digital transformation media industry

How Media And Publishing Companies Can Embrace Data Transparency For Future Success

Web 3.0 offers media companies new opportunities.
Max Leonard
January 30, 2023

Modern audiences increasingly expect to receive a personalized experience when they watch a show or read an article. At the same time, they are also more concerned about sharing personal data online. This situation is both a challenge and an opportunity for media and publishing companies. 


The evolution of audience data privacy expectations is being driven by new regulations that are changing the way corporations think about customer data management: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Governance Act in Europe have made companies reevaluate their data collection and management practices. Subsequently, other governments have followed suit with their own regulations, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). 

It’s hard to think of another industry sector that is impacted as significantly by these market changes as media and publishing. Many companies need to appeal to brands to be successful, and therefore need to deliver detailed customer and engagement data to brands, and use the same data to provide customized experiences to audiences. 

That’s why Web 3.0 trends are so potentially game-changing for media and publishing companies: Organizations that adopt Web 3.0 practices quickly and successfully will not just be accommodating new legal requirements, but will also be able to differentiate from the pack. Unlocking new data insights as a result of these modernization efforts will result in closer proximity to the customer, and more opportunities to deliver unique experiences, drive engagement, and in turn, drive sales to brands.

Emergence of Web 3.0

So what exactly is Web 3.0? (Spoiler alert: It’s not blockchain.) The term refers to the next phase in the evolution of the web which shifts the relationship between organizations, services, people and data. Emerging technologies like Solid make this possible by providing a standardized way of separating applications from the data stores they use and empowering individuals to choose whom they share data with, and for what purpose. Solid allows users to view and manage their own data through Pods (personal online datastores) and facilitates interoperable data to be used across myriad applications and services, opening up huge potential for innovation.

Angling To Deliver Superior Audience Experiences

By reusing data across apps or even across organizational boundaries, media companies can create a more complete view of their audiences and provide a better reading, watching, and listening experience. 

Organizations—especially in Europe—are racing to test approaches that use Web 3.0 fundamentals. In 2021, the BBC created the My PDS project, which pulled in data from Spotify, Netflix, and the BBC to a user’s Pod and used that data to provide superior content recommendations as compared to what was possible with siloed BBC data. The incredible potential of this approach was recognized by a ‘Best Technical Paper’ award at the International Broadcasting Conference in 2021.

Similarly, VRT—the Flemish public broadcaster—has used the Solid platform to pull in Spotify and social media data to provide audiences with better content recommendations. 

Expanding beyond testing initiatives, distributed data management tactics are evident in projects like BBC Together + Data Pod, where the BBC created a social TV product that stores users’ data in their own Solid Pods, enabling them view, edit, and share their data as they see fit. 

And smaller media organizations are embarking on innovative paths to work to compete more effectively against both deep-pocketed direct competitors and tech giants. A group of leading media companies in the Netherlands are working on a joint data ecosystem where users control their data via personal data safes, allowing for sharing among media organizations in the ecosystem. 

Pushing Forward Is The Way

Coming in the wake of blockchain and the current environment for cryptocurrencies—an unfavorable climate, if ever there was one—Web 3.0 will encounter its fair share of naysayers. But whether in response to aggressive new regulatory requirements, or in pursuit of ways to fight back against the Facebook/Google duopoly, media companies are more likely to embrace Web 3.0 trends than to try to stymie them. Adopting privacy-focused customer data management strategies sooner rather than later will help media companies lay the groundwork to thrive in a not-so-distant future where data transparency is equally valued by both consumers and regulators alike. 

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