To say that data was everywhere is almost certainly one of the biggest understatements you’ll see in a very long time. ‘Big data’, that is analysis of the digital habits, trends and behaviours of large numbers of people, is very easily available and contains more information about our online business than we probably believe. With this being the case, why do we seldom see publishers using this data effectively, and what are they missing out on by not utilising such a resource?
The publishing market is so saturated that you can’t seriously expect to compete unless you target a very specific audience and know them inside out. Without data, you are only guessing as to what sort of interests your audience have, what platforms they are most active on (as well as the times that they are on these platforms) and what designs and techniques they respond best to. Although there will almost certainly be an element of experimentation here, without data and a solid understanding of who you’re trying to target with your content, then it is a real challenge to survive.
The benefits of using data to better target your audience are so great that one wonders why not every publisher does it. It can boost your number of digital subscribers no-end, as they’ll be confident that the content they’ll be reading is relevant and designed for them. This, in turn, may interest publishers and provide you with even more money making opportunities.
Targeting your audience is good. Targeting the individual is even better. There is no more efficient way of making your readers feel valued than to personalise your content and service as much as possible, from the ads you put up to what content you recommend for them, and even any special offers that you reward them with.
The only way to do this well is with data looking at what the individual does online, both on and off your site. The advantages this can bring are massive; there are few things that make readers happier than a well personalisedexperience. In addition to receiving a higher number of clicks on the content you recommend and adverts you put up (as they’re more likely to be of interest to the reader), building a reputation as a site that really cares about its readers can really improve traffic and subscription numbers. And that is only going to have a positive impact on revenue potential.
The only truly effective form of advertising these days are those that are unobtrusive and relevant. Data can really help a publisher to see what sort of advertising their audience responds to the most, and, perhaps more importantly, to establish on an individual level what should be advertised.
Having these two things clarified by data can make a huge difference, as we are just far more likely to click and buy from an advert if we see that it’s targeted. Because of this, not only are you likely to get a share of any sale that comes from adverts on your site, but you are more likely to get interest from advertisers as they know that your site targets ads, so they are more likely to get the attention of the reader.
Reserved, targeted ads even have the potential to boost readership. We feel a lot more tolerant of advertising when we’re safe in the knowledge that our time won’t be wasted by frivolous ads of no interest to us. Targeted ads won’t be clicked on every time, and they are far from guaranteed to make a substantial amount of revenue, but they are far more likely to be successful than random ads. A publisher is missing out on a potentially significant revenue stream if they continue to ignore the data that is available.
The digital publishing world is constantly changing. It’s therefore key that publishers are always measuring their performance and always looking for what they’re doing well and what can be improved on. Data is of great benefit in this field, since the information it provides can help with pinpointing exactly what your readers are looking at, and what platforms and techniques they are responding the best too.
Data eliminates the need for guesswork in measuring performance. It enables you to see what isn’t working so your attention and focus aren’t wasted with trying to improve something that doesn’t require improving.
The viability of any publisher in the future is dependent on whether they can plan well for the future. Distribution channels, methods of payment and audience tastes are all likely to change in the non-too distant future, so being one step ahead of the competition is essential in such a fiercely competitive market.
Data makes it easier to see future trends and determine what your audience is likely to embrace in the course of time. This ability to more accurately predict what the next step is will no doubt improve your audience as they see you are delivering what they want before they realise they want it. Prospects can only go up when in such a position. Segmentation and machine learning are paving the way to automating conversions in the near future.
If you are not taking advantage of the data that’s out there, then you are missing out on more likely success in targeting your audience with the right content and ads, plus more accurate figures in evaluating performance and investigating potential future strategies.
If you’re missing out on data, you’re missing out on revenue.