Knowledge Bridge

Global Intelligence for the Digital Transition

Big Data for media: Opportunities, challenges and best practices

The Big Data hype of 2013 turned into reality in 2014. Media companies are using Big Data “to better understand cross-platform audiences, create powerful data journalism stories, streamline business processes and identify new products and services to offer customers”, says Martha Stone in a report for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Big Data is “an umbrella term for a variety of strategies and tactics that involve massive data sets, and technologies that make sense out of these mindboggling reams of data”. The report explains that the media industry can think of Big Data as “the Four Vs, including:

  • volume of data;
  • velocity of data, meaning it needs to be analysed quickly;
  • in a variety of structured and increasingly unstructured data formats;
  • which all have potential value in terms of high quality journalism and business insights and revenue.”

Media companies can use Big Data analysis to improve many aspects of their business performance, such as understanding their audience and better targeting customers, crunching huge data sets to uncover stories, directing campaigns, improving decision-making and creating business efficiencies.

The report provides detailed examples from several leading media companies using Big Data to develop their audience and business, including:

  • Huffington Post, which “uses Big Data to optimise content, authenticate comments, ensure efficacy of native advertising, regulate advertising placement and create passive personalisation”.
  • BuzzFeed, which uses Big Data pre-publication to predict the virality of articles by identifying “characteristics with predictive relationship to virality”, and post-publication to “optimise the article’s promotion”.
  • The Financial Times, which uses registration data collected through its metered paywallMetered PaywallThe metered paywall allows users to view a specific number of articles before…//read more  “to serve the customer better, create targeted advertising campaigns and create new products based on information collected on background and areas of interest to its readers”.

The report also examines training data journalists and data-driven automation in journalism, as well as lessons from beyond the media sector.

Article by Peter Whitehead

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