelley Seale

INMA

Austin, Texas, United States

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By Chandler Wieberg

INMA

Austin, Texas, United States

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The forced pivot from third-party cookies and move toward personalisation has shaped media companies throughout the world. Three shared their data journeys during the second day of the INMA World Congress for News Media on Tuesday.

Bloomberg (United States)

With third-party cookies going away in Google Chrome and Apple announcing consumer tracking transparency, how is Bloomberg adjusting its business model?

Julia Beizer, chief product officer and global head of digital at Bloomberg Media, said readers see value in the exchange of personal information for content.
Julia Beizer, chief product officer and global head of digital at Bloomberg Media, said readers see value in the exchange of personal information for content.

“Publishers are investing in first-party data, but it is expensive and can be complicated and comes with a lot of policy risk and regulations,” explained Julia Beizer, chief product officer and global head of digital at Bloomberg Media. “It can be scary, but it is also an opportunity.”

Moving into a cookie-less world, how can media businesses retrieve information from their audiences? Beizer explained the “value exchange” of gathering small bits of personal information from the audience in exchange for valuable content. 

Bloomberg’s readers see value in this exchange of utility for data, Beizer said. This trust with the audience helped develop the Bloomberg Iris data ecosystem, which has multiple facets of data, helping the team gather and organise as much information from audiences as possible. 

With its data-driven test and learn approach to marketing, Beizer said Bloomberg has seen five times improvement in its conversion rate within one year and saved US$4 million in marketing efficiency through better targeting tools.

Aller Media (Norway)

“Our ambition is to make the best decisions on tech and data that support the goals and strategy that the editorial side has,” Camilla Fuglem, director of data for Aller Media, told World Congress attendees. 

Camilla Fuglem, director of data for Aller Media, discussed data-based front page content decisions.
Camilla Fuglem, director of data for Aller Media, discussed data-based front page content decisions.

Editorial, data, and the commercial teams may handle different sides of the business, but ultimately their strategies support the same goals:

  • To present the right message to the right user at the right time.

  • To not waste valuable space on the wrong content.

“To meet these needs, we have made our own personalisation system, which we call Xavierm,” Fuglem said.

On Dagbladet, one of Aller Media’s main news brands, more than half of the traffic to articles and video comes from the front page of the Web site, which generates approximately seven million visits per day.

“That means that primarily the front page is a way for users to discover our content,” Fuglem added. “That places an extreme importance on the front page, but also gives us an opportunity. The better we can optimise the presentation and the content there, the more users will [consume].”

The Dagbladet.no home page has a challenge, however: It tries to present too many types of content at once, Fuglem said. In addition, there is both free content, which the company is still heavily reliant on, as well as content behind the paywall for its 100,000-plus Dagbladet Plus subscribers.

Fuglem described how it balances content on the front page, what role personalisation and video play into that balance, and how the strategy allows the company to replace low-value ads.  

Torstar (Canada)

Torstar began its data transformation journey in 2017 and, although it has made significant changes in its operations, it still hasn’t reached the milestones Chief Data Officer John Souleles imagined it would have reached by 2021.

John Souleles, chief data officer at Torstar, detailsedhow the company's data journey grew from the ground up.
John Souleles, chief data officer at Torstar, detailsedhow the company's data journey grew from the ground up.

“Back in 2019, I thought that by 2021 we would have a lot of the personlisation and capabilities [we needed] in place,” he said. However, COVID-related delays pushed some changes into 2022, and Souleles said the company is now starting to see “the light at the end of the tunnel” to accomplish the final stages of Torstar’s data transformation.

From a sales perspective, the data has helped provide improved forms of analysis, including:

  • Geospatial, which allows for precise audience targeting based on geographic location. It also gathers customer intent signals.
  • Sales performance analytics and sales support to enhance sales management across all media sales.
  • Marketing research insights to aid with strategy development and execution.
  • Advanced audience insights to provide solutions to clients, allowing them to target the right audiences with the right message and the right time.

The company has made tremendous progress in four years, and Souleles compares their data journey to building a house: “You have to start from the ground up.”

The World Congress continues Tuesdays and Thursdays through May. Register here for future and recordings of past sessions.

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