Business transformation is a focus for many industries today. One industry that’s arguably led the charge with innovative and successful transformations is media and publishing.
In 2020, many media and publishing businesses adjusted their technology stacks, data-driven processes, and organizational structures to execute transformation projects.
Specifically, ones that not only helped them endure amid the pandemic, but also thrive.
If you want to transform too (i.e., increase your operational efficiency, develop scalable engagement strategies, accelerate growth), 2021 is the perfect time to rethink your business model, restructure your business units, and/or reevaluate your business processes and tools.
This begs the question: “Where should I start with my business transformation?”
In short, by evaluating the transformations of other successful media and publishing companies — and learning how building audience engagement and monetization strategies centered around first-party data can help your business grow in the long run.
Media and publishing companies: Leading the charge on business transformation
“The world is changing in rapid, unprecedented ways,” Harvard Business Review contributors Dan Higgins and Nicola Morini Bianzino recently wrote. “[B]ut one thing remains certain: as businesses look to embed lessons learned in recent months and to build … resilience for the future, they are due for even more transformation.”
And that’s especially true for mid-sized and enterprise media and publishing companies.
But a deficiency of data resources — particularly advanced technology that enables growth-focused teams (e.g., marketing, product, audience development) to properly leverage their audience data — prevents many of these companies from realizing their desired business transformation strategies.
In 2019, 50+% of media executives polled by Deloitte and Google cited “access to the right technology” as the main factor deterring their organizations from transforming today.
This survey, of course, was conducted before COVID-19 disrupted the business landscape and made it even more essential for media and publishing companies to rectify data issues (e.g., eliminate their data silos, achieve a single customer view).
Simply put, the media and publishing organizations that fail with their business transformations (or fail to even start theirs) are missing crucial elements — specifically:
- The ideal personnel and/or team structure to execute a transformation initiative
- Systems and processes that outline which teams own which transformation tasks
- Modern solutions to help them scale and streamline their transformation efforts
Even with the right people, processes, and technology, though, these businesses’ transformation strategies will miss the mark if they fail to collect and utilize a strategic business asset all companies now need to succeed: first-party data.
First-party audience data: The strategic business asset you now need to transform
There are several reasons media and publishing companies are making first-party data their principal data source — one that, when leveraged effectively, can accelerate their growth.
Three in five publishers said first-party data would play a critical role in their business success in light of third-party cookie deprecation, according to a 2020 LiveRamp survey.
That percentage should only increase further when cookies are officially gone for good.
The demise of cookies offers you the chance to change how you think about your customer engagement model and get away from black boxes of audience data you don’t control.
While cookie deprecation can feel like a crisis at times, it’s ultimately an opportunity to transition to first-party data and the ability to truly own the end-to-end audience experience.
With third-party cookies no longer a viable resource for media and publishing organizations, many have turned to third-party data marketplaces. But the data from these vendors can be unreliable (e.g., incorrect or incomplete info for individuals).
For example, it can be difficult to confirm whether third-party data was obtained in compliance with privacy laws or if consent was given from those who provided the data.
Thus, publishers are deeply concerned about serving ads built on third-party data.
By collecting first-party data about your target audience, you better understand where you’ve gotten consent from individuals and in what exact context.
Then, you can use that data to enhance both your engagement efforts and develop an audience monetization strategy (e.g., create alternative ad products for partners), given that data is vastly higher in quality and more sustainable.
As noted, one third-party data point that’s often wrong (or unknown) is consent status.
By unifying first-party data in a customer data platform (CDP) that offers consent management functionality, like BlueConic, you’ll know who’s opted in and out of data storage and utilization (e.g., for marketing purposes and selling to partners).
What’s more, you can federate that consent across the systems in your technology stack.
Abiding by consumers’ consent preferences (and making consent opt-out available to website visitors) is now table stakes for all media and publishing companies today.
But it’s also vital given the increasing prevalence of data privacy regulations too.
With BlueConic, you can rest assured knowing consent statuses for everyone in your database are updated in individuals’ profiles in real time and, thereby, always accurate.
Consider BlueConic customer Sound Publishing.
The company uses our CDP to power its dynamic paywall and content metering. But, more importantly, the news organization was able to open its paywall in minutes when the pandemic hit so all readers, including non-subscribers, could access crucial COVID content.
Thanks to having unified first-party data in close proximity to its activation mechanisms, Sound Publishing was able to act with the agility and flexibility the situation required.
That’s a critical trait of leading media and publishing companies who carry out successful business transformation strategies today: They’re able to efficiently adjust their engagement activities on the fly as internal and external conditions dictate.
As mentioned, first-party data opens the door for media and publishing companies like yours to test new monetization avenues and establish new, scalable revenue streams.
You can suddenly start to think about creating unique data products based on authenticated, identity-driven data and an understanding of who your audiences are.
For instance, many have developed new subscription models, cultivated second-party data relationships and packaged up custom audience segments to sell to advertising partners.
Each of these tactics, among others, enable organizations to use their first-party audience data beyond traditional programs (e.g., selling ads) and diversify their revenue streams.
Ultimately, effective business transformation involves accumulating first-party data that provides you with richer, actionable audience insights (e.g., content preferences; website recency, frequency, and momentum).
With this data stored in BlueConic, you can then efficiently analyze your audience, build new segments based on individuals’ attributes, deploy predictive models (e.g., propensity to renew or churn), and liberate data in activation tools as needed.
How to build your business transformation strategy around BlueConic’s CDP
As BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach explained during her 2020 Adweek Elevate: Publishing session on the art and science of modern audience engagement, the transition to first-party data is paramount for media and publishing companies in 2021.
Beyond expressing the importance of this data, though, Cory noted there are three things these organizations must keep top of mind in order to realize successful transformations:
- 1) Be proactive, not reactive, to disruptive forces so you can adapt quickly and efficiently: “The reactive approach has to go away,” Cory noted. “That’s the ‘old you.’ And the ‘new you’ needs to … say, ‘How can we drive innovation and build our strategic direction based on what we’ve learned and channel that really constructively?'”
- 2) Your relationship with your audience is — and will always be — the core of your business: Cory indicated it’s critical to “be agile enough to respond to the reality of [technology changing], but keep [in mind] the fact that the central dynamic … is between great content being delivered to consumers. That fundamental relationship will not go away.” In other words? “Direct consumer relationships are non-negotiable.”
- 3) Consider how tech can enable a more holistic approach to long-term growth: Cory stated focusing on “both acquisition and retention strategies, not cannibalizing one or the other. That’s what’s going to create that solid, long-lasting growth, rather than … this reactive dynamic of the newest shiny object or the easiest path forward.”
Increase your business agility, prioritize audience relationship management, and incorporate your technology seamlessly into your engagement strategy and monetization efforts — with first-party data and customer identity serving as your north star.
That is what true transformation entails. And that’s what BlueConic can help you achieve.
Download our business transformation eBrief to learn how you can accelerate your media or publishing organization’s growth with BlueConic’s CDP.