Big data beyond the hype

March 23, 2015 by  

Lutz Finger, Director Data Science and Data Engineering (LinkedIn) spoke at Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin about what big data really means and how it can be used.

Finger sees that big data is big pain as the number of connected devices is growing.

The key to big data is to ask the right questions. It is important to measure the right data even if it’s not big data, but take actions and learn from them. It always helps to start with a questions, or something that helps create a value.

LinkedIn is not an address book – it is a platform, where people can create identity – says Finger. This data is used to create products.

Lots of things today end up to be graphical appealing but useless. People measure everything because they can do it. But to make it useful, you have to ask the right question. Why Google won with Altavista? It asked the right questions. Google didn’t want to show the entire world to consumer, but to show the most relevant answer – Finger proves his point.

Forming the right question is extremely difficult. The ask should have the value function at the end. World is full of wrong metrics.

Engagement is flawed. Metrics prove that catchy line can get you lots of clicks but irrelevant information for the
audience at the same time. We always need to back up our assumption.

Steps for the future managing big data (tips for the publishers):

  1. make your data accessible
  2. build a content profile for each reader
  3. build a knowledge profile from your journalists
  4. hire a data team (aka data scientists)
  5. envision data products: distribution network, ad placement, content recommendation

F+W transformation from print publishing to e-commerce company

March 23, 2015 by  

David Nussbaum, Chairman and CEO, F+W (USA) spoke at Digital Innovators’ Summit in Berlin about digital transformationof his company, and their new business models.

F+W has gone through an amazing transformation from a print-focused niche publisher to a digital-first content and e-commerce company, with exclusive digital and physical product offerings.

In 2008 the company was just a print on paper book and magazine publisher ePaper with 1 e-commerce store summing up
for 2% of the revenue. In 2010 it transformed to delivery agnostic community focused content provider with fewer print
products, and 21 e-commerce stores adding up for 5% of total revenue. This year the company is changing its brand to
F+W e-content and e-commerce company (not a media company anymore). Focusing on instruction, inspiration, exclusive
goods and services for enthusiasts. 33 e-commerce stores, 27% of total revenue.

There are 4 core tenets of F+W business:

  • community
  • commerce – direct-to-consumer one-stop shop exclusive products and services for enthusiasts.
  • content – has become more important in digital age than ever before. This is what brings people to e-stores. So F+W
  • puts efforts in diversified product portfolio: digital media, books, ebooks, magazines, events, online education,
  • competitions, and more
  • curation – guided journey to help consumers select the right product and services

Why did they they transform? The print sales were in decline, as traditional retail channeles were disappearing. The
company needed to supplant or surpass the lost sales. It also didn’t like the idea of 4 big companies like Amazon,
Google control the environment.

Today F+W is focused on core communities. It sold or shuttered some outliers. At the same time it strenthened core
communities, and acquired new ones.

F+W also needed more digital focused employees. In 2008 only 3% of them were digital. In 2015 19% of its workforce is
digital. Although the company grew of 100 people, the percentage of employment in some of the departments has

As consumer preferences change, the company had to change to become its own retail channel. So it set its future by
owning the entire supply chain.

At this moment F+W has 22 million pageviews to ecommerce stores with 5,3 million sessions. They have more than 20.000
customer contacts.

Their focus is also building community. Email is still the no.1 driver of ecommerce. In 2010 their email list size was
hardly 1,3 million records, in 2015 it reached 7,9 million active customers, and those are specific targeted lists by

F+W has 21 million unique shoppers annually, and 5 million monthly ecommerce shoppers. In 2010 the print was 87% of
revenues, now it is 53%. Within the same perion digital grew from 5% to 27%.


EMAP: Unlocking audience value

March 23, 2015 by  


At the Digital Innovators’ Summit in Berlin, Natasha Christie-Miller (CEO of EMAP) shedded some light on the transformation, as well as thoughts on how content-centric businesses can continue to unlock value in an uncertain world.


EMAP is the UK-based B2B media business. It has a tenacious, inventive streak, which has served it well since it was
founded in 1947 as a newspaper group. Facing the same challenges as its industry counterparts in recent years, the
group has innovated from a declining ad-reliant print business to become a growing multi-channel subscriptions

According to Natasha Christie-Miller there are a couple of trends to be witnessed in the nearest future:

  • Cybercrime will go mainstream, as it becomes new warfare (i.e. last Sony hacking scandal).
  • Rise of the coding.
  • Emails will become obsolete as new forms of communication becoming more popular.
  • Rise of emotional connectedness – choices we make and what we prioritize will be made how we feel about something and
  • how emotianally are we connectd to product or service.


Christie-Miller mentioned the “Guthenberg parenthesis”: the written word is a 500-years blick in human communication.
Long time ago the written word became the communication of choice. Thanks to technology nowadays we can go back to
speaking and sharing stories. Some people call it the end of the written word.


EMAP is a leading B2B content subscription business in Europe and Middle East. It predicts that in 2 years from now,
each household will have 72 connected devices. Some of the EMAP brands are 150 yrs old but the value to customers has
not changed. Their mission is to deliver helpful and informative content that helps their customers do their job
better. They do it on 3 main platforms: digital, face to face and print.


Before Christie-Miller became the CEO, EMAP’s subscriptions had been declining for 25 years. The situation has
changed, as for the past 2 years they have been growing.


This could be done thanks to three EMAP’s main purposes: subscriptions, sales excellence and customer joy.
They do it with help of two tactics: great sales operation, and awareness that each of the selling content platforms
must be as good as another. EMAP offers different subscription packages so customers can choose only the platform but
the product remains everywhere the same.


EMAP’s sales excellence has 3 ingredients:

  • right reward and recognition programme,
  • layer of sales leadership in the organisation,
  • ever evolving customer-led range of products.


Customer joy means for EMAP having them happy, and engaged. Aware of the value of what they buy.  What they get in return is customers that are loyal, cross-buying, become advocates of the product, and sometimes co-creators.



VICE: Changing of the guard in media for generation Y

March 25, 2014 by  

Carsten Kritscher, Commercial Director, VICE Media (Germany) shared during Digital Innovators Summit how his company has collaborated with forward thinking brands to form unique partnerships and develop cutting-edge, disruptive solutions for their needs.

The algorithmically confounding exponential growth of the internet has challenged all of our previous marketing “givens.” Not only has it rewritten most of the rules in media, it has also changed the playing field. Because of this revolution and the rise of its revolutionaries— Gen Y—new methods of strategy, production, content, and activation are needed. New solutions for this rapidly shifting environment have become essential. VICE Media is a leading youth media company that provides these solutions for some of the biggest brands in the world.

Generation Y is the rising power, it is the largest generation ever. 75% of the global workforce will by Gen-Y by 2025. It will be a 2,45 trillion USD purchase power in the next year.

The entire generation was raised in the age of constant connectivity. They’re moving away from traditional media, and their media consumption habits move towards mobile, apps, and consuming news on the way. 65% of Gen-Y is disconnected for only an hour a day or less – they are always on. They also like visual content.

Most brands don’t understand how to be interesting but loud. They have no experience in building reach but know only how to buy reach. VICE, on the other hand, is able to communicate with Gen-Y the way they understand and like, thanks to their immersive experience, authentic content and social currency.

Key principles to successful Gen-Y communication:
1. Drive relevance by creating immersive experience for the audience
2. be content first – this is digital currency of young people today
3. realize the value of your audience and provide them with the mechanisms to turn them into brand advocates

Brands must behave like media companies nowadays. As an example, VICE gave its latest content marketing deal with Intel that gave birth to The Creators Project. According to latest figures, it has 50 million unique visitors, 375 million video views, and gives more than 1 billion USD added media value. Average visitor spent up to ten minutes on the site.

Condé Nast – Programmatic ad transactions for publishers

March 25, 2014 by  

At Digital Innovators Summit, Rick Welch, Head of Programmatic Sales, Condé Nast (USA) provided an overview of the programmatic ad landscape, and ways magazine media companies can approach building programmatic capability.

Condé Nast is home to some of the most iconic magazine brands: Wired, Vogue, Vanity Fair among many. Traditionally it was a print magazine publisher, but for the past 3-5 years they have been making strong move to digital: preparing tablet editions, developing new version of the websites, etc.

Condé Nast has 95 million influential consumers only in the US (print and digital), 44 million are in digital. 49% come from mobile, the rest is desktop. Over two times of these numbers are seen globally.

4 major areas they are investing in: video, digital advertising, integrated marketing, data (ad-tech: programmatic and data).

The area of programmatic is not only complicated and fascinating, but also a crowded area of business. Question is how to most effectively navigate that “mess”?

Publishers, according to Rich Welch, have three main goals:

  • create compelling content,
  • great users experience,
  • create compelling packages to advertisers.

By navigating AdTech correctly and not ignoring it, Conde Nast can better achieve their three goals as publishers.

What they cover:

  • all programmatic media trading: buying and selling media
  • audience extension
  • data application
  • management of partner relationships
  • advisory on strategic investments

Programmatic is a problem, because it is used very often and incorrectly. For Condé Nast programmatic means automatization. It’s more than auction-based inventory, it also includes campaigns with data, and can also be used as a workflow efficiency. It’s in every place that involves data.

Thanks to programmatic, clients are given options, and it becomes another way of accessing the inventory – it’s giving clients a better access.

Recommendation how to build own programmatic strategy:
1. build your programmatic team
2. educate your sales force
3. co-sell: existing products plus programmatic options

The Onion’s evolution towards digital only publication

March 25, 2014 by  

Steve Hannah shared at the Digital Innovators Summit how they have transformed their weekly newspaper into a 24/7 digital media brand with new business models while staying true to their core brand.

The U.S. satirical news brand The Onion has become more successful by moving almost entirely to digital, increasing video production, creating native advertising that fits their brand and becoming a creative services agency that extends its comedy talents to advertisers.

For Steve Hannah content is king, and this is where Onion’s brand is built around. Onion finds inspiration everywhere, mostly from what actually happens around us. Here’s a piece that was inspired by a long time Steve Hannah had to spend on Prague airport:

The Onion is a news organization that is not afraid of tackling the truth. At the same time it follows all transitions that are happening on the market. In 1995 they went into digital, in 1999 Onion started first video operations. Or, as Steve Hannah said, Onion invented both.

In 2005 The Onion started its own programme, inspired again “by the bullshit seen on different TV stations” (yes, the logo of the programme is not coincidental):

Content is what sustains The Onion with 50 percent of the traffic coming from mobile. They moved their website from weekly to daily publication. There is much more content published today, and more news coming from the real news found elsewhere, in other media outlets.

The online performance of The Onion looks great – they have 9 million social followers. Putting pressure on the content paid of, they had 123% growth in page views, and 134% growth in uniques.

Like every publisher, The Onion needs cold, hard cash. In order to make more money they created Onion Labs. It’s purpose is to help other brands build audience. “We will build your brand with the same passion and creativity with witch we build our own” – says Onion Lab’s motto. They started to do white label works, many sponsored actions came along.

One of the examples could be the video prepared for YouTube, which by many for about 24 hours was believed to be true. It had 15 million plays, 120 mentions in media, 80.000 likes, 85.000 comments:

Another one is a piece done for Designer Shoe Warehouse. The client, DSW, had 793.000 video plays on site, and 6,450 million pageviews:

Thanks to the latest moves, The Onion managed to maintain integrity, and maintain brand.


Staying on the interactive marketing rocket – discussion

March 25, 2014 by  

Online adverting and marketing continues to increase its share of global advertising budgets. This session of Digital Innovators Summit featured the perspectives of global brands and a publisher on the state of online marketing – trends, what is working, where it is going and what publishers need to do to stay in the game.

Tina Beuchler, Chairwoman, OWM (German Advertisers Organization) and Head of Media Communications, Nestlé Deutschland AG (Germany) underlined the importance of ROBBI – the return of brand-bbuilding investment.

Advertising market in Germany is around 27 million Euro. TV is still dominant, growing last year 6%. Second biggest segment is print. Digital has grown to be the third. 11% of advertising spends is digital (in the last year it grew by 3,5% only, for the first time not being a double digit growth).

OWM supports brands to perform better. It calls for better ROBBI understanding. Tina Buechler reminded about the importance of cross channel advertising – it effects platforms and guarantees further investments in the market.


Steven Althaus, Director of Brand Management and Marketing Services, BMW Group (Germany), gave three strategic comperatives for their enveironment in the business area:
1. shift from hardware to software
2. shift from owning a car to using a car
3. shift from whole sale perspective to retail

Steven Althaus sees a strong paradigm shift from marketing. “Putting a lipstick on a gorilla” might just not be enough nowadays.

BMW has got reasons to speak about the importance of digital in their strategy. 85% of people they are targetting with i3 had never been BMW customers before. There is
a strong conversion of industries with cars becoming hotspots. “BMW also wants to know who drives their cars, and digital provides this knowledge. If we don’t do it – farewell” – says Althaus.

Key pillars of BMW strategy:
1. Evolve marketing
2. Learning from failures
3. Role of research
4. Experiential
5. Journey partners: consultants, marketeers and other very strong individuals


Marcus Rich, CEO, IPC Media (UK) underlined the role of content in digital strategy. IPC Media has 150 years of experience in creating the content. For IPC Media people are not just numbers.

IPC Media’s response towards todays digital market trends are:

  • Amplify – merging traditional content with brands, using the data and buying 3rd party audiences.
  • Inspired conversations – new revenue streams in new content areas.

For publishers content should remain king. And IPC Media employers can understand their clients perfectly.

Making the most out of Facebook

March 24, 2014 by  

How can media companies best make use of this social network with its more than one billion monthly users? Andy Mitchell talked during Digital Innovators Summit about the latest developments at Facebook that benefit media companies as well as effective ways publishers can work with Facebook.

Andy Mitchell is impressed with the mobile boom we are all experiencing. Facebook now has more than 1,23 billion users. People spend 16:50 minutes a day on Facebook on average.

Overall more news are being discovered on Facebook. 62% of social referrals come from Facebook. It drives 2 times more traffic than the closest alternative. In Germany 87% of news sharing happens on Facebook.

Bild. de reaches more than 1.3 million people on Facebook. How do they do it?

They don’t only publish headlines. They are sharing fun content too. Publishers need to think of their audiences. Share as much content as you find relevant. Facebook will pick up the right content for right people.

Facebook has done several improvements on the way, such as:

1. Improvements to NewsFeed:

  • made ranking changes to features high quality content
  • optimise News Feed for link shares
  • News Feed redesigns focusing on large images

2. Improvements to Pages:

  • making pages easier to read
  • focus on the main content column
  • simple chronological layout order

3. Launched verified pages. Trying to catch impostors as they sign up, but it’s very hard. Verifying the page by a publisher will bring up the page in News Feed.

4. Recommended articles now highlight related media content

5. New widget for page admins: stories to share. Shows page admins most popular stories on their page that haven’t been shared yet

6. Trending (only in the US) – based on your age, demographics and so on. Each of the trending topic includes headlines from Facebook media partners.

7. Paper – app launched 3 months ago. New way to navigate Facebook with new news sections.

8. Facebook Q&A’s:

  • Questions in comments in page posts
  • answered questions rank higher
  • achedule in advance and promote
  • use authentic voice

Andy Mitchell finished his presentation by saying how to get most from the News Feed. Here are his tips:

  1. Don’t set artificial limits on posting. If you are creating high quality content on your properties, you should use your Facebook page as a distribution channel for that content
  2. Nail your headline and test relentlessly. Don’t set limits on your publishing.
  3. Make your content easy to share – as many share buttons on the page as possible. Make sure users don’t have to search for the button or go back to the top of the
  4. page
  5. Make sure your content looks great when shared (use Open Graph). Also, use a Debugger. Optimise Open Graph tahs so
  6. content looks great when shared.

Cool is not an accident – how to make videos go viral

March 24, 2014 by  

You don’t have to wait for some happy coincidence to get a video that spreads across social media like a wildfire – you can make one yourself! Award winning and provocative director Joseph Wade (Don’t Panic, UK) talked during the Digital Innovators Summit conference about how to create multimedia content that people really want to share – even if it’s branded.
Joseph Wade brought YouTube’s Playbook at start – it tells all the basics about how to create a successful channel – even if most of the
information there is basic, it is always a good place to start.

Wade recognizes 4 main factors that make videos go viral:

1. Building a video on the back of another success. Some time ago this video (that in the end appeared to be a commercial after all) reached 63 million views in a couple of days.

The video appeared to be a fake but VICE decided to make a video that would be more true. It also was a great viral success. Most importantly, it was done very quickly:

2. Work on the content strategy. Don’t Panic created a scheme about how video works. According to Joseph Wade, Reddit is most important place to start the video. Once picked up there, the next step is Facebook and Twitter. Then portals like Buzzfeed or Mashable share the content. After them it’s big medias’ turn. The process is closed down again by Facebook. The whole thing takes about 3 days.

This process works everytime when Don’t Panic creates a viral video. And so did in that case:

3. Work on videos with strong emotional pulls:

4. Engage with vloggers

Fædrelandsvennen – All access success

March 24, 2014 by  

In May of 2012, Fædrelandsvennen launched a new business model. Speaking at the Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin, News Editor Christian Stavik reported his newspaper now has 75% coverage in its core market, which is the entire country of Finland.

The biggest risk was doing nothing within the changing environment, Stavik says, when the downturn in readership was generating substantial revenue loss.

The company had an idea to go from being a newspaper to selling a brand, wanting readers to engage with its content on all platforms.

The main goal of the new strategy was to provide an added value for existing subscribers, Stavik said. As such, a new editorial strategy and payment model was needed.

Fædrelandsvennen needed to change its entire organisation.

The strategy became one packet, one price. Readers subscribe to the brand, not to the platform. The company did not allow a subscriber to pick just one platform, such as the printed newspaper, for instance. The only option was to buy the full bundle.

Before the launch of paywall, thanks to its digital-first strategy, the company was seeing +34% growth in pageviews. The introduction of paywall did generate a loss, but not a huge one: 17% of reach. Currently, however, traffic is starting to grow again (+12% since May 2012), according to Stavik.

The subscription trend has also turned after the introduction of the paywall. The news media company started with a loss of five subscribers a day and a gain of four new subscribers every day. It is now the other way around, Stavik said.

Fædrelandsvennen created a big campaign to explain the readers why digital journalism costs money, proving that quality journalism on digital platforms is as expensive as in print. In addition, internal communication was key in the transformation.

On the other hand, the company’s mobile experience was a failure, and it didn’t manage to launch even one successful app. An attempt at a family subscription package was also a failure due to lack of communication.

“The biggest failure was that we should have launched and learned, but we launched and left instead,” Stavik said.

Further complicating the transition was that tech support was quite limited at the time, which meant several bugs were left unfixed and the company didn’t grab opportunity to track the data.

The next step for Fædrelandsvennen is to evolve the digital strategy and learn from failures. Stavik believes it was a strong start, but the company needs to keep moving and keep developing.