At long last, newsmedia ushers in the era of "customer-first," data-driven strategy

By Daniel Williams Published July 5, 2017

I had the privilege last week to join fifteen colleagues on the Local Media Association's Boston Innovation Mission. Our delegation visited Brightcove, the Boston Globe, Cxense, Hubspot, ThriveHive, Entercom and WGBH. The top takeaway was that media organizations now recognize a customer-first strategy, fueled by intelligent data, insightful analytics, smart segmentation and relevant personalization, presents a compelling path to revenue diversification and long-term viability. On every visit, the host companies shared an ambitious vision for the role that customer data plays in their respective business strategies.

Data is indeed the new currency of exchange.

It was both gratifying and validating to observe companies that are investing in the technology infrastructure to build holistic views of their customers to drive monetization through engagement, activation and loyalty.  Gratifying because I have long believed the consumer must be at the center of the newsmedia business model, and validating because addressing this business challenge is what LEAP associates have devoted the past twenty-five years to helping companies to resolve.

Most of the attention was on the renewed commitment to growing consumer revenues - particularly among digital subscribers - and the algorithm-based technologies powering content personalization. But there is another compelling use case that capitalizes on a newsmedia company’s unique ability to connect buyers and sellers in their local marketplaces by using audience data to optimize targeted advertising initiatives.

Audiences are built with data. The more you know about an individual consumer (or “persona”), the more audiences that individual will belong to.  Once you come to that realization, the road to growth of audiences (and consequently, revenue) becomes an eight-lane highway. The road is built upon an infrastructure of customer intelligence – an infrastructure that generates it, optimizes it and puts it to use.

Think of it this way, an individual customer who participates in a travel contest, has enrolled in your food & dining newsletter and has demonstrated her affinity for content related to the local school board belongs to not one, but many audiences. The opportunities for monetizing her are numerous, evolving and constantly growing.

What it means for you

Now consider this, newsmedia companies and their advertisers are both in search of more customers. And newsmedia companies that invest in the audience data infrastructure are in an exceptional position to deliver on that requirement for their local business communities.

This has become a major focus among our client coalition over the past year, and it involves using the LEAP Dimensions audience database to consolidate, optimize, analyze, model, score and segment the customer databases of local advertisers and merchants. By doing so, the media company alone can provide access to a qualified prospect universe that can be reached through a variety of targeted marketing channels, including email, social audiences, contesting, DMP re-targeting, and yes, direct mail, among others.

A properly constructed enterprise data warehouse supports an open, seamless and real-time integration of first and third party, online/offline data. It must comprise detailed information about your existing customers and prospective customers, as well as those of your advertisers. Thus, you are able to help those advertisers define the characteristics of their most valuable targets, and then demonstrate how your diverse portfolio of media assets can reach them most effectively.

There’s no arguing the fact that survival in the news media is dependent upon our ability to leverage unique assets – content-generation, community relationships and brand integrity among them – to diversify revenue. Events, digital services, native advertising, e-commerce, video, niche publishing, targeted marketing solutions, etc. represent the revenue initiatives that will secure a future extending beyond traditional subscription and ad revenues.

And every one of those initiatives is engineered, promoted and executed through a comprehensive knowledge of your audiences. But that knowledge starts with an effective solution for consolidating, organizing, standardizing, connecting, enriching, appending, analyzing, modeling, scoring, segmenting and - most importantly - activating that customer data, which today is every media companies most valuable strategic asset.

For more information on LEAP’s end-to-end approach to data management, audience analytics and marketing execution, please contact us at

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