Q&A With Aptara’s Pavan Arora: Predictive Semantics & Metadata Resolutions for 2014
It's fair to say that the editors here at Book Business have metadata on the brain these days -- in a good way. Our upcoming February issue will be focused on the ins-and-outs of how metadata is affecting the industry and how publishers can take advantage of this trend. The issue is a veritable chorus of voices from the industry leaders and experts helping to sort through it all.
Among those voices is Pavan Arora, chief innovation officer of Aptara. In his column, Arora will share insight on how predictive analytics is a huge opportunity for publishers. Predictive analytics is an algorithm-based science of deciphering captured data to discover probable customer actions -- and it promises a major boost to publishers' profits, says Arora.
Arora will also be leading a Book Business free webinar tomorrow (Thursday, January 9th) called Bridging the Digital Revenue Gap: Semantic Strategies for Fueling Sales and Marketing. The webinar will examine strategies and technologies for achieving the next level of discoverability and analytics that can be used to fuel ebook marketing reach and drive sales. Arora will be joined by Hitesh Chitalia, director for McGraw Hill Financial.
In the following Q&A Arora shares some need-to-know information on semantic metadata and a possible New Year's resolution publishers might want to consider for driving more digital revenue in 2014.
What is semantic metadata and how can it be useful to publishers?
Semantic tagging infuses intelligence into content. It contextualizes text by applying metatags based on taxonomies, ontologies, and controlled vocabularies. So, if a book mentions "hair of the dog", semantic tagging allows us to extrapolate that it is a reference to a hangover treatment, rather than dog hair. Once software can derive meaning from text, there are a number of cost savings and revenue opportunities for publishers. Investing in semantic tagging upfront provides a very open-ended set of possibilities down the line.
What are predictive analytics and how can publishers use it for content development and marketing?
Predictive analytics refers to applying an algorithm to predict actions based on captured data. Semantic tagging helps us apply predictive analytics, which has been so successful for other industries, to publishing. For example, combining semantic sentiment analysis with a predictive algorithm would infer that someone reading a book criticizing President Obama, may be more interested in reading a book by Rush Limbaugh rather than the President's autobiography. Moreover, a different algorithm could infer that based on browsing and buying patterns, more books about President Obama with a positive sentiment about "Obamacare" are being read, rather than books just about President Obama.
How do publishers stand to benefit in terms of revenue?
The two examples mentioned would increase publisher revenues. Accurately recommending books that match customer interest significantly increases conversion. Predictive semantics can automatically feed those recommendations based on customer data. In addition, combining buying patterns with semantics give publishers insight into specific customer demand. As such, publishers can not only source books that are in demand, but also assume what words to use for better marketability. Finally, predictive semantics also can significantly extend discoverability.
What is discoverability and why is it important to book publishers?
Discoverability is the difficult task of translating bookstore merchandising by publishers to the online world. In bookstores, 20% of purchased books originate from patron browsing. In the online world, being discovered translates to search engine optimization on retailer sites as well as mentions on blogs and social media. A publisher's discoverability strategy is a double-edged sword; an effective strategy could spur a book's success while the lack of a strategy could ensure a book gathers virtual dust on a virtual shelf. Aptara is investing significantly in developing a toolset to automate an effective strategy for publishers. Our proprietary tool, currently under development, will help significantly increase conversions by changing metatags and book descriptions in real-time to meet the keywords du jour.
What are some New Year's resolutions publishers should make to ensure they are driving more digital revenue in 2014?
Semantically tag at least 10 books this year. Yes, there is an upfront investment. However, there are a number of automated tools now available (and that I have tested at Aptara) to attain an acceptable level of accuracy. The possibilities for new revenues, cost savings, and innovation of new products once content is semantically tagged will more than bridge any revenue gap publishers have faced over the past few years. In fact, I would venture to guess that semantic tagging could lead to a suite of derivative products with higher sales than the original product. Happy New Year, and good luck in 2014.
Pavan Arora leads Aptara's product development and strategy initiatives and was previously a digital innovation consultant to McGraw-Hill, World Bank Publishing, and the Library of Congress.
Denis Wilson was previously content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzed and reported on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aimed to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.