Once upon a time there were publishers that decided what their audience would consume. Then technology advanced and upended the way consumers experience and deal with information. Today’s users want useful content delivered anytime, anywhere. Content owners can no longer afford to frustrate the increasingly demanding shortest-of-attention-span consumers by the ‘spray and pray’ approach to content publishing. The value must be immediately obvious. Most users have no regret whatsoever about ditching their brand loyalty and changing their content provider to a company that gives them what they need. Consumers want meaning, knowledge, and the fastest relevant search result. Publishers, in turn, could use technology to gain maximum exposure for content by removing the guesswork and delivering appropriate context more reliably.
Challenged with keeping up with continuously evolving user technology and growing demand for insights, publishers need to extract knowledge out of the vast messy morass big data has created. Because pouring huge amounts of content onto users does not necessarily mean successfully engaging readers and efficiently monetizing content. Organizations have started leveraging on technology to break down the vast amount of big data into structured and linked data in order to draw upon the benefits of smarter data in both content creation and content delivery.
One such technology is the semantic technology. It ‘teaches’ computers how to identify subjects or people within sentences and categorizes them while creating and inferring relationships between them.
For example, as early as the FIFA World Cup 2010, the BBC used semantic technologies to link data, creating huge amounts of content with links to relevant pages. This gave readers richer, faster and more relevant user experience. How come? For instance, information on Frank Lampard led on to links with info on the English Squad, as well as the ‘group in which England play’, leading to ‘other group contenders’ and the ‘FIFA World Cup 2010’. The BBC later scaled up this approach to its 2012 Olympics website, and began using a linked data platform for its BBC News and BBC Sport content.
This type of semantic publishing approach minimizes the need for journalists doing manual metadata while maximizing the value of the internal assets. By using semantic technology in content analytics publishers can discover information faster, thus shortening the time to mine for data and documents ultimately saving costs. Publishers can also easily and cost-effectively repackage structured and linked data, reuse content across departments, or repurpose it for generating new revenue leads. At the same time, this way of delivering content may give readers what they are looking for, keeping them happy with their experience, ultimately leading to higher engagement and sales.
By using semantic technology to link otherwise seemingly chaotic data, publishers can see how their content is being structured and, more importantly interrelated. Consequently they can analyze the linked content easily and implement various business model approaches to selling, recommending, or advertising it.
When it comes to selling content, this business has never been more consumer-centric than it is today. And publishers, including news providers, face an uphill task in generating more revenues if they do not strive for delivering a consistent and personalized user experience to multiple devices. According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, a growing number of people are accessing news through a greater number of devices.
With delivery platforms evolving by the day, consumers want it all, and they want it now. This means that in order to have a competitive edge content providers now have to think of what content to deliver, when to do it and how to do it. Netflix, for example, has seen the benefit of understanding that consumers want films and shows streaming without commercials anytime, anywhere, and on almost any screen. Netflix had done their homework with user behavior analysis and outbid HBO and AMC for ‘House of Cards’. The rest, as they say, is history. And Emmys.
However, online publishers are starting to replicate what some providers have achieved with streaming TV shows. Online publishers not only need to know their consumers, they need to see how their preferences evolve so as to attract more audience. And they need to know how to interact with the digital natives and resonate with the habits of millennials. There isn’t a ‘plug and play’ approach to do that. So publishers may embark on a process of ‘trial and error’ to see what works best. For instance, the NOW.ontotext.com, free-to-use app allows publishers to test out a showcase of semantic technologies designed to improve content circulation online. The app is tailored to help news providers fully optimize the distribution and delivery of content.
The way content is delivered is of huge importance to today’s mobile user. A growing number of renowned news providers such as the BBC, the Financial Times, Guardian and The New York Times are listening to their audience and search for ways to continuously engage it, be it with content personalization, short and insightful messages, easy-to-use formats, or one-swipe search.
Andrew Phelps, who leads a newly-created team at The New York Times on messaging and push alerts, described the content delivery as it was: “We used to be standing on a hill and shouting messages at people.”
Since the world, technology and consumers have dramatically changed in recent years, shouting messages at people is no longer a means to engaging audience. Users do not need to be lost in information; rather, they need to find themselves in the one piece they really want to know. So, it’s not shouting from a hill at people anymore, hoping that someone might find some bit of news interesting; it’s listening to people’s say and making content creation and delivery responsive the ever-changing trends in behavior and device usage. Realizing that technology can help structure and link at least a portion of the data would be a step forward. With time, chances are that by using this approach publishers may navigate their way to consumers’ hearts and minds, and eventually, to their wallets.