Data solutions for media engagement in the digital era

Image of Header final


Are Media, originally known in Australia for its magazines, has grown to include websites and online shopping platforms. The company aims to improve audience connection and provide customized experiences through its data transformation. Are Media is now positioned to become a leading provider of content and ecommerce across multiple channels.


Solution Ownership, Software Engineering, Platform Engineering, Data Engineering


Amazon Redshift, AWS Step Functions, AWS Lambda, Amazon S3, AWS Glue, Amazon DynamoDB, Segment, dbt and dbt Cloud

Embracing change in the media landscape

Are Media has been operating a traditional print magazine business for decades, with dozens of iconic publications such as The Australian Women’s Weekly and Home Beautiful in its portfolio.

However, as content consumption platforms multiplied and mobile phones became increasingly intrinsic to everyday life, Are Media needed to follow readers to the digital space and add new lines of business such as ecommerce.

As a result, Are Media has invested heavily in its digital footprint. The brand now runs 18 online sites, including ecommerce shops like and online magazines such as Homes to Love.

Image of Artboard 3 copy

The challenge of siloed data and isolated customer touchpoints

Are Media reaches 7.6 million customers a month (1 in 3 Australians) as people buy magazines at newsstands, follow online recipes, and enter competitions. However, information about these customer touchpoints was fragmented across siloed ecosystems, which meant limited opportunities for personalized data and targeted audience insights.

“Through various acquisitions and different platforms over the years, we had a large pool of customer data across disparate systems,” said Daniel Tisi, technology director at Are Media. “What we lacked was that single view of our customer—who our customer is and how they interact with us.”

For example, it was impossible to see that a customer had bought an item from an online marketplace and had also purchased a subscription from the magazine ecommerce site. As a result, the team at Are Media had difficulty measuring brand loyalty and increasing the lifetime value of a customer.

“If you want to become a leader in the digital space, you need to know and understand your customer. This project is one step toward unifying the customer view.”

— David Reale, Head of Data, Are Media

Increased customer engagement is just the beginning

After completing the first phase of a data transformation with the help of Slalom and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Are Media can now collect and leverage valuable first-party information. Data from seven websites and their associated customer touchpoints is being pulled into a data warehouse and accessed through a customer data platform (CDP).

The marketing team at Are Media identified three use cases for the new data solution that would produce valuable outcomes:

  • Tailored ad content and cross-selling
  • Expanding customer base
  • Optimizing digital marketing spend based on purchase history

These use cases are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Are Media will be able to do with the data warehouse and CDP once all the data is integrated.

Early results are very promising, according to Lou Cankett, head of consumer marketing at Are Media. For their Father’s Day campaign, the marketing team took a subset of hardtofind and magazine shop data and developed a promotional quiz called “Who’s your daddy?” for a small group of around 5,000 customers.

Of the 852 customers who answered the quiz, 39% completed an order, and 67% of those were first-time buyers. The clickthrough rate (CTR) on the promotional email was 49%, compared to the average CTR of 36%, demonstrating that improved audience targeting generates better engagement.

“The test-and-learn framework lets us merge campaign events with transactional data to find out which customers made purchases. We could deliver a consistent message across email, search, and social, and created personalized messaging based on specific customer actions and responses,” said Cankett.

Image of Artboard 4 copy

“Slalom as a vendor is not focused just on revenue. If anything, we’ve probably extracted more value from working with Slalom than what we pay. We see it as a partnership more so than a typical project engagement.”

— David Reale, Head of Data, Are Media

Architected for future value

Are Media regards the project as a successful milestone in an ongoing three-way partnership. AWS provided support with subject matter experts and funding, got involved in architectural workshops, and helped introduce Slalom to the initiative.

Slalom designed and implemented the infrastructure, which includes the data warehouse built on Amazon Redshift using several additional AWS services, as well as the CDP, which uses Segment. It was critical to set up an architecture that allowed two separate technologies to harmonize and work well together. The data warehouse is enriching the CDP, and the CDP is enriching the data warehouse with the relevant information.

“We had an awesome team at Slalom, both in delivering as well as architecting the whole solution. We’re lucky to have the right resources on this project, to be able to come up with the right solution.”

— David Reale, Head of Data, Are Media

Image of Artboard 2 copy

A strong data foundation enables innovation

As Are Media continues to grow and increase readership (audiences), collecting and processing customer data is part of its maturity model. While the company’s data transformation has already enhanced its digital capabilities, as evidenced by the success of targeted campaigns like the Father’s Day promotion, Are Media expects to realize even more value when data from all the sites is integrated into the new system.

“In my view, it’s been one of the most successful implementations we’ve ever done on a very, very cost-efficient budget. And it has really set us up for the future as we move forward,” said Tisi.

This advancement not only improves the customer experience but also situates Are Media more competitively in the evolving media landscape. With this robust data infrastructure, the company is well-prepared for future growth and innovation, ensuring continued leadership in content and digital engagement.

Next Up

Mint Payments: Saving time and resources after a swift move to AWS Cloud with an assist from Slalom.