Data Will Save Your Project, It’s Time You Got Utilized


Data, we have never been more concerned about it and it has never been more important to our lives.  Whether it is bank account information, quantifying your loyal band of social media followers or running a media project, data is crucial.

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This is good; in fact, it is fantastic as data has the power to change our lives (both working and professional) for the better exponentially and nowhere is more evident of a fact that in the media industry, as data utilization breathes new life into projects of all shapes and sizes across the world.

Utilize your team for the best results

Data utilization is the rate at which business adapt to handling and analysing data.  Simply put, if you have a team of 10 members, of which eight are trained to handle and analyse the data your company and data analytics tool collects, then you have a data utilization rate of 80%.

It makes your team more productive and willing to experiment, boosts your profit earning potential by improving commercial viability and opens up completely new areas for your project to exploit, areas which would not have been discovered without an understanding of data.

Data utilization is what you need to make fundamental changes to your project  This could be altering your editorial style, deciding to switch to another monetization model, or moving from print to online media.

A major decision made by countless editors across the media industry, online transition is a key trend and requires data utilization to succeed.

This was the challenge faced by Slobodna Dalmacija, one of the leading newspapers in Croatia.  Once a prominent national daily, Slobodna Dalmacija experienced a problem faced by newspapers all over the world; declining print sales.

Decided that a completely new strategy was required in order to survive, Slobodna Dalmacija’s leadership realised that data utilization would unlock their project’s future as a strong and widely read news website.

With a core team of 12 editors, technical officers and managers, and an outer team of up to 100 writers and contributors, ensuring full data utilization seemed a daunting task to many on the team.

Data helps you quit nasty habits

Miran Katusic, Slobodna Dalmacija’s editor-in chief, is adamant that the becoming a fully data utilized and driven team has been hugely beneficial.

‘It took us couple of weeks to see the effects, mainly on our homepage effectiveness, we previously positioned articles on our homepage based on total number of page views they received,’ Katusic said.

‘That meant some articles with high social traffic would end up on top positions although our homepage visitors weren't really that interested in them. That was a bad practice we successfully abandoned thanks to better data.’

As the team became more utilized, their understanding of their content and audience increased in direct correlation.

Starting with absolutely no experience of data, the core team is now 100% data utilized, with half of the outer team of writers and contributors learning to work with data.

For many of the writers, most of whom had only worked entirely with print media, the realisation that their work continued after publication was a shock.  In online media, unlike print, the hard work often comes after each article is published, so Katusic focused on teaching the importance of metrics to his team.

Data delivers bottom line results

Let us take recirculation for example. For a long time no one really thought about recirculation here but now, if we want, we can focus on improving it.

In that process we learn how recirculation can have huge effects on page views, time on site, even our Adsense performance (and thus our paychecks). Then in couple of weeks, we see lots of better-structured articles, more crosslinks and related content in our articles etc.

Katusic’s approach work.  From facing a long decline into obscurity or even pulp, Slobodna Dalmacija’s reorientation to online thanks to data utilization is propelling the website to re-occupy its position as one of Croatia’s leading news outlets.

By using an analytics tool tailored made for their team, Slobodna Dalmacija’s editors fostered a data driven approach amongst their writers to focus on page views, readability (indicating content quality), and recirculation (which illustrates how addictive the content is).

Slobodna Dalmacija highlights the overwhelming benefits of data utilization, benefits which are easy to attain and maintain given the right tools and approach.

Article by Andrew Sweeney, IO Technologies