Big data – buzzwords for (sm)all publishing houses?

Big data for and by the media – what challenges ahead and what opportunities these two words hold. I often wonder who is triggered by these buzzwords in this publishing industry of ours? Small, medium or big publishers? Especially as I’m heading up to one of the most important events for the media industry next week: the “Big Data for Media Week” organized by INMA in London.

In my daily business, I deal with a lot of prospects and publishing customers – big, medium and small – all trying to make it work. Most of them are entrepreneurs, early adapters even, investing substantial efforts in restructuring, educating, engineering and their human capital aka employees. All eager to explore deep insights about their customer readers to investigate to what degree they are loyal lovers of their brand. For this they deploy various content types (text, podcasts, images, vlogs, videos, …) which can be targeted, leveraged, categorized to customer groups and ultimately, analyzed. It’s this experience that builds the reputation of a publishing house and is invaluable to all those involved in the process. Whether you’re a media publisher, advertisement supplier, intelligent IT solutions vendor or even the reader/consumer.

Everyone agrees to this. Right?

What however baffles – and frankly concerns – me most, is the pungent absence of medium and smaller publishers at events on this topic, even when hosted by industry-leading associations.  I’ve joined these events all over the world on a regular basis and I always end up seeing the same faces and speakers. Where is the other 95% of our media industry hiding at these valuable conferences?

Sooner or later, even small or medium publishers will simply have to embark on big data. It’s not a matter of “if”, it will be the necessity of “when”.  Obviously, it will be scaled in comparison to the big shots likes of FT, BBC, New York Times or Schibsted, but a necessity nonetheless.

Regional publishers have a clearly defined audience. They focus on delivering specific local content to serve the local needs of their readers. A forte that makes them unique, but it won’t prevent them from suffering from the attention span refocus of young consumers towards alternative channels of media and information consumption. Instead of just being reactive to this trend, they should pro-actively use the big data tools, means and strategies at their disposal. These will help them to attract and retain the attention of younger generations for valuable tailored content. Use the data, wield the knowledge, retain your audience.

With that in mind, I am particularly looking forward to the speech of Steffen Damborg Digital Media Consultant and Former Chief Digital Officer, JP/Politiken Local Media, Denmark Talking about “Big Data Business Models for Small- and Medium-Sized Media Operations.” Right up my alley and that of many customers.

We are, after all, a vendor of highly automated mobile publishing solutions. We feel the further research and integration of a variety of intelligent tracking and analyzing modules is essential to support the bi-directional stream of content and audience insights. We’re confident this will boost the evolution of data analytics to engage audiences and ultimately, grow revenue. We gained very good experience with one of the biggest national newspapers in Germany as well with small and medium publisher projects around the globe. But more can be done.

So thank you INMA for putting this topic on the agenda. I’m confident it will be an inspiring session, will keep you posted!

I hope to see many a new face in London. See you there?



Rainer Kirschke


Business Manager Mobile Publishing