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Ken Macpherson, head of consumer data and insight, DMG Media

Ken Macpherson

Path to power

Starting out in a data list management and brokerage company, Uni-Marketing, I began my career in the world of data by managing many different publishing companies’ customer databases and helping them to monetise these on the list rental market.

 

Moving on Wegener DM, I took on the challenge of helping to maximise customer lifestyle surveys and the sponsorship opportunities for clients to gather data to help their businesses grow. From here, I moved to CACI, where I began to understand building single customer view databases for many different companies. We helped them to identify opportunities to improve reporting, insight and customer communications.

 

After working on the SCV for Telegraph Media Group, I joined the publishing company on a full-time basis to help leverage the customer database and work on building various segmentation models to help the business understand who its customers were. I’m now at the Daily Mail, where again I’m working on helping the business to understand and use the customer database to its full potential – in particular the democratisation of data.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

There are two, first, while at the Telegraph, we implemented a new data management platform which was a first for UK publishers and changed the way online audience data was used in the industry; now every publisher has a DMP. Secondly, the data democratisation at the Daily Mail now sees a suite of real-time self-serve customer data dashboards that can be accessed by colleagues all around the business.

 

Who is your role model or the person you look to for inspiration?

A tricky one, but, in terms of my career, there were a few colleagues at CACI who really helped me advance in my role and invested a lot in me personally. This provided me with the inspiration to continue to learn - and improve still today.

 

Did 2019 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

2019 was very different to what I was expecting. Working in newspapers has taught me that things change rapidly and that you need to be able to pivot. Last year, changed for us, launching a new product in Mail+ Briefings, which is a new way to consume news in brief three times a day. One of the big changes for me was switching focus to accommodate this new product by concentrating on acquisition and audience retention; this also meant we needed to look at the type of skills we required on the team.

 

What do you expect 2020 to be like for the data and analytics industry?

Exciting, I think the way the industry is evolving is incredible and the opportunities it offers mean businesses can benefit. I expect AI and machine learning to continue to improve and create new ways for businesses to understand and use data. I also think the industry will continue to be challenged by business to show the value of data and analytics.

 

Data and technology are changing business, the economy and society – what do you see as the biggest opportunity emerging from this?

For me, the opportunities mean businesses can adapt to be more relevant to their customers. As everything becomes more competitive, with an ever increasing choice available to consumers, it’s vital that businesses strive to be more relevant, this can mean new products or new ways to communicate with customers. The continued improvements in data and technology help businesses to improve as well, things such as AI feeding CRM platforms mean that once very complex customer journeys can be built quickly and easily.

 

What is the biggest tech challenge you face in ensuring data is at the heart of your digital transformation strategy?

Personally, the business has invested in putting data at the heart of transformation, however, the challenges are still lots of siloed data, legacy platforms, data validation and time. A focus for 2020 is to remove the silos and legacy platforms to help speed up the process of getting insights and in a way the business understands and can act on.

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