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How Mittelbayerische Zeitung doubled its subscriber numbers with Snowplow

The local news provider is increasing reader engagement, boosting subscriptions and more—with a one-person data team and Snowplow. 

Digital masthead on a laptop screen

Background

Mittelbayerische Zeitung is one of the leading local news providers in Bavaria, Germany. Founded in 1945, they still print and distribute over 90,000 copies daily through 13 local editions. Yet, with huge changes to the media industry in recent years, the company recognised the need to modernize their operations and focus on digital channels. 

To do this, Mittelbayerische Zeitung needed high-quality, highly-structured behavioral data delivered in real time. 

Constrained by the limitations of packaged analytics solutions, they turned to Snowplow. By integrating Snowplow’s Behavioral Data Platform (BDP) into their data stack, they have powered multiple use cases and propelled their business forward. 

Challenges

For the past two decades, readers have been progressively ditching printed papers for smartphones, tablets, and laptops. While this transition to digital is hardly surprising, the pace of change is. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center, for example, found that circulation of weekday papers in the US fell by 19% between 2019-2020. 

In order to survive, many media companies have turned their attention to increasing online subscribers and digital ads. Mittelbayerische Zeitung is no different. They sought to modernize operations and drive revenue through their website, shifting to a freemium model. The problem? A lack of high-quality, granular behavioral data. 

Mittelbayerische Zeitung’s data team was struggling to deliver valuable insights from its packaged analytics tool, the free version of Google Analytics (GA). Because GA imposed an arbitrary opinion on the data collected through the site, they couldn’t power organization-specific use cases, and they lost detail which would have helped boost conversions. 

On top of this, GA couldn’t deliver the data fast enough. Insights weren’t available for hours at a time, meaning that editorial changes aimed at increasing reader engagement couldn’t be made in the moment. Ultimately, they risked losing the attention of the audience and associated revenue. 

With GA, you didn’t know when you’d get your data – it could be 3 or 5 hours. You just didn’t know. Even with 360, you didn’t have everything in minutes.” 

ANDREAS WÖHRL | DATA TEAM LEAD AT MITTELBAYERISCHE ZEITUNG

Solution

Initially, Mittelbayerische Zeitung considered GA 360 (the paid version of GA) to address its data challenges. Yet, although GA 360 offered greater flexibility than the free version, it still didn’t meet the needs of the data team. 

A more flexible, transparent solution came in the form of Snowplow. Andreas Wöhrl, Mittelbayerische Zeitung’s lead Data Team Lead, first tested it out by setting up a trial pipeline with Snowplow Open Source. It quickly proved its worth.

With Snowplow, Mittelbayerische Zeitung could finally collect the behavioral data it needed to drive forward its new freemium business model. The flexibility of Snowplow’s JSON schema meant that Andreas could track whatever he needed, and change his tracking strategy according to business or product needs while maintaining careful version control. 

The fact that Snowplow delivers behavioral data in near real time was also a significant benefit, as was the complete ownership of the pipeline, which helps maintain GDPR compliance. 

Following this successful trial, one-person data team Andreas transferred to Snowplow Behavioral Data Platform. By incorporating Snowplow into their data stack, Mittelbayerische Zeitung could finally gain a granular view of their readers and power specific use cases to grow revenue. 

Results

Since implementing Snowplow, behavioral data has become embedded in Mittelbayerische Zeitung’s operations. The editorial team, for example, can amend articles online in response to live reader metrics—changing everything from an article’s position on a page to its image and title to boost engagement. 

Data created with Snowplow has also been used to personalize ads, increase their effectiveness, and reach more people. 

At a wider level, Snowplow has helped to foster a more data-centric culture. As well as increasing awareness around what questions behavioral data can help to answer, Snowplow has been instrumental in creating a Universal Data Language. Used across multiple domains, this behavioral data paves the way for better collaboration. Now, different teams (internal and external) can gather around a single source of truth.

As Mittelbayerische Zeitung continues to develop its digital-first strategy, behavioral data from Snowplow will only become more important. 

Everyone knows what granular and good data looks like now … data is a lot closer to everyone in the company.”

ANDREAS WÖHRL | DATA TEAM LEAD AT MITTELBAYERISCHE ZEITUNG

How you can get started with Snowplow

To learn more about how Snowplow can empower your organization with behavioral data creation, book in a chat with our team today. Alternatively, Try Snowplow is our free, easy-to-use version of our technology, which allows you to create your own behavioral data in under 30 mins.

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