How I Entered Digital Analytics in the Media Industry

From humanities major to Digital Analyst via a Disney Internship, this is Vivien’s transition story.

Read Time: 5 Mins


Unlike Hansel and Gretel who purposely left their trail of breadcrumbs to find their way home, we live in a digital era where cookies follow us everywhere, online and offline. With technological improvements, tracking capabilities across devices and platforms have made the scale of our digital footprints larger than ever. However, what follows after data collection is the real challenge for businesses: how to make the most use and even monetize the data at hand?


Hello, digital analytics!

With more and more companies dedicating time and resources to develop teams that work specifically with data, I was fortunate enough to jump on board the newly formed Digital Analytics and Insights Team at Discovery Inc. Our team’s primary goal is to support various internal stakeholders in the TV Everywhere (TVE) branch by unearthing insights regarding our products and user engagement, as well as providing data-driven analyses. Essentially, we take part in shaping and developing more data-informed business strategies that seek to improve our products and user experience that, consequentially, contribute to digital revenue growth.


What does an analyst of digital analytics and metrics do?

Using Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, PowerBI and Tableau dashboards, I work with data across all of our digital GO platforms in the States: websites, mobile apps and connected devices across Discovery and (recently acquired) Scripps Networks’ portfolio. The most recognized brands include the beloved Discovery, TLC, Investigation Discovery (ID), Animal Planet, HGTV and Food Network among many others. As an avid media junkie myself, what excites me the most about my role is the opportunity to work with so many different brands to evaluate their content and audiences, and collaborate with different teams—including finance, marketing, product, and programming—to test and develop better strategies and grow our TVE products. Examples may include what kind of messaging best speaks to linear TV viewers about our TVE watching experience? What is the best user interface for browsing and searching shows on our apps? Did promotion spots on a specific platform, i.e. Roku or Xbox, boost our show performance?

Aside from routine daily and weekly reports, day-to-day work rarely gets repetitive as the overall digital landscape changes quickly. More importantly, as the media industry has been seeing many disruptions in the past few years—ever since streaming services like Netflix and Internet companies like Amazon and Facebook entered the competition—the remaining companies are forced to adapt and innovate in ways that compete for consumers’ money and attention. (In addition, in the past few days, significant yet shocking game-changing decisions were made—with AT&T getting approval to merge with Time Warner, followed by Comcast bidding against Disney to acquire 21st Century Fox properties. Both of these deals are concerning for consumers, in the sense that the media industry is already dominated by conglomerates who are now only getting bigger and competition diminishing through sharks swallowing the big fish.)

Indeed, now is the time to be in the media industry—to be challenged and witness monumental changes, especially if you are passionate about media and entertainment.


Next steps?

Throughout my first year working in digital analytics, I have had the opportunities to code a little via SQL and am self-learning Python via Dataquest, an online platform that specializes in data analytics, data science and data engineering. Just like learning new languages, coding requires constant practice and strong motivation, especially when not directly learning from a classroom setting. However, it can be fun, albeit challenging, and offers the flexibility that analytics software does not necessarily have.

While my role does not require any programming skills, both SQL and Python prove invaluable in extracting, organizing and processing large datasets. Furthermore, now is the time where coding is prized as a preferred skill among job applicants since most of the companies now have data-related roles and need candidates who specialize in data.


How I came to this role?

It started with my internship with the Ad Sales Research Team at Disney-ABC Television Group. Prior to this position, I had roles in PR, editorial, and marketing but not one specifically on research/analytics. It was an interesting transition and not something I knew about while I was pursuing my undergrad major in Media, Culture and Communication.


During my internship interview, I made it important that I was able to transfer and apply other skills and experience I'd gained beforehand, such as synthesizing large amounts of information, writing and giving presentations to different audiences, etc.. Equally important was to show the hiring manager a positive attitude and interests in learning what I did not know. 

Through different projects at Disney, I was introduced various analytics software—including Nielsen Media Analytics, Rentrak comScore, Memri, and social media analytics—and became acquainted with working with different types of data, from extracting, summarizing to storytelling with data. In addition to the hard skills, I gained some knowledge and insights into the industry, business strategies and key KPIs to track in the media research field.

It was indeed through this internship that I decided to pursue a career in the research/analytics field in the media industry. It led me to where I am now at Discovery’s digital department and helped me discover my passion and post-college learning objectives. As cliché as it may sound, life sometimes does take unexpected twists and turns. If it was not through stumbling across the Disney internship, I would not have considered a research/analytics career path with my humanities major. Nonetheless, it worked out. And this is probably not the first transition story you may have heard of? If you have the passion and desire to enter the world of data, immerse yourself or take up analytics and coding courses online or via bootcamps, as they are the keys to entering that world and making you a competitive applicant.



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A recent graduate of New York University, Vivien Li is a global storyteller, curious traveler, and aspiring foodie. Growing up with a bicultural background (Taiwanese and American), she is deeply passionate in learning about cultures across the world, and spent 4 semesters studying away: from London, Washington DC to Prague. With a major in Media, Culture and Communication and interests in technology and business, Vivien enjoys listening to, sharing, and voicing ideas of her own and from different people, and hopes to bring positive impact through her work and writing—starting with SheCanCode.

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