Looking Past ‘The Prism Of Fear’: News Corp’s Data Leader On the End of the Pageview Era

Remember when pageviews were the dominate metric of the Internet? Today, with publishers rapidly de-prioritizing page views, it’s starting to feel like an artifact of bygone days of the web, when “Mobile” was just a city down south.

Instead, publishers are adopting two practices to deliver value to brands: creating high-quality custom content programs, and smarter data analysis to deliver insights into consumer behavior.

Leveraging this kind of data is still an evolving practice, though. Raju Narisetti, SVP of strategy for News Corp., recently wrote a Digiday op-ed calling out newsrooms and advertisers for their often contradictory and wasteful data practices. We spoke with Narisetti about how brands, publishers, and brand publishers need to rethink their data practices in the post-pageview era.

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News Corp. SVP of Strategy, Raju Narisetti (via Jack Murray)

Should brand publishers and traditional journalism publishers think differently about measuring success?

[U]nlike most journalism, if you are a brand, the content is simply a vehicle to form a deeper relationship. It’s not the end in itself. If you’re GE or IBM, content is simply another way to form a deeper relationship.

So brands need to think a little differently about defining success in terms audience and measurement. Each brand and company needs granular metrics for itself, for its needs, even though the underlying broad metrics are still the same.

They also need to be aware of some of the risks. [When creating sponsored content], a lot of brands get enamored by relatively new media companies that brag about the fact that 50% of audience comes from social. But the idea of working with a content or media partner where you have no idea who 50% of audience will be each day is not actually a great thing. Fifty percent social may not match up to your needs — other than it seeming cool.

What can brands learn from traditional journalism publishers to deepen their audience relationships? What about the reverse?

I think the problem in newsrooms has been inability to institutionalize the use of data to do the right thing for journalism and for business. There’s been a lot of obsession about pageviews. And for all those that dismiss pageviews, as long as the ad model is based on pageviews, it remains a critical piece.

But I think newsrooms by-and-large have not paid enough attention to loyalty. By that, I mean visits and repeat visits. It means somebody is a digital reader. It means somebody has the opportunity to visit you and how many times do they come back? If you are thinking about how many times you brought somebody back, then you can think about what are the right metrics to consider.

What are brand publishers doing wrong with data?

The part that worries me a lot is what brands aren’t paying attention to: privacy collection and privacy monetization. I think even publishers are only now starting to pay attention to it.

This is an important shift. Until now, data was seen only through prism of fear. Publishers haven’t thought through the privacy economy. I think brands engaging users directly ought to have serious data policies. I don’t think brands have paid particularly attention, but publishers are learning from this. If you’re going to do a strong content strategy, you have to excellent customer data strategy.

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