The hubbub around the Telegraph Media Group’s (TMG) new subscription plans has focused on the charging. But it’s not as simple as just putting up a metered paywall and waiting for the money to come in – the Telegraph is investing in customer data management in a big way to better understand its audience, increase revenue and build better products.
Having a large database of logged in users allows The Telegraph to see how individual customers are using the site and match that up with a wealth of other offline and online data, creating a range of useful insights.
Telegraph print subscribers are entitled to a free digital subscription but still have to sign up to use the site online and on various mobile devices – but TMG’s data management encompasses both online and offline readers:
“We have an offline customer database,” TMG marketing director Graham Horner tells TheMediaBriefing. “We are pretty advanced in that area, because we spent a lot of time building up that database, capturing all touchpoints, such as: are you a sub, have you bought a holiday from us, do you go on our dating website, do you play games, etc.”
“We can now say what are those people doing on the site, on mobile and iPad etc.”
TMG is working with a US firm called Krux to build a real-time data management platform that will combine existing data with online signed-in subscriber profiles. That can help the business in four distinct ways:
— Product design: Horner says: “Simply in terms of insight, this will enable us to understand individual subscribers, how often they are logging in, which platforms they are using and so on, so we can build a much richer profile and that will inform product development.”
— Marketing and loyalty: Horner says having logged-in subscribers will allow TMG to decide who it targets with subscription ads, but it will also allow it to increase retention efforts. “If we know you are on sports sites a lot we can highlight the sports bundle, or if you aren’t taking full advantage of your bundle on mobile, or loyalty benefits like free eBooks, we’ll be able to tell you.”
— Advertising: TMG is already advanced in real-time, targeted digital ads, but tracking logged-in users allows for far more detailed targeting. “This gives them some differentiation and enables us to surface this data,” says Horner. “We have all this rich data to give to advertisers who are demanding it. There are the Facebooks out there and we need to compete with that in our premium environment.”
— Users: The final benefit, says Horner, will be to users, who should receive better targeted ads that will be more relevant and useful. “It will tell you something you didn’t know and actually speak to you.”
Building user rich profiles also allows TMG more effectively target users who don’t log in. With Krux’s help it will be able to match those users’ behavioural profiles with similar users who have provided detailed information.
Gated access = inevitable
Horner says premium publishers will come under increasing pressure from advertising clients to gather some sort of registration details from consumers – whether they choose to charge or not.
“It is going to be increasingly hard not to offer that richer individual level data,” he says. “It’s being demanded more in the industry.”
“Not to say there won’t be some mass advertisers that go out to everyone, and there’ll be certain publishers who can do that, but while what we are doing now is quite sophisticated, I think certainly for premium publishers we will get to the point where (this sort of combination of data) is considered just standing still.”
Telegraph Newsroom picture by Antony Mayfield on Flickr, via a Creative Commons licence.