Finnish media gearing up for world-class success

Today’s media outlets' understanding of their consumers goes beyond business models and company KPIs. However, behind the scenes, traditional media houses are in flux. A new appetite for collaboration and a rise in tech savviness means that exciting new ventures are in the pipeline. So far, they are only known to the inner circles.

It is not unheard of for jealousies to arise in the media sector – not just between rival outlets but also between different in-house brands. This is one of the factors that has led media brands to shy away from collaboration in the past, even though collaboration might have been a good idea from the consumer’s perspective.

Traditionally, digital media relied on overly simplistic categorizations to inform their output. These days, however, this strategy is considered too unwieldy, and major changes have taken place.

Aller Media’s Idealista is a charming example of a media that provides a unique experience for all visitors. The site succeeds in delivering a highly pleasant reading experience to visitors, thanks to the personalized approach to displaying content, which also means that plenty of additional relevant content is also easily accessible.

Visitors can be treated to a personalized media experience with relevant, interesting content.

Idealista is a modern media brand that brings together content from a number of sources in real time in a personalized portal. It means that visitors can be treated to a bespoke media experience with relevant, interesting content. Idealista is an excellent, bold example of a a brand-independent media that strives to continually improve the service it provides to consumers.

Developed for consumers, driven by data

Today’s digital natives expect accessible, comprehensive content. To ensure quality and credibility, media houses need to state the source of the information they publish. This is why newspaper brands continue to matter, even if, in the future, their content will be published on more media independent platforms.

Consumers are seen as individuals who deserve to be treated to a high-quality, personalized media experience.

The demand for comprehensive, media independent information was recognized many years ago. In response, portals and apps sprang up that compiled content into an accessible and readable format.

Otavamedia’s Ampparit is an excellent example of a website that brings together relevant news items from in-house and external media sources and delivers them promptly in a user-friendly format for the reader to enjoy. The Finnish Broadcasting Company’s (YLE) Uutisvahti app, Ampparit’s more advanced “big sister”, allows users to flexibly select the content they are most interested in.

Media sector professionals are keen to develop a better understanding of users. Age and gender are no longer considered the ultimate defining characteristics. Consumers are now seen as individuals who deserve to be treated to a high-quality, personalized media experience.

The era of viewing consumers as a large amorphous mass is over for good. The target audiences of both media and, increasingly, also advertising reflect a more individualistic approach, and a single person can now be included in several segments.

The era of viewing consumers as a large amorphous mass is over for good.

Our media consumption habits are also subject to an unprecedented level of scrutiny, the findings of which feed media product development processes.

Finnish media companies are well-versed in these developments and making use of them – new approaches to media consumption are being developed at a world-class rate. Nevertheless, many smaller outfits may still be in the mistaken belief that cookies are only useful for targeting advertising. This is no longer the case.

Data on media consumption habits can be used to personalize content and to drive product development. The latest technological innovations now allow digital media to reach the broadest possible range of Finns – and a diverse selection of user profiles. For non-media businesses this data represents an opportunity to find out more about the consumers visiting their site as well as their needs and expectations.

The latest technological innovations now allow digital media to reach the broadest possible range of Finns – and a diverse selection of user profiles.

The behavioral information can be used to inform the development of online retail services and to streamline stock management. One solution for unlocking this type of economic benefit is Aller’s Rikastamo, a first-rate example of a bold response to demand from the domestic market that was launched against the backdrop of an industry in flux and represents a complete departure from core media activity.

Data exploitation is a hot topic in Finland. It is a source of great fascination and also raises a number of issues. The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is directly applicable to all data use and related business activities throughout the EU member states. It introduces a strict framework for data handling as well as registers and the storage of personal data.

European data business has become one of the most tightly regulated industries in the world.

Penalties for breaches of the regulation are so severe that all European companies are, in effect, forced to act responsibly. The regulation also applies to non-EU-based businesses operating within the EU.

Since the new legislation was introduced, both the Finnish and European data business has become one of the most tightly regulated industries in the world.

From competitors to collaborators

Finnish media companies have boldly embarked on collaborations with the advertising industry. In a small, and currently tumultuous, market like Finland, bitter rivalries no longer make business sense. In an era that calls for speed and agility, it is not sensible to do all the heavy lifting yourself when pooling your strengths is likely to deliver more solid results.

In a small market like Finland, bitter rivalries no longer make business sense.

An excellent example of this is the MTV3 videoverkosto network, the first ever venture to be launched jointly by a number of competing media companies. Under the network arrangement, video content generated by the participating media houses is published on a shared platform in order to reach the widest possible audience.

The participating media outlets can also use MTV3’s high-quality news output across their own media. Aller’s Suomi24, Finland’s largest online social networking site and my employer, has grasped this opportunity. What it means in practice is that users participating in Suomi24’s sports and exercise-themed discussion threads can also view all the hottest sports clips from MTV3.

The leading Finnish media companies co-founded the MTV Videoverkosto network in February 2016. Source: mtv.fi/spotti

Finland’s media have taken a great leap forward towards shared content and are unlikely to balk at other unconventional approaches in their product development. We will probably see more collaborative ventures of this kind going forward. Old-fashioned notions of how the media sector operates are on their way out, and with good reason. The media sector is in flux and there is no going back.

Former enemies have become frenemies. Outfits that traditionally would have viewed one another as competitors now work together with considerable success, right across the media. A number of collaborative projects are currently underway across all key media in Finland.

Media have taken a great leap forward towards shared content and are unlikely to balk at other unconventional approaches in their product development.

These days, to get results, you need to have an inventive, fearless approach, plenty of of tech and ethical savvy, and the knowledge of how to go about generating a competitive advantage for home-grown businesses internationally using behavioral data. You can’t thrive on a sinking ship, after all.

Finnish calm paired with world-class pace

In his recent article, Johannes Puro questioned the commercial credibility of Finnish media outlets, contrasting them with tech giants such as Google and Facebook. As a Finnish media sector insider, I am well placed to tell you that the reality is rather different. Finnish media houses are smart and well aware of what is going on.

However, old traditions die hard and it is not realistic to expect that change will happen in the blink of an eye. Obviously, no one is keen to discuss their product development processes with third parties until the new business venture is complete. This is a simple fact, well known to all sector professionals.

Enemies have become frenemies. Outfits that traditionally would have viewed one another as competitors now work together with considerable success, right across the media.

To effect real, far-reaching change takes time and it makes sense for us in the Nordics to wait for demand from buyers to align with global trends. In Finland, we are world leaders in programmatic ad buying and extracting commercial benefits from our data resources. The future is already here. The next big announcements will determine the shape of the Finnish media and data market.

Globally speaking, our utilization rate still lags behind, which may be a sign that our markets take more time to mature than those in larger, more dynamic economies. The people who have spent many years at the helm of our media sector know the Finnish people and our markets. They also know that it makes little sense to make big moves until the market is ready.

In Finland, we are world leaders in programmatic ad buying and extracting commercial benefits from our data resources. The future is already here.

Our leading position means that we are able to deliver unique, culturally significant innovations, the impact of which will be felt across Finland. For example, there is currently a mere handful of ventures similar to Aller’s Rikastamo data concept anywhere in the world. Many international businesses have noticed our innovative ability to shape the market with data.

The winds of change are also blowing right through the marketing world. Even media buying is not what it once was. In his Wau.fi contribution, Petrus Pennanen from Leiki noted that advertisers are no longer choosing a single media outlet, and so much the better. For example, Aller’s data has been available to competing media outlets for over 18 months. For advertisers, data enrichment is an unbeatable additional tool for reaching out to the key target groups.

Aller’s data has been available to competing media outlets for over 18 months.

Finnish media companies are also increasingly collaborating on media advertising. Examples of this phenomenon include the MTV3 video network that allows a number of providers to benefit from each other’s traffic volumes and Aller’s Rikastamo (View video), which combines the latest high-quality data from a number of different sources and can be used across a number of different media that traditionally would have been viewed as competitors.

Many international businesses have noticed our innovative ability to shape the market with data.

The data capital and data capability driving the growth and development of several businesses offered by Aller’s Rikastamo is unique in Finland and was recently adopted by Google’s programmatig buying tool . Rikastamo’s comprehensive data offers stiff competition to other international service providers. The behavioral data offered by Pennanen’s Leiki is one of the data enrichment features used by Rikastamo to monitor online behavior.

However, in true 21st century fashion, online behavior monitoring in itself is not sufficient to deliver truly state-of-the-art data refinement. What is needed is a hybrid package. Rikastamo’s other data enrichment features include the Kotimaa company’s broad-ranging Human360 segments, as well as Aller Media’s three-million-strong customer database and a number of national registers.

There is currently a mere handful of ventures similar to Aller’s Rikastamo data concept anywhere in the world.

A close look at product marketing and communications in Finland, reveals a much more complex network of collaborations than might at first meet the eye. When it comes to Finnish media outlets, the writing is certainly nowhere near the wall.

We are living in exciting times. Many world class success stories are being kept under wraps by Finnish media companies – for now. What will be the next Finnish innovation or service to hit the big time?

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