World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

The science of big data

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

The science of big data

Matthijs van de Peppel is the manager data intelligence at NRC Media (The Netherlands), one of the most inspiring European news media companies for its Big Data usage.

For him data is not an aseptic bunch of figures and statistics, but a way to develop the art of empathy with their readers. Van de Peppel describes the steps to success: first, "make data work for you."

Then, build profitable relationships –“the price is very important, you want to be profitable,” he stressed. And the Holy Grail: “create empathy, create better experiences for the subscribers.”

He explained how the idea of not charging subscribers for their services during their holiday period had been an “unprofitable decision” that somehow “built relationship” and created loyalty.

“For the first time in my marketing experience we received compliments emails”, he assured. “Subscribers are the most important thing we have. Every relationship counts.”

And everyone is different from the other, which means that, while they don’t do price differentiation between individual costumers, they offer different packages and options.

A biophysicist in a newsroom? That is where Matthew Baker, fellow of the University of New South Wales Australia, found himself.

He was embedded as Australia’s inaugural Google Newslabs Fellow at Fairfax Media, home of the Sydney Morning Herald for eight weeks, where he built a recommendation engine for similar content to increase reader on-site-time.

Baker admits that there is room for improvement though, such as segmenting audience (persistent reader versus casual) so it can be taken to the next level. When creating recommendation engines, he has a tip: “tweak the right amount of randomness” to catch the reader off guard and perhaps create a new interest.

When it comes to journalism, like in science, he has another piece of advice: “have a big goal, and a few small goals”.

Daniel J. Buenas, group strategy and analytics division of Singapore Press Holding, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the group’s internal consulting, analytics and data science team.

Singapore Press Holding’s English flagship daily, The Straits Times, uses time series data, advanced statistics and machine learning techniques to optimise between retail availability and returns.

A change that applies “the three As”: put Analysis and models into practice, Augment explore enhancement of data with other assets/ business units or partners and Amplify the application of analytics and models to other business units accross the organization. “The key is being able to do it,” he said.


Paloma Almoguera


2017-04-20 11:38

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