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Digital shift in audience development

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These days, audience developers have a toe (and usually a whole leg) in just about every facet of a media company. Here are some things that keep evolving:

CHANGING ROLES: As new technologies are uncovered and new audience data become available, the role of the audience developer continues to be redefined.

Kim Clothier, director of audience development at FMA Communications, said audience developers today are much more used to “keeping up with technology and the opportunities it allows,” not just in analyzing data but in distributing content.

Using that technology has involved a major shift for audience developers, said Elissa Tomasetti, VP-marketing and audience development at the Financial Times, citing her own experiences with social media as well as “using contextual techniques such as the "recommended reads' section on FT.com” to gain information about her audience.

BUILDING ONE DATABASE: Publishers are finding new ways to engage audiences and bring in new revenue; building one large relational database that covers every bit of data the company collects from its many distribution points is critical to this goal.

“The need to deliver more with less forces us to utilize every bit of information we have to the fullest extent,” said Gloria Adams, senior VP-audience development and book publishing at PennWell Corp. “We're continually restructuring data so we can get better deep dives into customer profiles, adding new fields and data to build out those profiles to better serve the data up.”

Meanwhile, Tomasetti said the Financial Times has focused on combining demographic and behavioral data. “This helps us determine what [our customers] may wish to subsequently consume,” she said. “This data helps us better serve both our readers and our advertisers.”

DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION: With the cost of printing and distribution consistently rising, many publishers are pushing digital versions of their titles, said Jo Ann Binz, circulation-audience development manager at Quality Circulation Services.

The Financial Times has grown on the digital side. Its paid digital subscribers reached 206,892 on Jan. FT.com now has more than 3 million subscribers, Tomasetti said.

She added that the publisher's iPad app has more than 480,000 downloads and drives 10% of new digital subscriptions to the Financial Times. “Mobile readers are particularly engaged,” Tomasetti said. “FT.com users who register on mobile devices are 2.5 times more likely to subscribe and are more active in giving feedback,” she said.

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