Charting the Customer Journey From End-to-End With Michael Chiang, Director, Campaign Operations, NYTimes

The New York Times is lauded as the poster child for getting audience targeting with first-party data in a privacy-first world right. And those accolades come with good reason.

In fact, they built their own data program for their direct-sold program and that has accounted for more than 20% of the media behemoth’s core revenue. They have fully replaced third-party data in their direct-sold program, now selling more audience targeted impressions than ever before.

But the Times is also about the business of getting data out of silos to harness the power of marketing, customer, and advertising data towards a more collective, data-driven business.

“Although our marketing team has their focus off-site, and they need to figure out their own strategies for dealing with deprecations of third-party cookies,” says Sasha Heroy, Executive Director Product, The New York Times.

Heroy’s department is building tools that are useful for marketing to identify potential subscribers based on interest or other audience attributes they’ve predicted for a given user. And they’re also looking at identifying content that might be of interest to a reader based on what they’ve learned about them. The tooling they’re building to support this is going to be useful to various parts of the company and will provide a more cohesive data strategy.

Over on the other side of the business, Michael Chiang, Director, Campaign Operations, The New York Times, is using Action IQ CDP to quickly create, deploy and evaluate campaigns. And eventually, the work that Heroy is doing in her department will help to inform the work that Chiang’s team is doing to fully view the customer journey from end to end.

Lynne d Johnson: Why are CDPs becoming increasingly important?

Michael Chiang: When you do the (hard) work of properly implementing a CDP, afterward you’ll find that it pays off in a lot of ways. With a CDP, the level of control we have means that we feel a lot more confident that our readers’ data is being managed respectfully and responsibly.

Furthermore, you discover things about your customer’s journey you may not have been previously aware of because you are leveraging all your first-party data correctly and looking at it hopefully from end-to-end, rather than in a transactional or piecemeal sort of way.

LdJ: Is it true that some of the benefits of a CDP include streamlining marketing operations or providing more seamless user experiences, as well as maximizing customer lifetime value?

MC: The more complex and ambitious your marketing efforts are, the more you benefit from investing in this sort of work. If you do it right, it lets you really scale. The important thing is to accurately fix your overall vision against all this effort you are putting in.

LdJ: We’re hearing some publishers talk about the blurred lines or convergence of martech and ad tech and taking customer data out of its many silos within a media organization to provide a holistic view and greater insights. How does that play out for you guys at the NYTimes, especially as your business now operates under a subscriber-first model?

MC: We are really proud of the work we are doing in this space. The key to it is turning things that used to take weeks, into things that now take days. And for things that took days into things that happen before lunchtime. All this freed up bandwidth allows your team to test, explore and innovate as they’ve never done before.

Additionally, we are contributing to the W3C work to build new, privacy-preserving ad tech and are currently testing some of these options on our site. This is another example of the convergence between our ad tech and martech teams.

LdJ: What are some best practices you’d want to share with other publishers?

MC: It sounds obvious, but you really have to put the work into getting your data at the level of quality you need it to be. It either is or it isn’t and there are no half-measures when it comes to this. When you do it right, you’ll find that things that weren’t possible before become routine. That’s where you want to be.