Media Organisations Need to Make the Shift to Data Centricity

Media is one industry that has been impacted most heavily by the digital revolution. With the proliferation of the Internet, readers have increasingly moved online to consume news, entertainment and content. Traditional business models of media companies, which were largely centred around subscriptions and print advertisements, quickly crumbled as consumers now had access to a large variety of free online content. Also, advertisers did not move online at the same pace as readers, further impacting revenues.

Since then, most media organisations have embraced technology and moved to digital platforms. These digital media companies are also making lasting changes to the way that they run their businesses. Instead of old school ideologies around solving a problem by throwing more people at it, they are increasingly investing in a technology stack that lasts. This includes both platforms and tools that are built in-house, as well as off-the-shelf solutions that provide specific areas of expertise. They are increasingly learning to leverage data and technology to drive their vision. Interestingly, a lot of this data vision is being driven by sales and revenue teams and the office of the CRO, rather than by the CIO.

There are two primary reasons for this:

  • Well-informed Buyer Landscape. Advertising has become increasingly outcome centric, as marketers are far more likely to measure the impact of their marketing spend, rather than focusing solely on a static budget. As they seek far more granular insights, media companies need to step up and provide this information to advertisers if they are to stay relevant. Agencies and advertisers are becoming far more sophisticated, not only in their own approaches to advertising, but also in terms of what they are asking for from media organisations in terms of data, performance and ROI.
  • Increased Competition. Just as readers are spoilt for choice, so are the advertisers. Media agencies today have multiple options when it comes to spending their advertising dollar. Providing the right data insights that allow advertisers to target their audience better can help media companies differentiate themselves and build deeper partnerships and lasting relationships with buyers.

The question that arises, then, is how do media companies build a data vision that helps further their growth objectives?

Understanding Data Connections

Media houses need to have an intimate understanding of how different data points are interconnected and analyse this interplay of data. For example, every decision that the user makes on the website – which article to read, which link to click on, which video to watch etc. – offers clues about the user’s preferences. For instance, how long did they spend on a particular page? How many times did they watch a particular video? Which articles did they share on social media platforms? Understanding the nuances behind every data point and decision can offer invaluable insights.

These are just the basics. With the advent of advanced analytics, machine learning and marketing automation, there exists a huge opportunity to apply this learning to both structured and unstructured data and provide high levels of content optimization.

Predictive analytics offers incredible opportunities to stay ahead of the curve in terms of user behaviour. For example, which subscribers are mostly likely to renew their memberships and which ones are likely to let them lapse? Targeting them effectively can help retain and grow the subscriber base and also offer advertisers highly customized target audiences to market their offerings without hampering user experience.

Data Hygiene

The effectiveness of data depends heavily on the quality and quantity of data that is recorded. Therefore, organisations need to have the right data hygiene in place, both in terms of the technology as well as processes. They need to ensure the data is stored in a sustainable fashion that can last and be relevant for years.

Media companies typically sit on a huge goldmine of data that is both structured and unstructured. This includes both data in the form of structured text as well as other formats such as videos, photos, and disparate chunks of text. Unless this data is collected and stored in a sustained fashion in a format that makes the data easily retrievable for analytics, it defeats the entire purpose of storing it. Ensuring that the data is stored in a way that helps further the data vision of the organization is crucial.

While most media organisations have successfully made the shift online, there is still a lot more that they can do to effectively leverage their data in the digital world. They say data is the new oil, given its immense potential to generate winning insights for its owners. By putting in place the right policies and investing in the right technologies guided by a clear data vision, media organisations are well placed to grow their revenues, deliver value to their advertisers and partners. At the same time, they can also deliver highly customized and relevant content to their audiences, aided by the right data and insights. But to achieve this, a clear data vision and stakeholder buy-in is paramount.