Publishers Must Capitalize on Data-Driven Content Recommendation
Which is better at assessing your content interests: a display ad on a random website or the app you spend hours reading magazines in each month? If my recent experience is any indication, the display ad is the winner, hands down.
I recently went on audible.com to explore audiobooks and picked one I thought I might be interested in. I was curious to experience the purchase process but I stopped before clicking "buy." Later that same day three different websites featured banner ads from Audible with the cover of the book I almost purchased. The digital breadcrumbs I left behind on my audiobook experiment probably still exist somewhere deep inside my browser's cache.
Compare that to the fact that I regularly read sports magazines in my Next Issue subscription. So why doesn't the Next Issue app use that information to recommend other sports content to me, right inside the app?
The answer is pretty simple: Online advertising services leverage data but content apps don't. It's amazing that in 2015 so few publishers and content distributors are utilizing the valuable data they gather every day.
The opportunity here isn't just to get me to read more related content in the app I'm already in. Yes, that will increase engagement and serve as a win-win for publishers and readers. The real upside is around discovery and affiliate income.
Once Next Issue wakes up and starts recommending more sports content from its other magazines, they should also recommend books in the same category. I'm not keeping a close eye on the newest ebooks about baseball and hockey, but Next Issue knows I read a lot of articles about both, so why not use that information to give me a heads-up about books I'm likely to be interested in?
This would be a terrific opportunity for book publishers to create an affiliate program within the e-zine app. Book and magazine publishers aren't direct competitors, so why not work together to provide reading recommendations?
This is a two-way concept, by the way; ebook publishers should be willing to serve up recommendations to relevant magazine content as well. An affiliate cut of any new revenue generated from these recommendations would be passed along to the recommending app/publisher.
First we need the app vendors to recognize and tap into the valuable data that's right under their noses. Then we need to tear down the walls that exist between publishers so that data can be used to improve discovery and generate additional revenue streams. It will be interesting to see who figures this out and builds a truly data-driven content recommendation service.
Joe Wikert is Publishing President at Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.com). Before joining OSV Joe was Director of Strategy and Business Development at Olive Software. Prior to Olive Software he was General Manager, Publisher, & Chair of the Tools of Change (TOC) conference at O’Reilly Media, Inc., where he managed each of the editorial groups at O’Reilly as well as the Microsoft Press team and the retail sales organization. Before joining O’Reilly Joe was Vice President and Executive Publisher at John Wiley & Sons, Inc., in their P/T division.