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Accelerating data insights crucial as media companies embrace subscriptions, pivot on third-party cookie phaseout, INMA report shows

29 July 2021

DALLAS (29 July 2021) – News media companies must unlock the value of data insights to strategically develop their subscription business and take full advantage of the pending phaseout of third-party cookies with advertising sales, according to a report released today by the International News Media Association (INMA).

“The Guide to Smart Data Strategy in Media” explores how news companies:

  • Create data strategies. 
  • Understand and leverage data. 
  • Change their operations through data. 
  • Use Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to enhance efforts. 
  • Collaborate to harness the power of data.  

Click here to download or purchase the report

The journey to the “smart data” opportunity facing publishers has been a steady climb over the past decade, punctuated by two recent events: the shift to a readers-first business model and Google’s announced phaseout of third-party cookies. Combined, these two events have super-charged publisher efforts to create first-party data strategies that efficiently serve the entirety of their enterprises, according to the INMA report.

Practically, publishers today are prioritising three areas of data development:

  • Identifying audiences that unlock opportunities for improving content and user experiences and creating attractive advertiser segments. 
  • Enriching profiles of identified audiences and using data to model profiles of those who are not explicitly identified. 
  • Activating the data for advertisers in the form of targetable segments. 

Though late to discover the value of data, publishers’ acceleration of first-party data strategies is having a ripple effect on the organisational structures of media companies, transformation of newsrooms, evolving team structures, and elevating the role of chief data officer, according to the INMA report.

With media companies worldwide at radically different phases of smart data development, INMA looks at how 13 companies are practically applying data best practices to transform their business operations.

Among the report’s case studies are Hearst, Torstar, Die Presse, Dagens Næringsliv, Nikkei, Asahi Shimbun, South China Morning Post, Mediahuis, Schibsted, Ekstra Bladet, Badische Zeitung, DRIVE, and Diar.

The new report, written by INMA blog editor Paula Felps, distills voluminous information created by INMA in the first six months of its Smart Data Initiative, leaning heavily into programming from the association’s recent World Congress of News Media, Smart Data For Media Master Class, and Asia/Pacific News Media Summit. Created in early 2021, the Smart Data Initiative shares insights and best practices on creating value with data analytics and incorporates a data-positive culture across news media companies.

“The Guide to Smart Data Strategy in Media” is free to INMA members and available for purchase by non-members at

The International News Media Association (INMA) is a global community of market-leading news media companies reinventing how they engage audiences and grow revenue. The INMA community consists of more than 18,000 members at 900+ news media companies in 78 countries. INMA is the news media industry’s foremost ideas-sharing network with members connected via conferences, reports, Webinars, virtual meetings, an unparalleled archive of best practices, and strategic initiatives focused on digital subscriptions, smart data, product, advertising, and the publisher relationships with Big Tech.




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