Audience Intelligence, Digital Data & Identity, Trust and Privacy
From Tom Thomas & Terry Clifford
Over the last few weeks SRG has focused on understanding and connecting with public media's digital audiences through several perspectives, a bit like looking at the same image through a set of lenses with very different focal lengths. In this update we report on:
- Audience Intelligence – next steps in the hands-on work of building audience analytics capacity at stations.
- Digital Data Summit – a meeting to promote greater awareness of digital data efforts across public media and encourage cooperation among them.
- Identity, Trust, and Privacy – an emerging conversation about new approaches to digital credentials for journalism organizations and others through which users have greater control of their own information.
At the end of March, SRG and Southern California Public Radio submitted a draft proposal to CPB that carries forward work to advance the use of digital audience data by local public media organizations. We are having continuing conversations with CPB executives to refine the draft, fleshing out details and aiming for the right relationship between our work and the CPB-led Digital Infrastructure Group (DIG).
Our proposal asserts that a fully realized public media digital infrastructure requires success across multiple "lanes" of work:
Centralized and collaborative investments in complex, high-cost elements – technologies, systems, software, and the personnel to develop and manage them to the benefit of public media at a scale that is beyond the resources of most any public media organization acting alone.
Distributed capacity-building at the local/regional level where growing amounts of public media content are being created and where most audiences engage and contribute financial support.
The work for which we are seeking support – Audience Intelligence Phase 2 – focuses on the second of these two themes and has three main elements:
Digital Data Summit
- "Hands on" work centered on digital audience analytics systems scaled to individual public media organizations that create significant daily content. We will build on and extend the work and accomplishments of Audience Intelligence Phase 1 and address challenges we identified with respect to storing, managing, integrating, and leveraging stations' digital audience data. The approach will be "case study" work at a small number of stations.
- We will surround the case study effort with a larger group of some 20 local and national project partners who will be kept abreast of design and implementation work by the case study team, provide a venue for dissemination of plans and activities from CPB's Digital Infrastructure Group (DIG), and serve as a leadership forum for overall digital infrastructure discussions.
- Drawing on the experiences of the case study group and the larger circle of partners, we will develop case language that can be used to seek major donor, philanthropic, and tax-based investments in public media's digital infrastructure.
In early April, SRG participated in a "data summit" convened by the Public Television Major Market Group (PTMMG). The meeting, which was scheduled adjacent to PBS's annual TechCon, included about a dozen station leaders – including SRG members WGBH, KQED, and Rocky Mountain PBS – and representatives from CPB, PBS, NPR, and Public Media Future Forums. The gathering provided an opportunity to learn about several projects focused on data about public media's digital audiences.
We also heard the latest plans from the DIG initiative, which is currently focused on identity management and achieving a single sign-on protocol across public media. Single sign-on would allow individuals to establish a single "credential" that could be used across multiple devices and multiple public media services and organizations.
The meeting had a first date element, as a number of the participants were meeting each other and many were hearing about some projects for the first time. The spirit was generally collegial and, as PTMMG Executive Director Deanna Mackey put it, "members of this group want to work together and support each other's initiatives for the good of the system," a sentiment with which SRG concurs.
Beyond Public Media – The Larger Conversation about Data, Identity, Trust, and Privacy
Last week provided a different kind of opportunity to expand the conversation. SRG was invited to join some two dozen technologists, journalists, entrepreneurs, and advocates for the protection of personal data and privacy – mostly non-public media folks. This group convened under the auspices of the Information Trust Exchange, a nonprofit that seeks to advance a shared-user network for trust, identity, privacy and information commerce.
In highly-simplified terms, the dialogue circled the question of how to manage digital identity outside the mammoth tracking umbrellas of Facebook and Google in ways that allow individuals to control their own personal data and that inspire trust in journalism and other public service entities. The conversation unfolded against a backdrop that includes the recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica imbroglio and the potentially far-reaching new regime of personal data protection adopted by the European Union that will go into effect May 25 (General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR).
Among the many close-to-home questions inspired by this meeting:
- How do we best protect and carry forward public media's powerful asset of public trust, and what aspects of personal information protection and privacy matter most to our audiences?
- Is public media's natural cohort in the territory of digital data, identity management, and personal information more aligned with other journalism and media companies, including newspapers and commercial broadcasters, or with other nonprofit public service organizations, such as credit unions and public libraries?
- How would potentially dramatic changes in the broader digital media environment – e.g. the end of "cookies" within one to two years, the collapse of low-value, fraud-plagued, programmatic digital ad buys, major browsers implementing do-not-track default settings – affect our public media enterprises?
We are thinking about how we can best bring these and other conversations, both the near term projects and the longer-term vision that anticipates profound change, to the full SRG membership.
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