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data science @ The New York Times 
and how a 163-year old content company became 
data-driven 
chris.wiggins@columbia.edu ...
1. the path
biology: 1892 vs. 1995 
biology changed for good.
data science: web scale
example: 
163 yr old
example: 
millions of views per hour
data science: the web
data science: the web 
is your “online presence”
data science: the web 
is a microscope
data science: the web 
is an experimental tool
data science: the web 
is an optimization tool
1. the path
data science: 
- people, 
- process, 
- technology
2. data science: process
“data”:
“data”: 
“metrics” 
“business analytics” 
“Excel” 
“reporting”
Reporting
business as usual Reporting
Learning 
Reporting 
business as usual
(esp. supervised) Learning 
Reporting 
business as usual
supervised learning, e.g., 
“the funnel”
Learning 
Test 
Reporting 
(esp. supervised) 
business as usual
Learning 
(esp. supervised) 
aka “A/B testing”; Test 
RCT 
Reporting 
business as usual
Learning 
(esp. supervised) 
aka “A/B testing”; Test 
RCT 
Some of the most recognizable personalization in our service 
i...
Learning 
(esp. supervised) 
aka “A/B testing”; Test 
RCT 
Reporting 
business as usual
Learning 
Test 
Optimizing 
Reporting 
(esp. supervised) 
aka “A/B testing”; 
RCT 
business as usual
Learning 
Test 
Optimizing 
Reporting 
(esp. supervised) 
aka “A/B testing”; 
RCT 
(i.e. reinforcement 
learning) 
busines...
Explore 
Learning 
Test 
Optimizing 
Reporting 
(esp. supervised) 
aka “A/B testing”; 
RCT 
(i.e. reinforcement 
learning)...
Explore 
Learning 
Test 
Optimizing 
Reporting 
aka “segmenting” 
(esp. supervised) 
aka “A/B testing”; 
RCT 
(i.e. reinfo...
Explore 
Learning 
Test 
Optimizing 
Reporting 
aka “segmenting” 
(esp. supervised) 
aka “A/B testing”; 
RCT 
(i.e. reinfo...
aka “segmenting” Explore 
“segments”
aka “segmenting” Explore 
“soccer mom” 
“segments”
Learning 
Optimizing 
Reporting 
tech company
Reporting 
“model” company
Reporting 
fake company
Explore 
Learning 
Test 
Optimizing 
Reporting 
startups:
“a startup is a temporary organization in search of a 
repeatable and scalable business model” —Steve Blank
every publisher is now a startup
data science: 
- people, 
- process, 
- technology
your questions? 
chris.wiggins@columbia.edu 
chris.wiggins@nytimes.com 
@chrishwiggins
data science at the NYT: how a 163-yr old company became data-driven
data science at the NYT: how a 163-yr old company became data-driven
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data science at the NYT: how a 163-yr old company became data-driven

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Talk presented 2014-11-12 at Quantcast Supernova conference, WTC 4, 54th floor. ( http://www.quantcastsupernova.com/agenda/ )

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data science at the NYT: how a 163-yr old company became data-driven

  1. 1. data science @ The New York Times and how a 163-year old content company became data-driven chris.wiggins@columbia.edu chris.wiggins@nytimes.com @chrishwiggins
  2. 2. 1. the path
  3. 3. biology: 1892 vs. 1995 biology changed for good.
  4. 4. data science: web scale
  5. 5. example: 163 yr old
  6. 6. example: millions of views per hour
  7. 7. data science: the web
  8. 8. data science: the web is your “online presence”
  9. 9. data science: the web is a microscope
  10. 10. data science: the web is an experimental tool
  11. 11. data science: the web is an optimization tool
  12. 12. 1. the path
  13. 13. data science: - people, - process, - technology
  14. 14. 2. data science: process
  15. 15. “data”:
  16. 16. “data”: “metrics” “business analytics” “Excel” “reporting”
  17. 17. Reporting
  18. 18. business as usual Reporting
  19. 19. Learning Reporting business as usual
  20. 20. (esp. supervised) Learning Reporting business as usual
  21. 21. supervised learning, e.g., “the funnel”
  22. 22. Learning Test Reporting (esp. supervised) business as usual
  23. 23. Learning (esp. supervised) aka “A/B testing”; Test RCT Reporting business as usual
  24. 24. Learning (esp. supervised) aka “A/B testing”; Test RCT Some of the most recognizable personalization in our service is the collection of “genre” rows. …Members connect with these rows so well that we measure an increase in member retention by placing the most tailored rows higher on the page instead of lower. Reporting business as usual
  25. 25. Learning (esp. supervised) aka “A/B testing”; Test RCT Reporting business as usual
  26. 26. Learning Test Optimizing Reporting (esp. supervised) aka “A/B testing”; RCT business as usual
  27. 27. Learning Test Optimizing Reporting (esp. supervised) aka “A/B testing”; RCT (i.e. reinforcement learning) business as usual
  28. 28. Explore Learning Test Optimizing Reporting (esp. supervised) aka “A/B testing”; RCT (i.e. reinforcement learning) business as usual
  29. 29. Explore Learning Test Optimizing Reporting aka “segmenting” (esp. supervised) aka “A/B testing”; RCT (i.e. reinforcement learning) business as usual
  30. 30. Explore Learning Test Optimizing Reporting aka “segmenting” (esp. supervised) aka “A/B testing”; RCT (i.e. reinforcement learning) business as usual
  31. 31. aka “segmenting” Explore “segments”
  32. 32. aka “segmenting” Explore “soccer mom” “segments”
  33. 33. Learning Optimizing Reporting tech company
  34. 34. Reporting “model” company
  35. 35. Reporting fake company
  36. 36. Explore Learning Test Optimizing Reporting startups:
  37. 37. “a startup is a temporary organization in search of a repeatable and scalable business model” —Steve Blank
  38. 38. every publisher is now a startup
  39. 39. data science: - people, - process, - technology
  40. 40. your questions? chris.wiggins@columbia.edu chris.wiggins@nytimes.com @chrishwiggins

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