PCH: Media Companies Should Align Analytics Strategies with Their Business Strategies

Data has the power to be a major catalyst for a company, offering it the ability to better understand customer insights, but if the analytics are not in alignment with what the organization’s business goals are, the information ends up being counterproductive, according to Ash Dhupar, chief analytics officer at Publishers Clearing House (PCH).

“Analytics, I would say, [are] the foundation for unlocking opportunities at PCH and our mission is to drive either insights or algorithms that [are] going to make a measurable impact” at the company, he said July 25 during a keynote session called “Aligning Analytics Strategy with Business Strategy for Success” at the Smart Content Summit East event, part of the Media & Entertainment (M&E) Day at the Microsoft Conference Center.

These efforts provide multiple benefits for an organization because improved data quality yields richer customer insights (better customer engagement and retention), clear priorities (better marketing return on investment), and a clear picture of cause and effect across all departments, according to Dhupar. By aligning a solid data and analytics strategy with the business goals and objectives of a company, that organization can better discover new revenue opportunities and generate efficiencies to increase its bottom line.

PCH is, of course, best-known for its sweepstakes and it’s given away more than $400 million in prizes to date, Dhupar noted at the start of the keynote. But the company is also a top five publisher in the entertainment space and gets about 2 billion page views a month and it sends about 4 billion emails each year, he pointed out to attendees. The company surveys its approximately 1 million customers regularly and remains a large direct mail company, sending about 200 million pieces of mail each year, he said, joking it’s “keeping USPS in business.”

Customers spend about 8 minutes each at its website, he also said, noting that provides it with a lot of data in the process. About 4 million customers are also highly engaged with PCH on Facebook, he said.

It’s important to take all that data and use it to gain “actionable insight” and “make an impact” with it, he said. PCH, meanwhile, is “exploring new product opportunities” and trying to figure out how to gain new operating efficiencies with the use of all that data, he told attendees.

One recent goal was to figure out how to increase the conversion rate of first-time mobile customers, he said, noting customers now expect a company like PCH to provide them with an increased amount of personalized recommendations and other services based on all the data being collected.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an effective tool in all this that “definitely helps us identify certain patterns” easier, he said.

From two people, his team at PCH has grown to about 40 people in five years, he told attendees, noting it’s divided into three groups: One an algorithm and sciences team that builds all the models, one an insights team that looks for all the patterns and is “where this all starts,” and the third a business intelligence.

The success that PCH has found with this initiative, however, didn’t come cheap. It took a significant investment of about $10 million about 3-4 years ago, Dhupar said.

He wrapped up the session with a Q&A, providing attendees with more advice on how to create successful analytics teams at their own organizations. For example, he suggested that those starting out try to show value via 1-2 projects in the first six months or so.

The 2019 M&E Day, which also included Content Protection Summit East conference tracks, was produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), in association with the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), the Hollywood IT Society (HITS) and the Smart Content Council, and was presented by Microsoft, with sponsorship by Akamai, BTI Studios, Independent Security Evaluators, LiveTiles, MarkLogic, RSG Media, ThinkAnalytics, Amazon Web Services, the Entertainment ID Registry (EIDR), the Trusted Partner Network (TPN) and Richey May Technology Solutions.