Financial Times Leverages Data to Drive Product Success

Data Operations platform efficiency accelerates strategic
transformation into a marketing intelligence platform, reaching select
audiences in the right place at the right time.

Higher programmatic ROI, accelerated R&D cycles, and lower fraud rates powered by better, faster data from Switchboard.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Stood up sell-through forecast in one week, CPH ops solution in three weeks
  • Delivered to customers a 3x increase in reporting frequency, and a 5x increase in granularity, in 80% less time compared with basic manual reporting, with no additional staffing
  • Rolled out real-time forecasting available to all yield, planning, and ops teams, eliminating a manual bottleneck of four-person days per forecast
  • Large-scale data automation and governance was delivered via hosted platform, requiring no additional developer investment

INTRODUCTION

The Financial Times is one of the world's leading sources of news and information, with a reputation for precision and transparency. The FT's Digital Commercial Team delivers targeting solutions and market intelligence to brand customers through innovative new ad products, such as their award-winning Cost Per Hour (CPH) offering, alongside in-depth, granular reporting and analysis. Underpinning this is intelligent yield management, allowing the FT to understand the impact of pricing and packaging strategies, and powering effective management decision making. This enables the FT to deliver to advertisers a new level of quality in the form of increased audience attention, while maximizing opportunity via highly granular and accurate forward, sell-through intelligence.

CHALLENGE

But this almost didn't happen. Scaling up the insights needed to drive revenue seemed at first to be an insoluble data challenge. On the ops side, measuring CPH performance required ops teams to manually piece together large amounts of raw, real-time data coming from disparate sources. On the planning side, a site-wide inventory forecast meant running almost 1,500 manual queries in the DFP UI, and manually merging the results into spreadsheets. Each forecast required three- or four-person days to create. And as soon as a forecast was produced, it was out of date. For both teams, there was an acute need for support in using data to drive decisions at scale, especially as development resources and domain knowledge in the business were scarce. The FT faced a dilemma where scaling up a promising growth strategy would require an unsustainable linear increase in expertise and resources.

SOLUTION

FT selected Switchboard's hosted Data Operations platform to automate critical commercial and operational data insights. In less than three weeks, this decision enabled the FT to launch a CPH performance monitoring system, with user-friendly dashboards, powered by impression-level viewability data merged with real-time delivery data. A working beta of the sell-through component was rolled out to ops teams in one week.

This was possible because FT teams used Switchboard to automate many complex steps, from aggregating and cleaning raw media data, to applying numerous business rules and joins, to merging the streams into a unified data warehouse. Switchboard's Data Operations platform provided end-to-end process automation and data governance monitoring, meaning no additional developer staffing was required to build and maintain expensive infrastructure. FT's global teams were thus freed up to focus on campaign performance, with insights delivered via web-hosted dashboards.

These steps eliminated 80% of the time required for manual CPH performance reporting. FT delivered a 3x increase in reporting frequency to customers, with a 5x increase in granularity, with no additional staffing. On the yield front, eliminating the four-person day manual forecasting bottleneck enabled real-time forecasting to be rolled out to all teams.

RESULTS

Using Switchboard's solution, the FT ensured the on-time launch of a major product initiative and saved the business an estimated 6–9 months of risky custom development. In parallel, Switchboard also enabled the FT to optimize yield and campaign performance with no staffing increase. Finally, by leveraging a battle-proven and real-time Data Operations platform, the FT now has a scalable data maturity model, upon which they are able to significantly iterate and improve for the long term.

ABOUT SWITCHBOARD

Switchboard's data operations platform eliminates the need to invest in massive infrastructure by delivering real-time visibility and operational maturity on top of the latest data management technologies.

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