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Prisma’s Philipp Schmidt on ‘the big data myth, keys to industry transition’

Philipp Schmidt is the chief transformation officer for Prisma Media in France. Here, he talks us through some of the key challenges associated with updating traditional media brands, and now that the industry migration from print to digital has largely been made, looks at the next set of digital changes facing media.  


Please introduce us to your role at Prisma and some of your key focusses there…

“We talk about transformation. Transformation in the media industry 2.0, which basically means how you can transform your business model and your culture to be better prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. I am in charge of transformation, and the mission is basically to accelerate and more deeply implement transformation in the whole organisation. So it can be expertise like video, data, but also corporate culture and increasing the employer brand to get better talent on-board. So it’s a lot of different things.” 

What are the key transition points, or areas of change, faced by media today?  

“So in the beginning it was print to digital, what is more like a multi-channel challenge, which has now been done and implemented and it’s working rather well. Audiences are growing, and also monetising those audiences is getting better and better. But the new challenge for us would be to go from digital now to more data driven. Why is that so? Because we think that data helps to augment the experience between consumers and our brands, because transformational media basically goes a step further to personalised experiences. Everything comes from the consumer perception of value. If that has been assured you can capture that value and make your company successful in the future.” 

So is big data something you are focussing om quite strongly then?  

“A lot of people talk about big data. We rather prefer to define it as smart data. To be applicable and applied, business relevant data, for four different fields of interest, which would be first obviously for a publisher to enhance experiences with readers and our brands. Personalised TV guides for instance. Second would be for our own client marketing, so to recruit subscribers – content subscribers – better, faster, and with a longer lifetime value.”

“Third would be for advertisers to target audiences and to engage them in a more brilliant way to drive advertising solutions rather than just exposing audiences. And the last part, what we talk about a lot, is being able to make decisions fast and well. Meaning being able to use data for more dash-boarding, our own reporting tools, using KPIs in all different instances for the company to make faster and better decisions.”

Where does the most difficult challenge lie when it comes to transitioning traditional media brands for the future environment?

“Definitely again it’s corporate culture. Especially data is such a good example. Because when you have a transversal data project in a company you can literally put the finger everywhere it hurts within the company, where people have their chapels and want to defend them. Because data is everywhere. And it only makes sense if you open those structures. You share it, you structure it, you analyse it, and you use it the way I just described. And to make that happen you have to change the culture.”

“So let’s take one example which is historically the Holy Saint of data for any publisher: the paid print subscribers. So obviously you have to open that and make it tangible for also the internal decision makers, be it publishers, or the boss of client marketing, to say ‘we will not burn your database!’ We will just use it in a very smooth and just way to keep the right balance between monetising it and also augmenting the experience of the actual user and reader. Only if both objectives are attained at the same time, then the company has a great future. That’s only one example out of many.”

And finally, how can publishers better adapt to the next wave of change that is coming down the track?   

“I definitely think that through data we will have a new era of alliances. I don’t think any national player will be able to cope with the challenges of the future alone – even the most powerful ones – because we also have a digital environment, strong American platform competitors. So we have to team up and propose stronger solutions for readers and for advertisers.”

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