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Why Newspapers Need Big Data To Stay Alive

News and media veterans like Steven Korn have seen a truly amazing shift in news within the last decade. As media finalizes its shift to online-based content delivery, exciting new opportunities come to companies who take advantage of it.

Of course, on the other side of the spectrum are the companies that have not hopped onto the trends related to online media. These companies are typically smaller local media and newspaper companies. In many cases, local and small media are missing out on a great deal of potential. This holds particularly true with the concept of big data. And without big data assisting them, newspapers and local media companies are falling behind on how news works in the Internet age.

The Big Data Potential in Small Media

As media professional Steven Korn explains, big data simply refers to extremely large data sets that are unmanageable through traditional, old-fashioned methods. Big data is extremely important in practically every industry. When it comes to media and news, however, that importance is even more paramount.

Phil Mui, Chief Product and Engineering Officer of data and tech firm Acxiom, explained this importance in a recent post on marketing blog Ad Exchanger. As he described it, “For marketers, ‘big data’ represents a challenge and an opportunity to develop intelligent analytical tools to better reach their customers at the right channel, right time, and right device.”

The advantage to big data is the amount of potential revenue marketers and other businesses can generate. By directly reaching viewers and customers with improved means derived from big data, the overall revenue potential of a business could easily improve.

As Mui continued, “Big data promises significant payoffs: it enables marketers to invest proportionally to the value of existing or potential customer relationships, often in real-time. More importantly, big data promotes a culture of data-informed decision making.”

Reaching Your Audience Where They Are

Reaching customers in a more intuitive and useful way remains a top concern for media and news companies. This holds especially true in the world of newspapers and local media. In these markets, a shifting paradigm of media is adding challenges to their ability to remain competitive in the media industry.

A blog post from Mark Ramsey Media recently commented on the increasing importance of big data in media. Despite the rise of importance, however, many smaller media companies and newspapers are far behind on utilizing this type of information.

As Ramsey discussed in his post, “Not every local TV and radio station and newspaper company is the Washington Post. But every local media company has relationships with their consumers. And these relationships are close, habitual, longstanding and excruciatingly and uniquely local. It is shocking, then, how little is known about the vast majority of consumers of local media content by the companies which serve up that content daily.”

An accompanying problem with this gap in user knowledge and understanding by local media is a pointless aggregation of data in outmoded databases. As Ramsey continued, “And even more shocking: When data is gathered by local media companies, it’s often in separate, incompatible and dusty databases that can’t conceive of talking to each other in an integrated, useful way…”

How Newspapers Can Utilize Big Data

According to media veterans like Steven Korn, utilizing the Internet has completely changed the face of news in the world today. As he recently stated, “The Internet has been a game changer for the media industry. Big data and analytics drive everything, and helps facilitate decision making processes from purchasing to distribution of the news.”

It’s clear that as news has trended toward the importance of big data, newspapers have fallen behind the pack. As former Vice Chairman of CNN, and as the former Publisher of The Daily Report newspaper, Steven Korn recognizes the need for newspaper companies to get on-board with the increased demand for big data. Without a focus on this, media companies will simply find themselves outdated and outmaneuvered by competitors

“The more big data gets involved with media and the news, the better chances the news has to succeed,” Korn continued.

A recent report from the Newspaper Association of America shed some light on how newspapers can take advantage of big data. As noted by NAA Director of Communication Sean O’Leary, newspapers offer several unique advantages to other media sources when it comes to aggregating and utilizing big data. For one, they can offer a higher degree of personalized delivery of content and advertising better suited to customers. This type of targeted advertisement better connects customers to what they may be interested in or looking for. Accordingly, the potential for advertising revenue will also increase.

In the big race to define what it means to serve customers in new media, newspapers and local media are at risk for being left behind. Understanding the role and importance of big data is critical for newspapers to survive. As news experts like Steven Korn recognize, utilizing a newspaper’s strengths within big data could help carry them into a successful and enduring future.

Harvey Greer contributed to this post.

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