Industry Voices

Danny Williams | Managing Director | Media Division | Global Data

By Sorcha Mondon

2 Nov 2021

The language of data can sometimes be hard to understand, but not when talking to Danny Williams. This week we speak to the Managing Director of the Media Division at Global Data about the Government's changing data policy, how publishers can maximise their use of first party data and what we can learn from advertising agencies.

What made you want to work in publishing?

I started out as a B2B journalist in the dotcom boom. I was watching all these people my age getting involved in exciting new tech businesses. I realised very quickly I wanted to understand more about the business of journalism and how I could bring tech and content together.

Data is a hot topic within publishing but can at times feel inaccessible – what advice would you give to someone who wants to start learning the language of data?

I think lots of publishers are a bit scared of tech. But a lot of publishing is about data - it's about understanding your audiences and matching that to what content you're creating. To me, there are a lot of similarities between how publishers think, and how people in the tech world think - it's all about data, how you apply it, and what you do with it. So a good start is learning the language of data, understanding how AI tools work and after that a lot of it is common sense - will these tools work for my business or not?

A concern within the collection of first party data and the creation of AI is the lack of reflection of diversity, how can publishers best equip themselves to combat this?

When we introduced our audience analytics platform here, there was a lot of concern from the editorial teams about it for exactly these reasons. The best thing you can do is be transparent about what your tools are, how you're using them. And be transparent with your audience too. You want their feedback and their input. I think when it comes to first party data and especially AI tools that trust is a competitive differentiator for publishers.

This government is invested in changing data policy – in what ways do you think this will affect magazines the most?

The government seems confused about data policy at the moment, judging by its recent comments about cookies and GDPR. Yes, it would be great for readers to have fewer consent pop-ups but that's not what really matters. What matters is that readers know why they're giving personal data to publishers, what the publisher is doing with that information. It needs to be a fair value exchange between reader and publisher.

A topic of concern in the industry has been the demise of third party cookies – what can publishers do so their marketing isn’t affected by this?

First-party data. Publishers are in a unique place to build first-party datasets because they (typically) provide something that their users want and trust them for. Publishers should be doing everything they can to build more and more data about their readers, they should put themselves in a position where readers are happy to give them that information because they trust the publisher to use it to improve their product. Ultimately that should be good for readers too.

What’s on your radar?

Advertising agencies - they get data and how to use it. There needs to be much more crossover between agencies and the media/publishing world, particularly around how you use data to analyse audiences which is something you can use to drive new revenue streams as well as to improve your product.

What magazine do you stockpile?

In English, it's definitely The Economist. I like the familiar format, the way I know how to navigate the magazine both in print and online. And a German weekly called Der Freitag for exactly the opposite reason - it has articles I wouldn't expect to read.

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