The value of data has been clear in our digital economy for a long time. UK mathematician Clive Humby described it as the new oil back in 2006. But he qualified his description, saying: “Like oil, data is valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used.”
More publishers are collecting increasing amounts of data to grow their audiences and support subscription and advertising sales, but without the refinement of effective data strategies, more data doesn’t guarantee better performance.
- A new report by paywall provider Piano and industry publisher Digiday takes a close look at the challenges faced by companies that want data to drive growth. The report highlights research from Forrester that shows almost 60% of global marketers feel ‘overwhelmed’ by the amount of data that passes across their desktops.
- The report – How marketers are using flexible datasets to power successful campaigns – focuses primarily on the broader marketing function, but many of the conclusions it reaches are directly applicable to publishers looking to extend their reader revenue base and apply customer data to advertising packages.
- The headline conclusion is that companies have embraced the need to collect data, with many building ‘massive datasets’ in an effort to create a ‘complete’ picture of their customers. The problems come when they try to use the data they have collected.
Nicolas Hinternesch, Digital Analytics Strategist at Piano, says:
Business users are stuck in a cycle. They’ve gotten used to collecting large amounts of data for so long that the way out is too hard for them to see.
The way out
Piano says the way to end the cycle of massive datasets is to make data clear and accessible to enable cross-team collaboration and interoperability between data points. Hinternesch explains that:
There needs to be a mindset shift from, ‘Let’s collect a lot of data first, then see what we can do with it,’ to, ‘Let’s think about business first, then collect the data we need,’
He says then it becomes about working out how to get the right data to the right users and give them the necessary tools to embed it into their ‘business context’.
To develop effective data strategies, Piano recommends:
- Creating a unified view of data to breakdown silos and improve communication
- Aligning analytics with the goals of the business, analysis synching with factors critical to growth
- Opening access to ensure teams have the data to achieve their business goals
- Building measurement into products from the beginning, rather than adding it as an afterthought
The report encourages businesses to work with “light data” – only what is necessary; “flexible data” – collected from a variety of sources (websites, apps, smart TVs); and “unified data” – one data set for all teams in the organisation.
Declan Owens, Digital Analytics Strategist at Piano says:
Stick to the data that you know how to use and that you can exploit and maintain with the resources you have at hand. This is the most economical, ecological, and efficient approach.
The report also offers advice on what to look for when shopping for analytics solutions or partners. The three main components to consider include:
- Data – evaluated for accuracy, completeness, cleanliness, timeliness, and consistency
- Tools – user-friendly features like dashboarding or browser extensions
- Relationships – facilitating the evolution of data strategies over time