Take ownership of your data: Tips from MediaRadar

MediaRadar Founders
Co-Founders Jesse Keller and Todd Krizelman

Jan. 30, 2013 -- Without a doubt, says MediaRadar co-founder Todd Krizelman, the number one concern he’s heard from marketers regarding publishers is that the sales team hasn’t researched enough before a pitch meeting. To help publishers, Krizelman and Jesse Keller founded MagazineRadar (rebranded MediaRadar this week to better reflect how its tools have surpassed just magazine) in 2006 as a sales and marketing intelligence data house that tracks more than a million brands and its behaviors.

MediaRadar offers a variety of tools that help publishers find new business, research potential clients, compare editorial, track social media gains and more.

Each MediaRadar tool has the end goal of providing a solution. But behind each tailored solution, is the currently en vogue, sometimes overwhelming, concept of big data (that is, datasets that could be useful to audiences, but are too voluminous and complex for manual or even simple, traditional data processing). The company analyzes 1.3 million brands, updating information daily, to give insight on 7,000 magazines, websites, newspapers and social media outlets. After compiling and sifting through this massive amount of intelligence, the company gives tailored recommendations to clients, the basis of its business plan and what the company credits as its success.

"We've done a lot of investing in business tools that do the analysis for you,” says Keller. “That's been our philosophy since we've started the company: How can we skip over that part where you get a spreadsheet and had to make sense of it? How do we make sense of it for you and really get you right to the actionable part of the information?"

Many MediaRadar tools feature an advice section. For instance, tools that help sales teams pitch more effectively might advise on how much money a brand is currently spending, what publications the brand is buying into, whether they prefer print or online, whether they prefer rich media or banner ads, if social media is important and more.

Strategies for jumping data hurdles

Many publishers are launching their own data programs, whether for lead generation, targeting or market research, and Krizelman knows first-hand that jumpstarting a data initiative can be intense.

"I remember this process very vividly,” he says. “The first step was clearing a lot of technical hurdles on how we are going to collect so much data. Part one is there's a big continuous investment you're going to have to make in both hardware and in talent to keep looking for insights. We think there is a lot of hype around this concept of big data, and it will clearly not work out for everybody."

Simply put, says Keller, a publisher will not succeed without obtaining the right talent and putting together an entire team. Companies cannot count on the one “research guy” to make a data effort succeed, he says.

"To put it in context, we have a product development group here of 25 people and they do nothing all day but work with the data,” says Keller. “I’m not saying everybody needs to have 25 technical people working on data, but if it's not your core business, if it's not your core competence, it's going to be hard to find that skill set somewhere."

After assembling a team, Keller advises that publishers look at what data they have already, such as product information or industry demographics, and find out how it could be useful to your audience.

"This is an interesting challenge because the skill set needed to do something useful is a mix of domain expertise, technical knowledge and math,” he says. “For us, we're collecting lots of data on advertising and media, so we're constantly looking at way to slice and dice it to try to spot things that are unexpected and that are specifically relevant to individual customers."

And the secret, or at least for MediaRadar, is to boil the data down to digestible nuggets of information. Instead of releasing lengthy reports, provide tailored takeaways, advice and context.

"In our business, we mostly spend our time thinking about how do we extract more insight for publishers,” says Kizelman. “We don't talk about this concept of big data with them ever. We're far more solution-driven. We never want our customers to say to us, ‘Boy, you dumped a lot of data on me.’ This is the problem in the market. There's so much data that people have a major fear of it."

By Elizabeth A. Reid