#newsrw - Can data shape the way we publish?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Afternoon session kicking off, looking at how data can inform our business decisions in media. Tim Faircliff, general manager of Reuters Media chairing.

Ron Diorio, VP of product and community development at The Economist

Ron Diorio

Coming in via Skype!

Lies, damn lies and product development. What does it look like inside their lab? Like a cartoon, apparently. 😉 There’s a continuous stream of data coming in live from both the website and from social media generally. However, the proliferation of streams means its harder to dedupe users. So when social media consultants say things like a tweet in a particular stream reaches “9 million people” he doesn’t know what to do with that data.

The Economist has a product development cycle. The look outside to the real world to see what others are doing, gauge likely adoption rate and size of market, where the revenue will be, prototype and survey (often in Facebook group), and then feed monitoring of metrics back into the process. If readers are using it differently than they expected – have the made the wrong decisions? The clickstream data can tell them this.

The well-read quiz to Facebook – based on the rise of social gaming. People played it, but they didn’t come back – and that was because it was too hard . 2/10 doesn’t encourage people to come back. So they demoted the game, and spent two or three months building a new version, that will be launched shortly.

John Barnes, managing director of digital strategy and development at Incisive Media.

John Barnes, Incisive

B2B company, all about attracting people to the site and trying to keep them there, as they can monetise them.

Battled internally to promote the idea that people engage with product on different platforms in different was. Mobile is “quick fix”, web is research and exploration. Print is education.

In the web world the relationship between story and audience is continuos. It’s ot just about writing the story, but how it develops; write then tweet or tweet then write? Successfully B2B publishers are about exploring niches. It’s good for B2B publishers, because the way the world is going we can get good data from those audiences, and build close relationships with them. The publication of a story is just the start of a process.

Print headlines in e-mail alerts failed. They need to be shorter and more emotive. 25% increase in page impressions as a result. Headlines retuned during the day based on response.

Surveys give useful feedback on “use occasions”. News roundups or product exploration popular in video, voxpops or interview, no so much. Frequency is important – 3 to 4 uploads a week for core brands. 900% video usage as a result.

Chris Duncan, director of customer management, News International

Chris Duncan

Demographic data used to determine strategy, but now customers are changing faster than the demographic data is. Customer behaviour is now multidimensional. Tablets in the morning, 11pm is the web, as is mid-afternoon. Tablets are back for the evening commute, or the sofa at home.

The Sunday Times Social List – the underlying truth is that there are a number of people who drive our content harder than we can. Lots of organisations are trying to figure out how to reach those influencers – and what;s interesting is tracking how their influence changes over time.

You need to be clear about what you’re trying to achieve, because otherwise you’ll just drown in the volumes of data available.

Edward Barrow, cto, idio

Edward Barrow, idio

If you follow a strategy solely based on reactive data, it’s very hard work. Each new device means starting again. If you understand that it’s all about breaking down barriers between your content and the customer. So you need to understand your content more – and we apply content analysis to all your content streams. That way, the more people interact with your content the more you can learn about them.

One teleco used their technology to see if their was a correlation between intelligence and mobile spend. Sadly, it turned out that chavs spent the most…

You need to understand the full journey your customer is on. Identity association is key to maintaining a single customer view. You don’t have to won the content to learn from it. Facilitate users to sign in using Facebook, Twitter, etc, and we can use those streams to personalise the site. The more you know, the more money you can make.

Privacy? With current legislation coming through, this is an issue. Behavioural targeting are words we should put under the carpet. Transparency is important – tell customer what you’re doing and why. Amazon.com, Google and Facebook are three sites we all use all the time – all of them personalise your experience very heavily.

Briefing Media uses their technology to extract semantic topics and then match user to them. You can then target e-mail newsletters to them. Make it very transparent, and engage them with the data gathering process. The site can then start recommending the kind of content you’re interested in.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.