media control GfK International and Exasol

Data mining in real time for the entertainment industry’s trend barometer

“If you want to know who was number one in the German music charts last week or how many people watched the latest blockbuster at the German cinemas you can refer to one of the 300 charts compiled each week by media control GfK International. These charts aren’t just a reliable source of information and an orientation aid for consumers; they are also marketing tools.


Data growth stood at 100% per year and previous Oracle solution reached its limits when processing large amounts of data


Exasol’s analytics database was installed and started up within six weeks and is used in 3 different sections within the company


Individual departments can access data much more quickly through their own data marts and low level of admin has helped reduced TCO

We chose EXASolution because it reduces the administration work and remains extremely powerful even when dealing with complex requests – this makes it perfect for our requirements. The high-performance database provides us with the most optimal flexibility in the long term.

Sven Zurnieden Head of Database Services, media control GfK International
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more powerful than the system that preceded Exasol


sales reports processed every year

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levels of data growth per year




There is no other more direct and exact way to measure marketing efficiency than in the music industry and retail business. This is where marketing strategies are aligned according to the charts. Success, trends and the importance of artists and their releases can be seen immediately, providing the perfect conditions for establishing new artists.

The joint venture between media control and GfK came into being in 2003 and the company is now a leading global provider of extensive market information in the entertainment sector. The portfolio encompasses representative market research and sales charts of books, music, DVDs, films and games. As a fullservice provider, the company creates custom analyses of sales figures, distribution channels, price distribution and development, life cycles and seasonality. To do this the company works closely with the national industry associations.

Case study background details

These include the Börsenverein des deutschen Buchhandels e.V. (German Publishers and Booksellers Association) , the Bundesverband Audiovisuelle Medien e.V. (Federal Association for Audio-Visual Media) the Bundesverband Musikindustrie e.V. (Federal Association for the Music Industry) and the Verband der Filmverleiher e.V. (Association of Film Distributors).

  • Industry Market Research
  • Application BI Acceleration
  • Database Exasol, Oracle
Case study background details

The journey

You can use our analytics database with our private cloud, any public cloud, on premises – or as part of a hybrid deployment.

The challenge

More than 6,000 customers from over 30 countries regularly use products and solutions from media control GfK International so as to obtain official chart listings and extensive market research data from one source. The entire European database can be accessed worldwide, 24-hours a day via web applications. At peak times 35,000 searches are carried out daily. Before publication the data is subjected to multi-level quality assurance. The evaluations can then be downloaded in various file formats. The information gained regarding the market and product sales helps to form the basis for marketing, sales and media planning decision-making – it is possible to see at a glance whether promotional activities are being accepted by the customers. Using the evaluations, the sale of popular items can be stimulated and more turnover can be generated.

Due to the number of enquiries and data sources being used, media control GfK International was confronted with high levels of data growth, which currently stands at 100 percent per year and is continuing to grow. In the company‘s data centre in Baden-Baden, automated and encrypted data from over 50,000 dealers is consolidated on an ongoing basis. The range of items alone consists of 5,000,000 products and is constantly being updated. The B2B market-research applications are accessed around 1 million times every month. Every year, media control GfK International processes 500,000,000 sales reports and in the music sector alone more than 500 GB of raw data are processed.

At the end of 2010 the database solution from Oracle reached its limits when processing large amounts of data. Those responsible began to look for a powerful alternative with which they could secure and develop the analysis speed and flexibility of the IT landscape on which the services of media control GfK International are based.

The solution

The solution had to be highly scalable and also easy to integrate into the existing IT environment. It was initially planned to continue using the Oracle 11g solution as an enterprise data warehouse and to use the high-performance database EXASolution to transform all the data for certainectors such as video or music into individual data marts.

In mid 2011, after a multi-step evaluation process, the company decided on the high-performance database EXASolution from Nuremberg-based EXASOL AG. EXASOL was given the opportunity to prove the performance of its product with a proof of concept. The high-performance database is based on technology and makes it possible to analyze and evaluate even extremely large data volumes within a very short space of time. However the performance aspect was not the only deciding factor. EXASolution provided significant cost advantages compared to competitive products.

Rapid performance gain

nstallation and start-up of the relational, high-performance database in the media control GfK International computer centre was carried out by EXASOL AG technicians. The six-week period planned for the conversion was easily adhered to. Version 3.4 of EXASolution has been in use in the Video section since December 2011. The cluster consists of 3+1 nodes. In the Music section, EXASolution 4.0 is being used on a cluster consisting of 3+1 nodes. After this positive experience in the first two sections, the company decided to start using EXASolution 4.0 for Books and Games as well. The step-by-step transfer of data from these two sections into individual data marts has been ongoing since spring 2012.

The benefits for GfK

  • Powerful data management for complex ad hoc queries
  • 200 times more power
  • Drastically reduced response times
  • Significant cost reduction
  • EXASOL was chosen as a business intelligence platform because it guarantees fast data availability, a high level of reliability, ease of operation and reporting scalability. A further decisive advantage is that the individual specialist departments now have access to their own data marts that are independent of the other divisions. This means that they can access relevant information much more quickly.

    The database management solution from EXASOL is up to 200 times more powerful than the systems used previously. This means that complex requests can be quickly processed and the corresponding analyses can be created in less than a minute. The low level of administration required helps the IT technicians at media control GfK International to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO).

    “Thanks to the high performance and full scalability offered by EXASolution, media control GfK International can further individualize its service range while continuing to reduce the total cost of ownership and administrative expenses.” Steffen Weissbarth, CEO, EXASOL AG

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