Digital subscriptions are key to O Globo’s Big Data strategy

Starting with customers who read its free products, O Globo builds on its list of potential subscribers — for itself and advertisers — by using Google, Apple’s Newsstand, Google Play’s Newsstand, and third-party data.

Editor’s note: This is one of 17 case studies featured in INMA’s strategic report “Making Big Data Smarter For Media Companies,” released in December.

Digital subscriptions to O Globo, parent company Infoglobo’s most important brand, are the cornerstone of its Big Data strategy, says Marcello Moraes, CEO of Infoglobo.

A year into this model, Infoglobo recognises that digital subscriptions remain a niche market, so its first task is identifying prospects that are already aware of O Globo and are “power users of news,” Moraes says.

To do that, Infoglobo relies heavily on consumers who access its free products, encouraging frequent users to register with O Globo, then offering elements of the subscription product to registered users before offering a full subscription.

To reach potential subscribers who are not frequent users of Infoglobo’s free properties but are avid news readers, the company uses Google to segment prospects in the display network and Facebook to identify “news junkies” — especially those interested in the distinctive kinds of news that differentiate its products.

It also uses Apple’s Newsstand application and Google Play’s Newsstand, creating a more limited, subscription-based version of its digital package for those platforms and then creating a pool of prospects for full subscriptions from among those subscribers. To locate additional prospects, the company turns to third-party data.

While most of its current effort is focused on subscriptions, Infoglobo also offers solutions for advertisers. A current pilot programme is combining third-party data and consumer behaviour information culled from its own properties to draw conclusions about consumers for ad targeting.

Infoglobo has been involved in data mining for years, going to back to a time when its focus was driving print subscriptions. Yet new digital tools have enabled it to use multiple data sources to refine both the product and the marketing of digital subscriptions.

“We have the logs of every ID on our digital properties; we have third-party data; and we have the targeting capabilities of vendors such as Google and Facebook,” Moraes says. “By leveraging these resources, and others, we are able to come up with an increasingly accurate performance on identifying and approaching prospects.”

Infoglobo has also used data analysis vendors and ad-serving software for more than four years now and has seen a rapid evolution in both areas.

“The challenge is to remain both consistent and flexible in the use of data,” Moraes says. “We have to be consistent in our goals and in the metrics we use, both for us and for the advertisers. At the same time we have to be able to incorporate new developments, test new products, not over-commit to a vendor or a system.

“Hence, we need to be very careful in the way we structure our deals with our vendors. We make tests, pilot programmes, and limited-time commitments a key part of our work with all these tools.”

Infoglobo exercises great caution with data it collects from prospects and clients, trying to live up to high expectations of its brands that are established by the quality of its journalism.

“A subscription business is a relationship business,” Moraes says. “And trust is a big part of the relationship. We only share the data with other companies within our media group and are very strict in the way it can be used.”

There is still much more Infoglobo could do to fully exploit the possibilities for personalisation and targeting of content and advertising, Moraes says. Infoglobo is now in the process of enhancing efforts in both areas, having learned of many instances in which other companies have used such efforts to enhance value for both users and advertisers.

Moraes sees further potential in leveraging data from across all the media group’s properties, and Infoglobo is taking steps to build a central registration tool. By concentrating this vast array of data in one repository, Moraes believes the company can generate additional insights into potential uses.

This would allow the Infoglobo to package together products from different companies in its portfolio and to develop new products based on the knowledge in the data pool.