Northern & Shell digital investment includes moves to protect data as programmatic potential increases

Northern & Shell are investing in the development of their CRM systems in a bid to secure the publisher’s data as digital trading techniques form a more substantial part of the business, according to head of programmatic Ben Hancock.

Trading: Northern & Shell is embracing programmatic

Speaking to The Drum about the company’s evolving digital strategy and increased use of automated trading, Hancock said that a steady rise of the method within the publisher’s advertising strategy had placed more urgency on protection of data to ensure it can be fully monetised and avoid third-party access to it.

“At the minute we’re making a really big investment in digital and that’s coming right from the top of the business,” he said. “Everyone’s completely behind digital and programmatic within the business. There are a lot of new skill sets needed from traditional media so there’s been a bit of a shift.

“One of the big things we’re investing in is our own CRM database that’s going to manage touchpoints for our users across all of our content whether it’s social media, whether it’s on the site, whether it’s email, we’re going to be able to reach those users using data segments, so that’s a really big investment for us.

“We’re making a huge investment in our own CRM platforms here – one of the most valuable things we have around is data, and it’s something we need to be careful with, a key strategy around our monetisation.”

Hancock – who deals with programmatic across the Express, Daily Star and OK magazine, acknowledged the potential risks around programmatic and brand safety in advertising, but said that as use of the technique increased he was confident that technology would improve.

“In terms of brand safety we’ve noticed that you can end up with some less than desirable adverts on the site so certainly as the technology improves that’s going to stop those kinds of adverts appearing,” he said.

“Obviously there’s a risk to us if we’re seen to be promoting something illegal but I think the technology around that is improving quite quickly. It’s a very diverse marketplace and there are a lot of players out there who see a problem and are quite quickly able to build a solution to stop it.”

The proportion of advertising coming through programmatic is now “significant”, according to Hancock, although he declined to put a specific figure on it. He did confirm that “pretty much all” of the Express, Daily Star and OK inventory is available programmatically now across desktop, mobile and tablet, and the titles trade advertising both on the open exchange and private marketplaces.

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