While disruptive technologies like mobile, cloud, and big data have rocked every industry, modern digital innovations have upended no sector like it has publishing. From fears over the death of print (which still hasn’t been realized, and potentially won’t be for generations to come) to questions about how to handle issues like social media and e-publishing, publishers have emerged stronger than ever. In fact, they now have an arsenal of tools to do an even better job of everything from delivering timely news to satisfying the most remote niches of readers.
One of the tools is big data. Marketing learned quickly how this innovation could be leveraged to reach new markets, expand current markets, and discover markets that no one realized existed. What can publishers learn from marketing? It all starts with getting to know the customers and finding where those customers are lurking, just waiting for your content to arrive. Here’s how it works.
1. Supplementing Your Own Data With Third-Party Data
What content are people buzzing about? What are people saying about what’s currently popular? Facebook and Twitter firehose data is a rich resource for trends and subtrends.
Publishers are fabulous at collecting their own data, but this data is only a partial picture of what’s really going on. Supplement your own data with data you can get from third parties, such as social media outlets (think Twitter and Facebook firehose data), LexisNexis data, data from government agencies and sources, data from other publishers, etc. Big data isn’t just about having lots of data; it is about having a wide variety of different kinds of data from disparate sources. Determiningwhat content is slated to be the next hit on par with Lord of the Rings used to be a matter of gut instinct, but with big data it becomes mostly science with a touch of intuition. This makes it much less risky to roll out those questionable releases.
2. Discovering and Following Trends in Content
Once you have a rich repository of varied data sets, you can begin to run analysis to determine trends in content. What’s the point of this when everyone knows what content is popular? Because it keeps you from missing untapped niches or from falling off the cliff when a currently popular niche turns sour. For example, superheroes have ridden an incredible wave of popularity in recent years. Publishers and movie makers have flooded the market with everything from comic books to out-of-cannon books and stories. But Stephen Spielberg and other experts predict that the superhero bubble is about to burst. Big data can mean the difference between bowing out just in time or getting stuck with tons of superhero content that isn’t earning you a dime.
3. Discovering and Targeting Trends in Content Delivery
Who could have predicted that a work of fan fiction based on the Twilight series, seasoned with a side of low-level S&M, would become massively popular years after the initial Twilight fever was over and done? Well, big data has a tendency to make just exactly those types of predictions. Are you missing trends and sub-trends in the marketplace, such as S&M vampire fan fiction or medieval zombies? These little sub-trends can be worth billions in the marketplace, so gather all of the data you can and analyze it to the hilt to find those missing genres to tap for big scores.
4. Delivering Relevant Advertising
As marketing has learned, when advertising is done right, it’s seen more as a service than an intrusion. Tired of people X-ing out your ads to get to the content they really want? Then turn your ads into the content they really want! Use big data to determine the markets most likely to want to see your advertising, and to find where those markets hang out and find the books, blogs, and other content they consume. News of the latest NFL coach’s published memoirs is received like manna from heaven among the ESPN crowd, but it’ll go over like stale fruitcake with a side of salmonella among the Syfy Channel folks.