Hearst Appoints Mike Smith As Chief Data Officer

Hearst Magazines named Mike Smith as its first chief data officer Thursday.

When Smith joined Hearst in 2013, he introduced programmatic to its sites and oversaw programmatic buying.

As chief data officer, Smith will oversee data use in programmatic campaigns, branded content, direct sold campaigns, sales operations and editorial.

“When Troy [Young] became president of the magazine media company last summer, it was important to the leadership team to accelerate the cross-pollination of skills across the organization,” Smith said. He will continue to report to Young.

Making Hearst’s sales and business operations more data-driven, for example, means applying data much differently than Hearst would for a standard programmatic campaign.

Using machine learning, Hearst is analyzing its Salesforce data to learn how it can better allocate resources to serving its advertiser clients. When the publisher wins or loses an RFP, it collects feedback to locate patterns – with quick findings that can be distributed to managers and team members on Slack.

For programmatic, Hearst is thinking about the evolution of audience buying. Platforms like Facebook, Amazon and Google allow marketers to upload customer data and target, but don’t allow marketers to analyze how their audience behaves on those platforms.

Increasingly, Hearst creates audience segments with advertisers, Smith said, which can be activated for direct or programmatic campaigns or branded content. Marketers can share actual customer data or research about who buys their products, and then find out more about those customers’ interests, reading behavior and more across the entire Hearst portfolio.

Hearst takes a privacy-focused approach to data sharing, so any data commingling must pass muster with its legal team and chief privacy officer.

“That business for years was fledgling, and the talk-to-action ratio was in poor alignment,” Smith said. Advertiser data took precedence in a real-time bidding world.  “Now [use of publisher data] is starting to develop at some scale” – which will be nurtured further as Smith takes the helm as chief data officer.

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