Commentary

Hearst's New Programs Include Data Education, Product Sampling

Hearst Magazines, publisher of Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan, unveiled an internal program to help employees analyze data and an external program to help advertisers with product sampling.

The company partnered with the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the state’s public polytechnic university, to educate employees on data analysis. Hearst Data University (HDU) started as a test this month to offer lessons among the company’s divisions, including sales and editorial, Adweek reported.

Mike Smith, who became Hearst Magazines’ first chief data officer in February, oversees the program. HDU is part of a data-centric strategy developed by Troy Young, who became president of Hearst Magazines almost a year ago.

The data courses are currently open to select employees free of charge, and are designed for different levels of expertise. The topics include data fundamentals, data privacy and data visualization, in addition to identifying target audiences.

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Data help to inform editorial decisions at titles like Cosmopolitan, whose editor in chief, Jessica Pels, monitors Instagram usage to help plan photo shoots. The magazine’s formula appears to be paying off for its digital version, with a nearly threefold jump in unique visits to Cosmopolitan.com to 41 million in February from 15 million a year earlier.

The company also created a business unit called Sample Ignition 360 that sends product samples to social media users. Heart Magazines is collaborating with SoPost, a website that specializes in sending free product samples to people in exchange for their email address and shipping information, Mobile Marketing magazine reported.

Hearst will ship products to customers directly instead of giving the leads to advertisers for them to fulfill the request. However, advertisers can contact people who requested samples by email and seek feedback and reviews.

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