Know Your Readers, Serve Your Readers

The New York Times, which is about to unveil its own pay wall, is looking admiringly at London’s Financial Times in an article about the power of, and fight over, data.

“We’ve moved almost from the dark ages to an age of enlightenment in terms of understanding our readers,” John Ridding, the chief executive of The FT, said last week.

Mr. Ridding said improvements in collecting and mining customer data were a big reason digital sales accounted for 24 percent of The FT’s revenue last year.

The FT, one of the few papers to charge readers successfully on the Internet, said it had 207,000 subscribers to its Web site and other digital versions of its newspaper, up 50 percent from a year earlier.

The article also points out that customer data are also at the core of a growing dispute between publishers and Apple over the terms of its new service offering digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines via the iPad tablet computer or the iPhone. Not only does Apple intend to keep 30 percent of revenue from such sales, the company also plans to keep customer data to itself.

I read something recently about how Apple hates Facebook. Maybe it’s the fact they FB is the king of data, that gets Apple’s goat.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.