How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
The landscape of journalism has radically changed over the past 20 years, recently accelerated by Covid-19. Print circulation and revenues have declined dramatically, users and revenues have moved online, and competition from the tech giants and social media platforms for readers’ attention and for ad revenue has never been greater. With our subscription-first strategy, data and analytics is fundamental to support our corporate vision and purpose.
We use data and analytics to determine the interests of our readers, the editorial direction and the effectiveness of our marketing strategy to drive registrations and subscriptions. Data has enabled us to shift our strategy away from what journalists think may work towards looking at what readers actually want to read.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?
Covid-19 brought a sharp focus on the fundamental challenges for journalism. With advertisers tightening their belts and brands collapsing, £1 billion is predicted to drop off the industry’s topline revenue according to Enders Analysis. We are very much moving away from an advertising-led revenue model to a subscription and registration model, putting our readers at the heart of what we do.
There is a huge amount of data that we can gather from interactions with our own website. We are also getting smarter about how we use data collected online to assess engagement and to help determine what topics are of interest to our readers and to assess the level of engagement with our content and the performance of our marketing activity. We can see what editorial content is most read, what drives acquisitions and retention. This helps us to develop our own strategies to ensure that our content remains relevant to our readers.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
We are looking to do more with data. Having a destination website where people come to read their news and with constantly developing and improving technology, we have tremendous opportunities to get to know our readers better and to engage with them. Over and above our existing customer database, we will be building a more sophisticated database to enable us to better use information and data gathered from online interactions, both on an anonymised basis and on a consented user ID basis. This will help us drive our product development. Personalisation of our readers’ online experience of the Telegraph is high on our agenda for 2021.
Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?
Data for good per se is not on our agenda for 2021. However, we are using data to support high-quality independent journalism, which is fundamental for the proper operation of democracy. As an industry, we are looking at how data can be used to help against the surge of fake news. We are looking at how to tackle online harms and working with industry groups to tackle the misuse of data in advertising, online targeting, tackling obesity and the advertising of unhealthy foods, as well as child abuse online. We are participating with government reviews pertaining to regulating the digital world and engage with competition and data protection authorities across Europe on policy, in particular in relation to e-privacy.
What has been your path to power?
Digital innovation has fundamentally transformed the way we live and work, transcending geographical and jurisdictional boundaries. The hyper-connectivity of people, businesses and organisations domestically and globally over the internet and mobile technology means that the global economy is fast transforming into a digital economy and conventional notions of how businesses are structured are being challenged.
The growing use of data, analytics and AI in multiple applications from consumer behaviours to health, across domestic and global markets, has become the central driver of business strategy across the world. Traditional regulatory frameworks lack the agility to accommodate the rapid pace of change. Regulators across UK, Europe, US and Australia have been challenged to change the way they regulate. Prescriptive rules have been replaced with principle-based regulation; domestically focused legislation has become extra-territorial; regulators and administrative bodies are co-operating and sharing information.
As a lawyer with multi-jurisdictional and data expertise, it has been extremely rewarding to have been invited to work with committees, industry bodies and regulators to help address these challenges and evolve regulatory practices across the world to allow the development of technology for the benefit of society, while mitigating against online harms.
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
Being part of IAB Europe’s steering committee working on the development of the Transparency and Consent Framework.
Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?
As mentioned above, Covid-19 brought a sharp focus on the fundamental challenges for journalism. We need to keep innovating and developing our product to meet those challenges. With our website, we have a rich source of data. We will need to evolve the way we use it to understand our audiences better, to focus on what works for our readers, and to enable us to collaborate and tailor our content for our audiences, delivering a personalised experience. With the proliferation of fake news, we are working with the industry to look at how data can help us rebuild trust in journalism and to build media literacy.
How closely aligned to the business are data and analytics both within your own organisation and at an industry level? What helps to bring the two closer together?
As identified in “A sustainable future for journalism” by the Cairncross Review in February 2019, “the scale of the threat to the press was abundantly clear. The news publishing business is undergoing an extraordinary period of contraction in both of its main traditional sources of revenue: advertising and circulation.” News publisher revenues are driven by advertising and sales. Data and analytics is central to helping us deliver our strategy and revenues, as it is to our industry as a whole.
What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?
Like many other things, plant a seed, keep watering it and watch it grow.