Digital Transformation

Northern and Shell head of data saw more change in 12 months in publishing than 12 years in retail


By Charlotte McEleny | Asia Editor

May 6, 2016 | 3 min read

Having a clear focus on data strategy is key for publishers, revealed Northern and Shell’s head of data and CRM Paul Calver.

Speaking at The Drum’s Media Slap event in London yesterday, he revealed that a turbulent media landscape meant that having focus and being flexible had been crucial for the publisher when starting on its course to build out its data capabilities and in-house technology stack.

“In the past 12 months I have seen more change than in 12 years in retail,” he said, “The ability to adapt and not stick to one approach is important.”

Northern and Shell

Calver described the process that happened in order to build its Northern and Shell Audience Platform, which brings together user data, behavioural data and third party data together to create a single customer view that advertisers can buy across all of its media properties.

“It brings complexity, we need to engage where [our readers] do. Realistically we don’t care now where because we are working towards profiles of individuals. Different people consume different types of content in different areas. This gives us ability to adapt and flex. It comes back to bring everything in one place and focus on that vision,” said Calver.

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Calver said that many people approach it by looking at all of the data and spending a lot of time and money on tech for tech’s sake. He said instead people need to ask ‘why’ and make sure the solution fits that question.

“You must have a vision. Many feel like you need to get the data and then commercialise it but you will make bad decisions. Really knowing what you are going to do with it once you have the data is key: ‘why’ is the most important question,” he said.

An example of this in practice was Northern and Shell switching its data management platform. Calver said they did it not because the new DMP had better technology, because it didn’t, but it better suited the needs of the business.

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