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Marketing customer segmentation in media: Telegraph case study

Ananya Sadera

As the media landscape fragments, the Telegraph Media Group shows that making the effort to understand and segment customers across different platforms can pay dividends.

This is an incredible time to be working in customer insight. There are more ways than ever to gather data on customers and audiences, and more ways to give those people content, products and experiences that are designed with their needs and wishes in mind.

For the Telegraph Media Group, the digital world has opened up new challenges – but also new opportunities for the diversified media brand to really understand its different audiences, and start tailoring offers to those different segments.

At a recent CACI Customer Analytics seminar in London, the Telegraph Media Group’s head of customer insights, Paul Hatley, shared the company’s segmentation strategy and journey. This blog is a summary of Paul’s talk.

A diversified media brand

As the first quality newspaper to take its content online, in 1994, the Telegraph Media Group had a head start on other media organisations entering the digital world. But today, that world is dizzyingly complex, creating significant challenges for the Telegraph brand.

Paul Hatley, the Telegraph Media Group’s head of customer insights, described how the Telegraph has moved from being a traditional newspaper with a fairly simple business model, to a diversified group that in addition to producing quality journalism, also runs travel businesses, holds live events, and offers financial services.

A fragmenting audience

Gaining a clear view of its customers across all of those businesses is a challenge; particularly with the increasing fragmentation in the way Telegraph content is consumed. Some people buy the printed paper, some subscribe to the Telegraph online, others visit the site without subscribing, and some use a Telegraph app.

Compounding the issue is the rise of third-party content platforms like Google Newsstand, Facebook Instant Articles, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest. The Telegraph publishes content to all of these platforms, but at a cost: it loses sight of the customers that engage with its content there.

Creating meaningful segments

The Telegraph Media Group’s mission has been to get a handle on all of this disparate customer (or reader) data, and develop an intelligent segmentation that will allow it to understand its audience as individuals, and to promote its content and offers in a personalised way – both to known customers and unknown readers.

That’s involved a huge effort to pool data into a data lake, and use it to identify core segments, based on how they engage with Telegraph content.

Caption: The Telegraph segments its online and offline readership

The overall aim is to convert “unknown” audience members into identifiable people – by encouraging them to sign up for a newsletter, or subscribe to access premium content. Once they move from “green” to “blue”, the Telegraph Media Group can start to profile them and target them with relevant, personalised offers.

Socialising the segments

Paul Hatley explained that this segmentation is something that’s being socialised throughout the Telegraph – not just to its marketing and ad sales divisions, but right through to the editorial team, whose work is central to inspiring more people to register and turn themselves into identifiable customers.

“We used to show the journalists a dashboard of things like most-clicked and most-shared articles,” he said. “The language we used wasn’t about people – it was about audience, and IDs. Now, we show the journalists how their content is driving registrations and subscriptions. It’s about people, and what our content inspires them to do. It’s a fundamental change.”

Towards people-based marketing with a DMP

Segmenting its content audience is just one part of the Telegraph’s current journey with data. Now, the company is pioneering the use of a data management platform (DMP) to develop broader segments based around interests like travel and financial services. It plans to use those audience segments not only to promote its own travel and financial services offers, but also to develop attractive packages for advertisers.

“It’s leading to people thinking more about individuals, and targeting at an individual level rather than in broad terms of clicks and views and shares,” said Paul Hatley. It’s early days for us, but it’s a really interesting time.”


Discover how other leading brands are using customer segmentation to drive growth:

How Lloyds Banking Group nailed customer segmentation

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Ananya Sadera