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How real-time data enables personalization and engagement

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It would not be an overstatement to claim that real-time insight has changed the media industry. Moving from a traditional print environment in which media companies had static subscriber data and did not face cutthroat advertising competition to a completely digital, 24/7 information cycle driven by the onslaught of free content and granular targeting in advertising, it’s an entirely new paradigm. While this digital shift posed many challenges in terms of profitability and business models, some media companies embraced the change and saw the opportunity born of this complex but data-saturated moment.

Getting real: Real-time data driving real-time engagement

The shift to real-time analytics, and the challenges of refashioning infrastructure to handle real-time data, requires a willingness to invest time in building advanced data capabilities and a data-first mindset. This requires building new expertise, investment in different infrastructure and a commitment to putting data at the heart of their companies. With the growing availability of real-time data collection and analytics, media companies in particular saw the potential for real-time data, and those companies that have succeeded in the digital era focus on incorporating real-time data in their marketing, editorial, advertising and engagement strategies, reaping the benefits of its immediacy.

If data can be used to automate the process of responsively serving content, features or messaging to a user, which in turn triggers the user to react with a near-real-time response, these interactions enable a real-time data feedback loop, making for a completely personalized user experience. For both the media company and the user, this is the dream scenario. The media company can proactively optimize and personalize based on the user’s real-time actions, preferences and behaviors. The user, in the process, gets what they want and enjoys an increasingly individualized experience through features, content and messaging recommended to them. This back-and-forth, on-site interaction engenders a dynamic approach to user engagement, experience improvement and subscription conversion.

What a difference the data makes: La Presse

For digital French-language media outlet, La Presse, based in Montreal, Canada, the complete shift to digital took place in 2017. Their digital transformation required real-time insight and granular control over data collection and analysis for developing their new digital properties and in support of long-term growth goals for the all-digital face of La Presse. Many media companies implemented paywalls to tackle their revenue challenges but La Presse, owned by a social trust and entrusted with a mission to deliver free high-quality content and news to everyone regardless of their ability to pay for it, a paywall was not the way forward. To ensure success and continued growth, La Presse needed to:

  • Engage users and drive them down the engagement funnel, as well as prompt them to donate voluntarily to support the content they love
  • Help advertisers target and reach the right audiences for their ads

And what would power both needs? Real-time data and the ability to collect, analyze and optimize it for zero-latency marketing automation and sell-side advertising use cases.

La Presse sought a customizable, self-hosted, real-time analytics solution. They wanted to track more data points, integrate with AWS and customize the data pipeline in real time, all of which led them to Snowplow. With Snowplow, La Presse can ingest internal, external and Snowplow data and drop it into a data lake for wide-open data discovery and real-time use.

This enabled La Presse to build two key components: the customer journey builder and the segment builder, both of which serve the need to make data immediately actionable.


“With Snowplow we are able to track all the events we want and take immediate action. We can identify signs of potential churn and take targeted action to prevent it; we can segment audiences based on engagement, interests, and many other qualifications to make the experience as individual as possible. This helps the sales team, advertisers, marketing and the newsroom to understand our readers and what they want and do as well as to improve content and the overall user experience.” – Hervé Mensah, Director – Data Science & Integration, La Presse


Case study

How La Presse automates, optimizes and personalizes marketing in real time


What La Presse was able to do

Snowplow helped La Presse in two big ways:

  • Delivering marketing automation and insight for targeting and serving both ads and content to very specific audiences at a near-individual level
  • Improving La Presse’s internal core metrics

With the real-time data collection and insights La Presse could leverage, they were able to:

  • Reduce unsubscribe rates
  • Increase email and notification open rates
  • Increase CTRs
  • Boost donations, thanks to ad retargeting and content tailoring made possible by Snowplow
  • Identify signs of user churn and prevent proactively
  • Change segmentation in real time

“Having Snowplow helps the business. For sales, it can be an increase in revenue because of the audience we are able to provide; for marketing, better insight into users and how they can become more engaged.” – Hervé Mensah, Director – Data Science & Integration, La Presse

To learn more about how having Snowplow can help your business and help your advertisers and you reach and engage with your audience, download the La Presse case study.

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