Perseus CMO Rick Joyce on Battling the Homogenization of Books
How important is data collection and management for Perseus?
One of the ways in which you're starting to see publishers collect data is through direct sales. It's a way to learn who's buying what, build their history, ask them questions, etc. You're starting to see a fair amount of that. For example, our travel guides have a print and digital direct solution. Travel is one of those things where you can really build a profile of what people like and make specific offers to them. But not all offers are so clear. We're a broad nonfiction publisher as well, and our authors cover a range of topics. An author may write about World War I, then Vietnam, then perhaps Bill Clinton. If someone reads one of his books, it's not always clear what to recommend next. So this type of recommendation selling may be more complex for certain titles.
But there are other ways to gather useful information beyond collecting data from a direct sale. You're beginning to see a lot of publishers build direct-to-consumer platforms for communicating with consumers. Publishers are using Pinterest sites or blogging sites to focus on a narrow interest, whether its vegan food, business, or sci-fi, so that they can have things that people can follow and subscribe to. All of that creates consumer information that can be used generally or specifically to make offers to folks. We've done a fair amount of that and I think it is something that every publisher can and should do.
The third thing we do is we analyze a social conversation and track that conversation using certain tools. We use a tool called ForSight from Crimson Hexagon to analyze consumer conversations and influencers, to hone metadata, to assess the effectiveness of campaigns, etc. And that is less about having a database of your own consumers and more about being sophisticated about analyzing the whole marketplace. That is a big data play because it's helping you target new customers rather than getting current customers to buy more.