Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
2 mins read

How publishing companies are evolving to become data-first operations: The Media Roundup

How The Conversation uses audiences-informed commissioning

Three months ago, a UK-based team at The Conversation started experimenting with a different approach to commissioning. Instead of its established topic-led process, the cross-functional team – editors and audience development people – started commissioning stories with specific target audiences in mind.

They developed their target audience, young professionals initially, and set about explaining to staff the value in focusing on a small subset of The Conversation’s audience. They then introduced dashboards focused on key metrics that would show whether the approach was working. Their key measures, stay rates and completions, both increased significantly with targeted content.

How The Conversation uses audiences-informed commissioning

It’s easy to have a ‘no-shit-Sherlock’ reaction to the notion that audiences appreciate content targeted at them. But as post author Khalil A. Cassimally points out, “Yes, editors did think about audiences when commissioning and editing stories but it’s fair to say that audiences were not necessarily considered in a systematic way.” That’s probably true for many publications and the honesty in this is very refreshing.

The continued evolution of media companies to become data-first operations

Echoing the work at The Conversation, Tony Silber writes that many niche media brands are shifting their business model to focus on obtaining insights about audience segments, and selling those insights to advertisers. He cites two examples in this post of publishing companies – Gannet and EPG – evolving separate data companies to service the need.

10 insights from the FIPP World Media Congress 2022

Carolyn Morgan has written one of her trademark roundup pieces on what went on at the recent FIPP event in Portugal. Culture and leadership feature, as well as paywalls, pricing and membership, and the ubiquitous discussions on first-party data. However, one of the most interesting themes Carolyn highlights was competition vs collaboration and the idea that when gin sales rise so do tonic sales. All we have to do is find our perfect mixers.

Every newsroom needs to update its social media policies

This piece from Poynter starts with a reminder that there isn’t a publisher who doesn’t fear the next social media blow-up; reporters tweeting crass comments, fighting with trolls or with each other. In response to just such a blue-on-blue incident at the Washington Post, Poynter has put together a four-step framework for revising your newsroom social media policy.


This content originally appeared in The Media Roundup, a daily newsletter from Media Voices. Subscribe here: