ONE-MINUTE BRIEFS: MEDIA - Newspapers seek CRM gold in data

The newspaper price wars of the 1990s may be just a distant memory,

but Fleet Street's finest are set to do battle on another, less

adversarial, front.

The battle lines this time are drawn around databases. News

International, proprietor of The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and

News of the World, has appointed CRM consultancy Cole & Burey to create

new revenue streams off a single database for the media owner.

The NI move coincides with the Financial Times hiring its first head of

CRM, Dil Patel, signalling its seriousness about taking a single

customer view across a brand portfolio that includes the FT, FT

Business, and FT Conferences.

What the two developments have in common is a desire to leverage the

considerable brand equity in products like The Times and the FT to

create extra revenue via cross selling, adding value to ad sales and new


As Paul Hayes, The Times' general manager, explains: "We have come to

recognise the fundamental importance of consumer data within any media

group's strategy, but are unimpressed by CRM unless it delivers bottom

line enhancement."

Where the NI and FT moves differ is the extent to which either media

group is prepared to take CRM beyond the core proposition of selling


The trailblazer in media CRM was the Telegraph Group, NI's arch rival.

David Cole and Tony Coad, two of C&B's three principals, established and

ran a lifestyle data and affinity marketing business for the group as

its full-time employees. The pair left last March to set up their own

CRM consultancy after strategic differences with Telegraph Group


Now C&B has taken its CRM blueprint to NI. It involves a radical

diversification for the media group, including a new data bureau service

for NI's advertisers, the collection of lifestyle data and the creation

of affinity products through partnerships with service providers such as

insurance companies.

"We'll generate leads beyond existing newspaper products and find

services that the readership wants but that aren't being catered for,"

Hayes says.

The FT says it will not go as far as selling lists but Patel stresses

that the publisher was already practising affinity marketing before his

arrival. He points to FT Mobile, a personalised phone service for FT

readers developed in alliance with Carphone Warehouse. "You can expect

to see more propositions like this, tailored to our reader profile,"

Patel says.

Hayes, another ex-Telegraph manager, believes NI can take CRM further

than the Telegraph Group did. "At the Telegraph we did lifestyle

questionnaires and telemarketing and were able to capture high quality

data. While the likes of Claritas typically get 4% response rates, at

the Telegraph we were getting 20% because people trusted the brand. I'd

argue that the brands at NI are even more iconic."

For its part the Telegraph Group says it remains committed to CRM, but

that it has pulled back from C&B's vision of it. "Our old approach was

to look for quick revenues from list rental as well as prospecting for

new customers for the rest of the business," says Anne Gowan, the

Telegraph Group's director of direct marketing.

Gowan says the group's emphasis is now more internallyfocused, in that

its database efforts are concentrated on boosting reader subscriptions

and broadening the age profile of the Telegraph reader.

But regardless of their different CRM approaches, the players appear to

agree on one thing. "If newspapers have failed to do anything in the

past, it's enter into a dialogue with readers beyond what we do in our

newspapers," Hayes says.