How Newspapers Can Monetize Data

“In god we trust, all others must bring data.” This quote by W. Edwards Deming sums up the focus information businesses will need in the future. Newspapers collect large volumes of data during long relationships with readers. These relationships are their biggest assets and can become their biggest opportunities. By understanding users in real time, newspapers can customize news consumption experiences and specifically target them to the needs and lifestyles of their readers. Newspapers are in positions to use information successfully by connecting data points for predictive analysis that could drive both user engagement and advertiser results.

Big data results from our use of connected devices—everything from cell phones and utility meters to card swipe machines and smart gadgets. All these devices interact with us and continuously capture and transmit data. The increasing volume and detail of information captured by enterprises, as well as the rise of multimedia, social media, and the Internet of Things is rapidly leading big data to become a key basis of competition and growth for companies.

What constitutes big data?

Krishna Tewari explains big data as the confluence of three trends: Big Transaction Data, Big Interaction Data and Big Data Processing.

Big Data infographic

Big data can be compiled from various disparate data sources of publishers, then analyzed and used to form strategies for marketing, customer retention, pricing offers, upselling and bundling of products and services.

What type of data is collected by publishers?

Newspapers are deeply connected with their audiences. They collect commercial information, in addition to personal preferences and media consumption habits. Some of the sources and components of data collected by publishers are:

Data Sources of publishers

Publishers unknowingly and knowingly collect information but the challenge is in integrating and managing that information. Data clusters cannot provide results without the help of data scientists who use analytic tools and leverage the data to make smart decisions. As publishers aggregate more data from different sources, they need to start organizing this information to derive value for marketing decisions, customer engagement, pricing and product strategies.

Identifying content preferences of focus groups and providing custom products:

By identifying the sections frequented by specific groups of readers, newspapers can produce magazines and editorials customized to their needs. Pew Research Center shared an example of one such initiative by the Daily Herald, which has rolled out a successful monthly health magazine and a new men’s lifestyle magazine. They plan to introduce a real estate product early in 2013. It seems like an ambitious enterprise for a small operation with modest resources, but Publisher Mark Palmer says the health magazine has been “very profitable” and initial results from the new publications are quite positive.

Affinity Express partners with many newspaper clients by taking over the production of special sections, helping them to draw new advertisers and reach target audiences at dramatically lower costs.

Travel editorial

Finding new pockets of growth in micromarkets:

Data offers a new ability to combine, sift and sort vast troves of data to develop highly efficient sales strategies. While micromarkets are most often understood as physical regions, they don’t have to be. For example, business executives returning from work by train are a lucrative micromarket for newspapers, as they are captive audience who would willingly buy magazines to read during their commutes.

Exploring and exploiting new-growth hot spots involves three steps: 1) defining your micromarkets and determining their growth potential; 2) using these findings to distribute resources and plan your sales sales strategies; and 3) evolving operations and organizational cultures to support decisions backed by data. An interesting example of micromarketing is a special edition to be distributed in schools which will have double impact. One, focused exposure to school audience will draw advertisers targeting youth and, two, the newspaper will build a bond with readers from an early age.

Serving news on demand:

As online ads are displayed in context with the content being viewed, newspaper websites could also store and use data about their readers’ preferred content pages, history of articles read and liked and comments shared in the past to show content that they might prefer. This works similar to the way Amazon recommends products in real time based on visitors’ previous searches and profile history, as well as the latest contextual information gathered from the website (e.g., roll overs, page visits, carts, etc.). Real time decision engines will certainly add tremendous value and play a pivotal role while displaying news users want and expect. Starting with the basics in this way can be a radical change for some organizations but it becomes essential if the ambition is to become the preferred news brand on smaller screen devices.

Amazon recommendation

Planning offers and ad packages for advertisers:

Data is a goldmine for newspapers, which have the potential to reinvent the process of planning sales strategies. By studying, recognizing and understanding readers’ preferences and interest areas, publishers can plan ad space packages that deliver extra impact for advertisers. For example, if the data shows a trend that middle-age business executives prefer and consume mostly business and sports pages and click on auto and real estate ads; then publishers can plan packages that feature ad space in special sports editions for auto and real estate advertisers.

The newspaper companies that strategize around big data will deliver greater value to their advertisers and high consumer engagement. They will not only get the right content to the right consumers at the right time but also build a sustainable growth model.

As content consumption churns out big data at a rate faster than ever before, it will become central to newspapers’ business strategy. Digital is driving a significant shift in traditional news delivery and consumption, but big data will bring the consumer and the content closer together.

How are you collecting and integrating data to build new revenue models?

About Kriti Adlakha
I have been working in the field of marketing and brand development for more than eight years. My experience ranges from hospitality to media and IT products to outsourced services. During my journey, I have worked with print and new-age media and have enjoyed developing content. I have also learnt and worked on marketing tools like adwords marketing, analytics, CRM and the list is steadily growing. Having acquired post-graduate diploma in business management from IIM, Calcutta, I love new challenges and learn from each experience. In my blog, I share marketing strategies that enable small and medium businesses to market in a small budget. I also discuss how to use different online tools that can help businesses to monitor returns of their marketing investments. Above all, I love to hear back from my readers!

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