INMA Big Data week London highlights successful business models of data driven newsrooms

The INMA Big Data for Media Week in London showcased best case examples of data driven success in the media industry.


With speakers from BBC, The Telegraph, Financial Times, Google, The New York Times, Schibsted, The Washington Post and many others, the participants visited various media companies across London and attended podium discussions. We look back on a week of insightful and innovative projects, centered around big data.


Three uses of data stood out in a week of best practices of data-driven organizations:


Financial Times

Betts quote 2

The Financial Times hosted a forum seeking to share and learn best practices for running Big Data in media operations. Tom Betts, Chief Data Officer at Financial Times spoke about their own digital success strategy. Five years ago, print was still the dominant format for most of its users. Now 70% of FT’s readers are paying for digital access.

“The FT is winning when it comes to digital. More people than ever are paying for our journalism — with 835,000 subscribers and subscriptions continue to grow significantly,” Betts said.

He points out that the FT is actually moving beyond Big Data and instead of having just one Data team in charge of data information, all departments are confronted with data in their teams. This becomes clear when you know that 50 people are involved with data at Financial Times.

One of the key metrics at FT and where they put most energy in is engagement which focuses on reader loyalty and habit formation. It is strongly linked to revenue, as findings show that the likelihood of subscription increases with the level of engagement. Engagement can be broken down into three main metrics: recency (when was the piece last read), frequency (how often is the piece visted), and volume (the number of paid articles consumed by a reader).

FT aims to involve everyone in their organization beyond their data team to understand and think about the use of data.

Read more about the Financial Times’ use of data here.


BBC’s marketing and audience director, James Holden shared the BBC News Group’s idea of increasing engagement by creating great content and great products. They were able to identify the trend that the BBC is traditionally accessed more by man than women. They launched initiatives that catered more towards women to counter this development.

They are also trying to strengthen audience loyalty and lower churn by analyzing user behaviors whether they are direct visitors or land on their website via social media.
By introducing analytics tools and developing their own internal solution they gave journalists a better understanding about the content they produce. It brings data from different sources to journalists and shows how engagement changes throughout the day.

More about the future of Big Data at the BBC here.

Combine Big Data with small data

Steffen Damborg, chief digital officer at DigitalConsult and former CDO at JP/Politiken, shared tips on how SME media companies can benefit from the use of data just like the the big players. Damborg points out that while we might look for inspiration to the global news brands smaller newsrooms just don’t have the capacity to work with the same business models.

Damborg quote

Jyllands-Posten, a regional Danish daily, was introducing a combination of off-the-shelf analytics solutions and conversations with users through observations and focus groups. This enabled Jyllands-Posten to measure metrics cheaply and understand what drives people to its sites.

Twipe’s initial scientific research on digital reader engagement with the University of Leuven and Mediahuis investigated what affects readers’ engagement. It showed that there is no correlation between attention time and positive affect. We were also able to discover that positive affect is driven by content, composition and fulfilling the objective in a given time constraint.

Steffen Damborg refers to another example from Denmark. MetroExpress was able to significantly increase conversion rates among young readers through gamified marketing campaigns. This allowed them to collect information on its readers.

Read more about Steffen Damborg’s tips for SMEs in media here.


Team Twipe

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