A modular and flexible CDP to support data-driven transformation

About FD Media Group

The FD Media Group is the largest media company in the financial and economic spheres. They provide entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and professionals with information on the most important news from a financial and economic perspective through the brands Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), BNR, FD Persoonlijk, and Company.Info. Its mission is to help decision-makers in the Netherlands reach the best possible decisions by providing overview, insights, and prognoses through journalistic brands and quality products.


The Goal

  • Enhance visibility of customer interaction, accelerated by privacy legislation and browser limitations
  • Customer centricity of the readers to offer subscribers the content that they are looking for
  • Acquisition of subscribers to target the right audiences at the right moment with the right offer
  • Offer advertisers the right audiences, the right contextual positions, and also based on actual interests and demographics
  • Democratizing data to bring relevant insights to the fingertips of the marketing, sales, editorial teams, and senior management to become as informed and as predictive as possible

The Result

A modular, flexible and scalable Customer Data Platform on Google Cloud Platform unifies the functionalities required to support customer-centricity in privacy, safety, and security. The CDP is the technical heart of the data strategy that transforms how FD Media Group as a whole delivers governed data products to the business. Analysts and business users have become more data literate due to training sessions. Crystalloids DevOps monitors the CDP on data quality, data governance, and cost. If you are curious to know more about the ​​Data-Driven transformation at FD Media Group, you can read about it in this interview. 

The Challenge

FD Media Group wanted to become a predictable company for every stakeholder. A data strategy was developed to achieve this goal that combines internal expertise, customer research, and data insights.

The model has to stay transparent, be able to deliver growth and has to generate value. FD Media Group wanted to leverage its first-party data to better target users, become independent from third-party systems, and comply with data privacy regulations.


The Solution

A Customer Data Platform that brings complete control of the data, always using the most recent and high-quality data. 

A single source of truth that can be used for insights and marketing purposes is an essential part of a future-proof data strategy. To realize this, we combined data from multiple relevant sources. At FD Media Group, we focused on the following sources: sales data, marketing interactions, customer consent, web and app interactions, and customer demographics. By combining these sources in a central place, we created a centralized and unified Customer Data Platform (CDP), acting as a single source of truth. 

We introduced persistent server-side logging of events to ensure visibility of ‘need to know’ user behavior in a privacy, safe and secure environment to measure behavior such as article views, logins, and product consumption.

To do all of this in a controlled and efficient way, we focused on setting up strong data governance. Effective data governance ensures that data is consistent, trustworthy, and fully GDPR compliant. When setting up a CDP, we also incorporate the maintainability in our solution so that a support team can quickly take over the monitoring of the solution built. Crystalloids proactively support FD Media Group daily by monitoring the Crystalloids’ DevOps team.

When the single source of truth is in place by creating the CDP, FD could start sharing data for email automation, targeting the website, targeting audiences in paid media platforms, subscription marketing, advertisers, and data visualization.


The Process

At Crystalloids, we work in a structured way to get maximum results in the shortest time.

Preparation phase:

  • Information gathering about the existing architecture and high-level goals.
  • Writing backlog together with the Product Owner, developers, and Commercial Director.
  • Backlog refinement to get all necessary details correct, such as the Definition of Done
  • Backlog prioritization by business importance
  • Estimation of work for the selected user stories
  • Solution architecture

Implementation phase:

  • Implement the solution
  • Demo working software in two sprints of two weeks
  • Handover the code and documentation
  • Review customer satisfaction


The Result

Data lake (raw data storage) in Cloud Storage, CDP in BigQuery, real-time and batch ingestion from multiple sources, centralized audience definitions, integrated with relevant marketing channels (owned & paid media channels), dashboarding for insights. The high-level architecture is shown in the image below.


Google Cloud Platform en Google Marketing Platform products used

  • Cloud Pub/Sub
  • Cloud Dataflow
  • Cloud Storage
  • BigQuery
  • Data Studio
  • App Engine
  • Compute Engine
  • Cloud Endpoints
  • Cloud Functions
  • Cloud Composer
  • Cloud Build
  • GTM Server Container
  • Error reporting, Cloud Logging, and Monitoring
A modular and flexible CDP to support data-driven transformation

“The CDP allows us to stay in control of our first-party data and to get insights and direct value out of our data.”

Jeroen Veldhoen, Director Data & Analytics FD Media Group

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