If data were easy, everyone would be using it

According to Adobe, 87% of marketers admit that data is their organization’s most under-utilized asset. 

Today’s publishers are grappling with new challenges as a result of Open Access, the increasing expectations of personalization online, the need to diversify revenue, and struggles with author and reviewer recruitment. 

All of these challenges can be solved by data; but few organizations have the infrastructure or tools in place to harness it. 

In Hum’s latest whitepaper - Turning Your Disparate Data into Gold - we’re breaking down what data you should or shouldn’t be collecting; what the different technology solutions do (and don’t do); and how scholarly and professional publishers can leverage those tools to spin your data into solid gold.

Foundations of Customer Data - understanding customer data

Data Sources

“_______ Party Data” indicates the source of your data. Third-party data is the least reliable source, and is on the decline. Zero- and first-party data is on the rise. 

  • Zero Party: Given to you by the person it relates to
  • First Party: You observe it on your own properties
  • Second Party: Provided by a trusted third party, such as another publisher in a similar field
  • Third Party: Bought or rented data collected by a third party. 

Learn more about data sources >

Types of Data

  • Identity data: Key identifiers like name as well as contact information like address, phone number, employer, job title.
  • Demographic data: Facts like age, income, education, seniority, gender, and marital status. 
  • Financial or Transactional data: What an individual has bought. 
  • Behavioral data: Data created when users interact with your content, products, and services.


In publishing, there are four basic types of information. 

  • People: Customer profiles are a combination of identity, demographic, financial, and behavioral data about individuals.
  • Content: content profiles are about individual pieces of content, such as a journal article, book chapter, landing page, webinar video, or blog post. Content profiles have relevant content metadata, but also engagement data, including things like “deep reads” and “pdf downloads.”
  • Topic: these are what  your content is about. Topic profiles contain mostly engagement data - how is engagement with this topic trending over time, who is it driving engagement with, and in which content does it appear?
  • Organization: people are connected to organizations/institutions. If you connect people to an organization, you can roll people, content, and topic data up to derive an organizational view. 

As you continue to collect data about a specific thing, this data can be collected in your CDP to build profiles. There are three types of profiles: 

  • Anonymous: An unrecognized user. While waiting to identify that person (sometimes this can take a year or more!), the profile will learn about his or her interests and preferences.
  • Known: A recognized user. Their information is contained in a CRM, marketing automation system, or event registration platform. These profiles have mainly identity, contact, demographic, and financial data.
  • Connected: Anonymous + Known = Connected

This means that you have a profile tied into a user’s browser (anonymous) AND that you know who they are (known).

Customer Data Platforms - tools to make data useful

“CDPs are the solution to privacy governance. Without being able to see data in one place, how can you possibly govern its use?” ~David Raab (CDP Institute)

Customer Data Platform is defined by the CDP Institute as “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.” 

CDPs are sometimes confused with data lakes, CRMs (customer relationship management software), data warehouses, BI tools, and DMPs (data management platforms.) Download a full copy of the whitepaper to learn more about what CDPs do that these solutions can’t! 

How do CDPs work? 

Customer Data Platforms integrate with your other software platforms. Those integrations continuously feed data back into the CDP from customer interactions, called “events.”

The CDP is constantly receiving, sorting, and processing events. These events are processed according to rules. From one event, you can learn a lot!

For example, if a person interacts with content, a rule might update:

  • Person profile with increased topical interest
  • Person profile with increased engagement score
  • Content profile with view/read/deep read
  • Topic profile with increased engagement
  • Organization profile with topic engagement

Fundamental CDP capabilities:

  • Integrations: A CDP must connect to other software platforms to both (1.) learn from people-content interactions on the connected systems and (2.) push intelligence back to those connected systems.

  • Audience Building and Identification: The core object of a CDP is a profile. When a user interacts with a connected digital property, an anonymous profile is created. Over time, you seek to identify those anonymous profiles.

  • A Single Customer View (aka The Golden Record): A CDP is a fact store for first-party data on all your digital properties. It is the natural place for the “golden record,” a true 360-degree view of every user/reader/audience member, where all data about that person is collected in one place. CDPs are where the best and most “actionable” customer data lives.

  • Segmentation: Because a CDP holds all the data about people in one place, you can create segments in a CDP that you couldn’t create in any other platform.
    Segments power a CDP’s ability to personalize reader experiences, make recommendations, and drive hyper-targeted communications. Once created in your CDP, segments should be available to the rest of your tech stack, and dynamically updated in real-time as people “qualify in” or “drop out.”

  • Personalization: Because CDPs build profiles of every user who interacts with a connected property, they let you offer personalization to everyone, right away – not just those who have signed up for an account. This can be in the form of personalized communications or individual content recommendations. 

Top Publisher Use Cases - how CDPs are helping publishers

  • Author & reviewer recruitment
  • Increase advertising revenue
  • Promote products, events, and membership or subscriptions
  • Enhance content enrichment and tagging
  • Drive content performance and analysis

Ready to see exactly how publishing industry leaders are putting CDPs to work to harness their own data and solve top publisher use cases? 

Get your copy of Hum's latest whitepaper - Turn Your Disparate Data into Solid Gold >>