Case Study: Meredith Corporation

Switchboard Delivers Real-time Access to Data
that Drives Meredith Corporation’s Digital Revenue.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • One source of truth for digital revenue reporting across over 40 individual brands;
  • Consolidated yield insights from a diverse set of inventory platforms and ad types;
  • Ability to notice trends and instantly drill down into specifics with pinpoint accuracy;
  • Streamlined and agile data onboarding amid the flux of a large SSP ecosystem;
  • Ability for line-of-business analysts to own and drive the entire revenue data lifecycle;
  • A long-term foundation to accelerate complex data science projects (saving an estimated six months of development and data preparation - approximately 5,000 engineering hours - per project).

MEREDITH'S CHALLENGE

Like many large and complex media organizations, Meredith wanted to unlock real-time advertising revenue insights across its digital brands. However, historically Meredith had been unable to unify and standardize the constant stream of revenue, inventory and delivery data coming from hundreds of disparate data sources.

Meredith’s digital team tracked digital advertising revenue from a range of manual reports. Originally created in Excel, these reports were both labor intensive and prone to human error. In addition, reports were often delayed as data feeds were updated, causing “reactionary insights” (e.g., why did daily digital revenue disappoint, a month after the fact).

Meredith realized that in order to leverage its massive scale to grow revenue profitably — in other words, be an agile, data-driven digital company — it needed one source of truth for all of its advertising-related data. The complexity and size of the data had stymied a well-known software solution in a previous attempt to automate. Creating a single data ecosystem to drive real-time business decisions, especially in the midst of steady growth, seemed like a pipe dream.

SWITCHBOARD, MEREDITH'S OUTSOURCED DATA SOLUTION

With its laser focus on growing the business, Meredith’s digital team did not have the internal wherewithal to build a complex reporting infrastructure just to standardize digital advertising revenue insights across brands. Nor did they want to take on the high cost, long timelines and significant risk of building their own data engineering group. Consequently, Meredith selected Switchboard as its data operations platform to standardize operations and aggregate its large volumes of advertising-related data.

“We chose Switchboard because of its Google Big Data expertise, its huge capacity to ingest, and flexibility to process critical data. It’s clear that reliability, robustness and scale are squarely within Switchboard’s core competencies,” Rich Zeroth, Executive Director Programmatic & Indirect Monetization at Meredith Corporation.

With Switchboard’s hosted enterprise SaaS solution, Meredith was able to integrate its critical digital advertising data sources within days of implementation. The majority of external data sources, many of which required complex custom business logic, were onboarded in a matter of weeks. Over time, Meredith’s revenue team added feeds from order management systems and custom ad servers. Ultimately, the deployment of Switchboard’s solution provided coverage for the entire ecosystem of business critical systems, involving a footprint of hundreds of data sources.

Switchboard also enabled new economies of scale. No additional staffing was required on Meredith’s part to manage its large volumes of advertising data. Switchboard’s patented data operations technology enabled Meredith’s digital analysts to proactively onboard new datasets on their own, with Switchboard’s data experts assisting with best practices and building organizational know-how. When Meredith acquired Time Inc., a company consisting of 25 sizeable digital properties, Meredith was able to merge Time Inc.’s data (which nearly doubled data volume) with “the flip of a switch

RESULTS - A SINGLE SOURCE OF TRUTH

Since standardizing on Switchboard’s solution, Meredith has simplified and accelerated the most complex and error-prone parts of its data analysis lifecycle. Through automation, Meredith has been able to dramatically reduce the number of man hours required to deliver real-time interactive reporting, while scaling up data ingestions to over half a terabyte of data per day.

Switchboard’s platform has enabled Meredith to deliver a single, interactive reporting suite that puts revenue insights directly into the hands of business teams, while continuously providing executives with an up-to-date view of the entire digital business.

  • Track daily digital revenue by property, monetization partner, direct versus programmatic, sales rep, advertiser, and more;
  • Understand programmatic contributions by demand partner over time;
  • Monitor advertiser spend across direct and programmatic travels.

Meredith executives access this consolidated reporting suite to understand changes to digital revenue on a daily basis:

  • Which audiences command the highest eCPMs, and in which geographies?
  • How do changes to site design affect revenue?
  • Which advertiser accounts are driving the most revenue activity, and in which channels?

A DATA DRIVEN FUTURE

Meredith has accelerated its data journey, and is consolidating all of its ad revenue data, digital and print, across all of its brands. And now with the availability of granular event-level data, Meredith’s digital team can dive into even deeper insights. For example, the digital team is now in a position to marry monetization and content engagement data at the URL level. This will enable granular measurement of revenue per pageview, per user.

Advertising customers also benefit from Meredith’s real-time insights. For example, by providing programmatic bidding transparency to its highest profile advertisers, Meredith media teams will be able to help them devise winning bid strategies.

Finally, Meredith has put itself on an accelerated data maturity curve. Instead of staffing up engineering to build data infrastructure, business teams leverage Switchboard’s technology platform, putting the power to onboard, transform and govern advertising data directly into the hands of non-technical data analysts. These business teams have been able to focus fully on intimately understanding their revenue data and putting those insights to use within the business.

“Meredith is redefining what it means to be a media company, and by working with Switchboard, we’re finally able to have a single, real-time and actionable view of revenue and yield across all of our brands,” said Matt Minoff, Chief Digital Officer for Meredith. “Switchboard’s solution is turnkey and flexible. It allowed us to harness our scale and drive content monetization while keeping personnel overhead low.”

ABOUT MEREDITH CORPORATION AND SWITCHBOARD

Meredith Corporation (NYSE:MDP) has been committed to service journalism for more than 115 years. Today, Meredith uses multiple distribution platforms—including broadcast television, print, digital, mobile and video—to provide consumers with content they desire and to deliver the messages of its advertising and marketing partners. Meredith's National Media Group reaches 175 million unduplicated American consumers every month, including 80 percent of U.S. Millennial women. Meredith's Local Media Group includes 17 television stations reaching more than 11 percent of U.S. households.

From the team that launched Google’s BigQuery Platform, Switchboard provides domain expertise and an Enterprise SaaS solution to data-intensive companies looking to implement a robust DataOps platform. Founded in 2014, Switchboard’s software automatically extracts, scrubs and normalizes data, bringing immediate usability to granular data. Switchboard is the leading DataOps software for the largest content providers, including Meredith Corporation, The Financial Times, Univision, and VICE Media. Be Data Strong - optimize and monetize data with 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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